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Chapter I

THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918


AND THE ORGANIZATION
OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
THE WAR BEFORE THE ENTRY OF THE UNITED STATES

F OR some years prior to 1914 the w h i c h c o m p r i s e d G e r m a n y, A u s t r i a -


great countries of Europe had been H u n g a r y a n d I t a l y. T h e o t h e r w a s
d iv i d e d i n t o t w o r i va l g r o u p s . t h e Tr i p l e E n t e n t e , w h i c h c o n s i s t e d
One of these was the Triple Alliance, of France, Great Britain and Russia.

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2 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

T h e Tr i p l e A l l i a n c e , d o m i n a t e d by crime and adopted an aggressive attitude


Germany, was the f irst to be formed and in the diplomatic negotiations which
was initiated by Ger many as a par t of ensued. Serbia went to g reat lengths to
an ambitious plan to create a great world prevent war with her powerful neighbor,
empire with herself at its head. In and after submitting to practically all
furtherance of this plan Ger many had the demands made upon her, ag reed to
e s t a bl i s h e d c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h arbitrate the others. Austria, however,
Turkey and some of the Balkan states, conf ident of the suppor t of Ger many in
had extended her colonies by peaceful a war of aggression, refused to accept the
means and seizure, and had launched S e r b i a n p r o p o s a l s a n d d e c l a r e d wa r
upon a program of military and naval against her on July 28, 1914.
Expansion with the idea of becoming Austria started mobilizing her ar my
supreme on land and sea. and Russia soon thereafter did likewise.
Great Britain, France and Russia, G e r m a ny d e m a n d e d t h a t t h e R u s s i a n
realizing their individual danger if called mobilization cease at once, and at the
upon to act alone against a combination same time sent an ultimatum to France
of powers such as the Triple Alliance, requiring that nation to state immediately
had formed the Triple Entente. her intentions in case of a Russo-German
Belgium was not identif ied with either war. Receiving no reply from Russia,
the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente, and a statement from France that she
as her neutrality had been guaranteed by would do what her own interests dictated,
all members of both groups except Italy. Germany declared war against Russia on
Various incidents which occur red before August 1 and against France on August 3.
1914 had almost caused war between the Italy asserted that her agreements as a
two g roups and each incident had in- member of the Triple Alliance did not
creased to some extent the strain which compel her to take part in a war of ag-
existed between them. gression and announced her neutrality.
Great Britain did not enter the war until
EVENTS OF 1914
August 4, when it became certain that
T h e b r e a k i n g p o i n t c a m e wh e n t h e Germany had violated Belgian neutrality
Crown Prince of Austria was assassinated on by invading that country regardless of her
June 28, 1914, while inspecting troops in solemn agreement not to do so.
t h e A u s t r i a n c i t y o f S e r a j ev o , n e a r By that date, therefore, Germany and
t h e S e r b i a n b o r d e r. A u s t r i a a t o n c e Austria-H ungar y, commonly known as
accused Serbia of having instigated the the Central Powers, were at war against

German Cavalry Leaving Berlin, August 1914


THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 3

the Allies, consisting of France, Russia, mainly centered in her navy which at
Great Britain, Serbia and Belgium, which that time was the strongest in the world.
were joined by Montenegro a few days B e l i e v i n g t h a t i n t h e ev e n t o f wa r
later. Four of these nations, France and Russia would mobilize her forces much
Russia of the Allies, and Germany and more slowly than France, Germany, prior
Austria of the Central Powers, were able to the opening of hostilities, had made
to place large, well trained armies in the plans to crush the latter by a sudden and
f ield at once. Serbia, Belgium and powerful offensive. According to these
Montenegro had relatively small armies plans Austria and comparatively small
and Great Britain’s organized power was German forces were to engage Russia on
4 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

the east until France could be defeated, to future military operations of the ports
after which the combined strength of the of northwestern France, ordered certain
Central Powers was to be sent against of their units to secure possession of these
Russia to impose the same fate on her. ports with all haste. If they had fallen
Immediately after the declaration of to the Germans, not only would British
war the German Army began the invasion m i l i t a r y o p e r a t i o n s h ave b e e n b a d ly
of France, using all natural avenues of h a m p e r e d, b u t G e r m a ny wo u l d h av e
approach, including that through neutral secured excellent bases for naval activi-
Belgium. In spite of heroic resistance ties. In this famous “race to the sea”
by the Belgians, and the vital aid rendered the Allies succeeded in retaining all
the French by Great Britain’s compara- ports southwest of Ostend.
tively small expeditionary force, the Allies At the end of these operations neither of
were forced back rapidly to the general the contending forces on the Wester n
l i n e o f t h e M a r n e R iv e r. M a k i n g a Front had suff icient superiority to under-
d e t e r mined stand in early September, take a major offensive, and each began
they withstood fur ther attacks and so to stabilize its position by the use of
threatened the enemy’s right that his every artif icial means available. Elabo-
armies were compelled to retire to a posi- rate trench systems, defended by unprec-
tion behind the Aisne River. edented numbers of machine guns and
Following this battle both sides realized other quick-f iring weapons, were built
that the war would not end quickly and along the front and broad belts of barbed
each, knowing the supreme impor tance wire were constructed. These continuous
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 5

A Gas Attack on the Western Front

defenses, with the hostile lines separated however, the Russians succeeded in driving
in many places by only a nar row strip of the Austrian troops west of the passes
ground, resulted in the type of f ighting through the Carpathian Mountains.
known as “trench warfare”.
During the advance of her armies to-
wa r d Pa r i s , G e r m a ny b e c a m e g r e a t ly
alarmed at the speed of the Russian mo-
bilization and the progress of that coun-
t r y ’s o ff e n s ive a g a i n s t E a s t P r u s s i a .
This situation caused the German High
Command, even before the Battle of the
M a r n e , t o we a ke n t h e f o r c e i nva d i n g
France by withdrawing approximately
90,000 men from its right wing—where
they were so badly needed later—and
starting them eastward to meet the Rus-
s i a n t h r e a t . T h e wa s w i t h d r aw n a l -
most equaled in numbers the strength of
the British Army in France at that time.
G e n e r a l s vo n H i n d e n b u rg a n d v o n
L u d e n d o r ff c a m e i n t o p r o m i n e n c e i n
August when they were ordered to the
Ger man Eastern Ar my as Commander
and Chief of Staff, respectively. The suc-
ceeding operations under their direction
were characterized by rapid movements
and crushing attacks, in which the losses
inflicted on Russia were stupendous. The
Russian Armies were hurled out of East
Prussia by the decisive German victories at
Tannenberg and the Mazurian Lakes, and
farther south were soon, thereafter pushed
back toward Warsaw. Still farther south,

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6 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

Turkey entered the war on the side of During the year the French and British
the Central Powers in November 1914, launched several offensives against the
thus threatening Great Britain’s commu- Germans, the most important being the
nications with the East by way of the attacks begun in September by the French
Suez Canal. As a result, many thousands and British Armies north of Arms and by
of Allied soldiers, always badly needed on t h e Fr e n c h A r my i n t h e C h a m p a g n e .
the French front, were employed through- These operations however did not produce
out the war in operations near the eastern any material change in the military situ-
end of the Mediterranean Sea. ation on the Western Front.
Germany was in a very strong position On April 22, 1915, poison gas was used
at the close of the year. She had inflicted for the f irst time during the war when
staggering losses on the Russians; was in the Germans employed it against French
possession of practically all of Belgium troops serving in the line near Ypres.
and of industrial areas in France which Germany was again victorious against
contained about three fourths of the Russia in a series of desperate battles.
French coal and iron deposits; and al- Bulgaria, which entered the war on the
though the German colonies were virtual- side of the Central Powers in October,
ly lost, her home resources had not been joined in the offensive that overran Serbia
damaged by invasion and were still intact. and Montenegro, while the Allied expedi-
tion to the Dardanelles was shattered and
EVENTS OF 1915
withdrawn immediately after the close of
Italy entered the war in May 1915 on the year. The British Fleet held the mas-
the side of the Allies. This caused a large tery of the seas, but the submarine block-
propor tion of Austria’s strength to be ade which Germany had established in
withdrawn from the eastern and south- February was becoming a serious menace
eastern theaters of operations and be sent to Allied supply, both civil and military.
from there for service on the Italian front.
EVENTS OF 1916
T h e C e n t r a l Powe r s , b e l i ev i n g t h ey
had nothing to fear from Russia, planned
a v i g o r o u s c a m p a i g n i n t h e we s t f o r
1 9 1 6 . I n Fe b r u a r y t h e y b e g a n i n t e n -
s ive assaults against Verdun, which con-
tinued for mouths, only to dash them-
selves to pieces against French heroism.
The German pressure at Verdun was re-
lieved as a result of the British and French
offensive on the Somme which began on
July 1 and resulted in enor mous losses
to all armies engaged. It was during this
battle that tanks were used for the f irst
time, being employed by the British in
an attack on September 15.
The German Fleet made a sortie in May and
met the British on the North Sea in the Battle
of Jutland, the principal na- val engagement
of the war. This battle resulted in the loss of
several vessels on each side, but was not de-
cisive. It ter- minated when the German Fleet
withdrew to its fortif ied harbors, which it did
not leave again in force during the war.

Large German Gun in Action on the


Western Front. © G
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 7

British Tank Set on Fire by German Flame Thrower


Note German trench and soldier in foreground. © G

Russia astonished the world by her g reatly disr upted the Allied plans by
p owe r s o f r e c u p e r a t i o n , a n d i n J u n e devastating a large area in the vicinity of
practically destroyed the Austrian Army Péronne and by withdrawing from that
of Galicia. When the Austrian Army in area to a previously-prepared defensive
Italy was defeated in August, and Ru- position of great strength.
mania entered the war against the Central G e r m a ny r e n ewe d u n r e s t r i c t e d s u b -
Powers in the same month, it became m a r i n e wa r f a r e i n Fe b r u a r y a n d h e r
necessary that Austria be rescued without U-boats were making alarming inroads
delay. Germany, quickly passing to the o n A l l i e d s h i p p i n g wh e n t h e U n i t e d
defensive in the west, started the eastern States entered the war.
offensives which not only marked the Meanwhile the Allies had decided to
beginning of the end for Russia but re- undertake offensives on a large scale. In
sulted in the elimination of Rumania April, a few days after the United States
before the close of the year. declared war, the British began the Battle
I n A u g u s t G e n e r a l von H i n d e n b u rg of Arras, and the French the Second Battle
was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Aisne. These attacks gained some
of the Ger man Field Ar my. Offers of g round but the losses suffered by the
peace made by the Central Powers in attacking troops were very great, espe-
the month of December were spur ned by cially in the battle on the Aisne. The
the Allied Governments as insincere. results created a serious situation in the
Fr e n c h A r my a n d b r o u g h t g r ave d i s -
EVENTS OF 1917 TO APRIL 6
couragement to the Allies. With Russia’s
The German High Command decided strength waning fast, this was almost f i-
to remain on the defensive in the west nal proof that without additional help the
during 1917. To fur ther this pur pose, it Allies would be unable to defeat Germany.
Sinking by the Germans of the American Bark Kirby

Sinking of the British Ship Messanabie—Torpedoed Twice by a Germcan Submarine

British Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle—Torpedoed in the Mediterranean, April 15, 1917
REASONS FOR THE ENTRY OF THE UNITED STATES
INTO THE WORLD WAR

T HE United States was in every respect


a neutral nation at the beginning of
the World War. The sympathies of the
closed. The sinking of unarmed vessels
soon occur red without any attempt being
made to save those on board. This
American citizens were naturally divided, destr uction of people innocent .of any
but as the causes which brought on the c o n n e c t i o n w i t h t h e wa r r e a c h e d i t s
conflict were considered by the mass of climax on the afternoon of May 7, 1915,
the people to be of no direct concern to when the British liner Lusitania was
the United States, the attitude of the sunk, without war ning, by a Ger man
country as a whole was one of neutrality. submarine off the coast of Ireland.
Early in the war, however, the activi- 1 , 1 9 5 l ive s we r e l o s t , i n c l u d i n g 1 2 4
ties of the war ring nations on the high Americans and 94 children, of which
seas began to interfere with American number 35 were infants.
maritime trade. Allied interference with The United States protested on May
American commerce caused an exchange 13 and, in answer to the German Govern-
of vigorous diplomatic notes with Great ment’s reply, reiterated its position on
Britain while differences with Germany June 9, 1915, stating that the United
over the use of the submarine became States was contending for something
particularly irritating. It soon developed much greater than mere rights of property
that Ger many intended to disregard a or privileges of commerce—that it was
fundamental principle of inter national contending for the rights of humanity.
law which up to that time in history had On July 8, 1915, Germany assured the
remained unquestioned. This was that United States that American ships would
neither merchant vessels of the enemy not be hindered in the prosecution of
nor those of neutrals could be lawfully legitimate shipping and that the lives of
sunk without f irst taking steps to remove American citizens on neutral vessels
the passengers and crew. would not be placed in jeopardy provided
The f irst serious diff iculty with Ger- there was no contraband on board. This
many arose when on February 4, 1915, reply failed to meet the real issue and
she proclaimed that the waters surround- Germany was informed that a repetition
ing Great Britain and Ireland would be by commanders of German naval vessels
regarded as part of the war zone in which of acts in contravention to the rights of
enemy merchant vessels would be de- the American Government, where they
stroyed and in which even neutral vessels affected the lives of American citizens,
were in danger of destr uction without wo u l d b e c o n s i d e r e d a s d e l i b e r a t e ly
assurance that the passengers and crew unfriendly to the United States.
c o u l d b e s av e d . T h e U n i t e d S t a t e s On August 19, 1915, the British steamer
strongly protested this action which would Arabic was sunk without warning and two
endanger American lives and proper ty, American lives were lost. Germany dis-
reminding Germany that under the condi- avowed this act but offered an indemnity.
tions which existed her sole right under The events up to this time had brought
international law in dealing with neutral a gradual change in the attitude of the
vessels on the high seas was limited to people of the United States toward the
that of visit and search. war. The violation of Belgian neutrality
The German reply was unsatisfactory, by G e r m a ny, i n s p i t e o f h e r d e f i n i t e
stating in effect that the German Govern- written pledges to respect it, naturally
ment would not be responsible for the had an unfavorable reaction on the major-
consequences to neutral ships if they ity of the people in America and left them
entered the waters announced by it as with the impression that the Ger man

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10 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

The Leviathan, Formerly the German Liner Vaterland,


Being Used as an American Transport

Gover nment would stop at nothing to commercial vessels, diplomatic relations


gain its ends This idea was strength- would be severed. Germany then prom-
ened by Ger many’s submarine policy ised that passenger ships would not be
pursued in utter disregard of the prop- sunk, that due warning would be given to
er ty and lives of neutrals engaged in all other vessels which her submarines
peaceful pursuits. Other contributing might seek to destroy, when no resistance
factors were the persistent repor ts of was offered or escape attempted, and that
alleged German atrocities, acts of German care would be taken that the crews were
sabotage in the United States, the f irst given a reasonable chance to save them-
use of poison gas in warfare, considered at selves in their life boats.
that time as an inhuman weapon, by the This promise relieved the tension and
Ger man Ar my on April 22, 1915, and relations between the two countries be-
p a t e n t ly f a l s e p r o p a g a n d a e m a n a t i n g came more nearly normal during the next
from the German Embassy at Washing- nine months. The situation, however,
ton. This propaganda became so ob- again grew critical when on January 31,
noxious to the press of America that they 1917, Germany revoked her pledges to
complained to the President with the the United States and announced that it
result that the member of the German was her pur pose to use submarines to
Embassy staff responsible for it was forced sink ever y vessel which sought to ap-
to return to Germany. proach either the ports of Great Britain
During the early part of 1916 the de- a n d I r e l a n d o r t h e we s t e r n c o a s t s o f
struction of unarmed ships continued and Europe or any of the ports controlled by
on April 18 the President notif ied Ger- the enemies of Germany within the Medi-
many that unless she at once abandoned t e r r a n e a n . P r e s i d e n t Wi l s o n a t o n c e
her methods of submarine warfare against broke off diplomatic relations. He did
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 11

not, however, then recommend a declara- and that Mexico endeavor to persuade
tion of war, stating to Congress that he Japan to desert the Allies and align her-
c o u l d n o t t a ke s u c h a n ex t r e m e s t e p self with the Central Powers. Mexico was
unless the German Government should t o b e a l l owe d “ t o r e c o n q u e r h e r l o s t
actually car ry out its threat of sinking t e r r i t o r y i n Tex a s , N ew M e x i c o a n d
ships under the conditions to which the Arizona”. The effect of the publication
United States expressly objected. of this telegram upon the American people
Events which drove the United States was instantaneous and widespread. It
i n t o wa r n ow d eve l o p e d r a p i d ly. O n seemed to crystallize public opinion into
Fe b r u a r y 2 6 , 1 9 1 7 , t h e P r e s i d e n t r e - a s t r o n g f u r l i n g o f h o s t i l i t y t owa r d
quested Congress to give him authority Germany. The House of Representatives
to equip American merchant ships with promptly passed the bill to authorize the
defensive arms should that become neces- arming of merchant ships and, although
sary. Two days later the President gave due to a f ilibuster the measure failed to
to the press the contents of a telegram pass the Senate before its adjournment on
which had been intercepted by the British March 4, it was clear that the overwhelm-
Government late in January. This tele- ing sentiment of Congress was in favor
g r a m h a d b e e n s e n t by t h e G e r m a n of the passage of the bill.
S e c r e t a r y o f Fo r e i g n A ff a i r s , A r t h u r After the sinking of American ships by
Zimmermann, through the German Em- G e r m a n s u b m a r i n e s h a d a c t u a l ly o c -
b a s s y i n Wa s h i n g t o n t o t h e G e r m a n curred, the President addressed a special
Minister in Mexico City. It proposed session of Congress on April 2, 1917,
that, in the event of war between the saying that under Germany’s new policy
United States and Germany, an alliance “Vessels of every kind, whatever their
be formed between Mexico and Germany flag, their character, their cargo, their

General Pershing Landing at Boulogne, June 13, 1917. © B


12
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

The First American Troops Arriving at St. Nazaire, June 26, 1917
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 13

German Zeppelin forced Down at Bourbonne-les-Bains, October 1917

d e s t i n a t i o n , t h e i r e r r a n d, h av e b e e n war only where we are clearly forced


r u t h lessly sent to the bottom without into it, because there are no other means
war ning and without thought of help of defending our rights.”
or mercy for those on board, the ves- Both the sincerity of his statement
s e l s o f f r i e n d ly n e u t r a l s a l o n g w i t h and the correctness of his interpretation
t h o s e o f b e l l i g e r e n t s . E ve n h o s p i t a l of the national aims and ideals of the
s h i p s and ships car rying relief to the United States were forcibly proved to
s o r e ly b e r e ave d a n d s t r i c ke n p e o p l e the world, when, at the peace table in
o f B e l g i u m . . . h ave b e e n s u n k w i t h Versailles many months later, the Ameri-
the same reckless lack of compassion can Government demanded neither one
a n d o f p r i n c i p l e .” H e f u r t h e r s t a t e d dollar of indemnity nor one square mile
that he was not “thinking of the loss o f of ter ritory from the defeated nations.
property, immense and serious as that is,
b u t o n ly o f t h e wa n t o n a n d wh o l e s a l e American Troops Parading in London,
destruction of the lives of non-combat- August 15, 1917,
ants, men, women, and children, engaged
i n p u r s u i t s wh i c h h ave a lway s , eve n i n
t h e d a r ke s t p e r i o d s o f m o d e r n h i s t o r y,
been deemed innocent and legiti-
m a t e. . . ” H e t h e n a d v i s e d t h a t wa r
be declared against the Imperial German
G ove r n m e n t . C o n g r e s s , w i t h b u t f ew
dissenting votes, approved this recom-
mendation and war was declared against
Germany on April 6, 1917.
Diplomatic relations were severed with
A u s t r i a - H u n g a r y t wo d ay s l a t e r. b u t
war was not actually declared against her
until December 7, 1917.
The President took g reat care in his
speech to Congress on April 2, 1917, to
announce the aims and attitude of
America. He said: “We have no self ish
ends to ser ve. We desire no conquest,
no dominion. WC seek no indemnities
for ourselves, no material compensation
for the sacrif ice we shall freely make.
We are but one of the champions of the
r i g h t s o f m a n k i n d We e n t e r t h i s

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14 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

American Aviation Field at Issoudun

Storage Dam at Savenay Being Constructed by American Engineers

American Plant and Storage Yard at La Rochelle, Illuminated for Night Work
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 15
ORGANIZATION
OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES AND FORMATION OF ITS
COMBAT ARMY

T H E g r e a t t a s k f a c i n g t h e U n i t e d Navy and by building commercial ships to


States when she entered the war was replace losses. The Allies also urged that
to place on the front as quickly as possible an American unit be sent over at once for
an American army the effect on the
suff iciently strong morale of their
t o g iv e t h e c o m - armies and people.
bined Allied and A c c o r d i n g ly, t h e
American forces a 1st Division was
decisive superiority formed from exist-
ov e r t h e C e n t r a l ing organizations
Powe r s . I t wa s and sent to France
ev i d e n t t h a t c o n - where most of its
s i d e r a bl e time elements landed
wo u l d e l a p s e b e - on June 26, 1917.
fore America could Major General
actually have more John J. Pershing 1
than a nominal was designated
force in the battle Commander-in-
lines, as her ver y Chief of the Ameri-
small Regular can Expeditionary
A r my, n u m b e r i n g Fo r c e s e ff e c t iv e
less than 135,000 on May 26, 1917,
men, was scattered and ser ved con-
i n we a k d e t a c h - t i n u o u s ly i n t h a t
ments throughout capacity until the
her home territory Armistice wa s
and outlying pos- signed and the
sessions. There Ar my was demo-
were no complete bilized. He landed
and permanent in France on June
units larger than 13, 1917, accom-
regiments, and panied by a small
[ eve n t h e s e u n i t s staff, and immedi-
we r e n o t s u i t a bly ately plunged into
e q u i p p e d a n d o r- the preliminary
ganized for major work of organizing
operations. the A. E. F.
The Allies asked, After a thorough
h ow ev e r, that study of the situa-
immediate help be tion, General
rendered by other Pe r s h i n g c a bl e d
means, and upon t h e Wa r D e p a r t -
their request the m e n t e a r ly i n
General John J. Pershing
United States J u l y t h a t ev e r y
American Commander-in-Chief
loaned them huge e ff o r t s h o u l d b e
sums of money, sent them great quantities m a d e t o h av e a n A m e r i c a n a r my i n
of food, and assisted against the sub- France of at least 1,000,000 men by the
marine menace both by the use of her 1
Appointed to the rank of &General, October 8, 1917.

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16 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

following May. He pointed out that this va r i o u s c l a s s e s s h o u l d b e s e n t ; a n d t h e


f igure did not represent the total number requirements of the ar my in special
required, and recommended that plans for equipment and personnel were cabled to
the fur ther development of the militar y Wa s h i n g t o n . T h e s e c a b l e s f o r m e d t h e
forces of the United States should con- basis of the War Depar tment’s policies in
template placing 3,000,000 American m o b i l i z i n g t h e g r e a t N a t i o n a l A r my i n
soldiers in the f ield in Europe. 1917 and 1913, and enabled the authori-
D e c i s i o n s a ff e c t i n g t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n , ties in the United States to proceed with
size and equipment of various units: their tasks in such a way as best to meet
methods of training to be followed; the the needs of the f ighting forces in France.
priority in which troops and supplies of O n e d e c i s i o n wh i c h h a d a m a r k e d
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 17

influence on the later operations of the be preserved”. These instructions were


American Ar my was that all training faithfully carried out by General Pershing
should be conducted in preparation for w h o i n s i s t e d t h r o u g h o u t t h e wa r, i n
offensive warfare in the open. “Trench spite of the greatest pressure from the
warfare”, although practically the only Allies, each of whom was influenced to
method of combat being taught in the some extent by its own special interests,
Allied Ar mies at that time, was con- that the forces under his command should
sidered by the American Commander-in- constitute an American ar my under its
Chief only as a special phase of military own flag and its own commander. This
operations which, if allowed to assume basic idea was kept constantly in mind
too great importance in training, could in organizing the American Expedi-
not fail to inculcate a defensive rather tionary Forces and proved to be a decisive
than an aggressive spirit in the army. factor in the defeat of Germany.
Another impor tant decision was that Ag reements had to be reached ver y
affecting the size of the American combat quickly with the Allies as to where the
division, which as organized for service in American Ar my should be located, in
France vas about twice the strength of order that the necessary preparations for
any European division. Under the con- its development and use could be ini-
d i t i o n s t h e n ex i s t i n g t h i s r e s u l t e d i n tiated. With the British forces placed
giving to the American division much to cover the channel ports and the French
greater driving power in the offensive Armies committed to the protection of
than that possessed by any other. Paris, the transportation systems in these
General Pershing’s instructions from the r e g i o n s we r e h e av i ly b u r d e n e d . T h e
Secretary of War upon sailing for Europe necessity for the supply and movement
had stated that he must cooperate with the of additional forces made it essential for
Allies “but in so doing the underlying idea t h e A m e r i c a n A r my t o c h o o s e a l e s s
must be kept in view that the forces of crowded area where roads and railways
the United States are a separate and dis- were relatively free. The fact that there
tinct component of the com- were few troops in Lorraine and that rail
bined forces, the identity of which must facilities, although extending across the

First American Troops to Land in France Parading in Paris, July 4, 1917


18 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

entire width of France, were available remarkable increase of American arrivals


for transpor ting men and supplies from t o a m a x i m u m i n o n e m o n t h o f ove r
the French por ts south of Le Havre to 300,000 off icers and men.
the Lorraine sector, were important con- This crisis inter rupted the formation
siderations which finally decided its choice of an American army as the succession of
as the American front. German drives in the spring of 1918 re-
Another factor in the selection was the quired the use of every available Ameri-
d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f t h e C o m m a n d e r- i n - can and Allied division if defeat was to
Chief to place his forces where their be avoided. It was at this time that Gen-
employment would decisively affect the e r a l Pe r s h i n g we n t t o G e n e r a l Fo c h
outcome of the war. The coal and iron and freely offered him the use of every
mines near Metz, the fortress itself and the American man and gun in France.
essential railway systems at Sedan and When the American divisions had com-
to the southeast, all made the area pro- pleted their part in the emergency and
t e c t e d by t h e L o r r a i n e f r o n t o f v i t a l had assisted in the subsequent counter-
impor tance to Ger many. Of the ter ri- offensive which turned the tide in favor
tory within striking distance of the West- of the Allies, the American Commander-
ern Front, this was the area which she in-Chief, despite renewed opposition on
could least afford to lose, because on its the part of the Allies, again insisted upon
retention depended her ability to main- their assembly into one force, and soon
tain the German Armies west of the Rhine. thereafter this was resumed.
The American Army in Lorraine would, The American First Army was organ-
therefore, be admirably located to strike ized on August 10, 1918, and immediately
at the most important German strategi- started preparations for the reduction of
cal area near the battle front. the St. Mihiel salient, which was to be its
The lack of vessels seriously retarded f irst large offensive operation.
the transfer of troops to France, and the Meanwhile, in spite of the handicaps
question was one of grave concern to the of a foreign country and language and the
American Commander-in-Chief. At the long line of communications to the
beginning of 1918 agreements were made United States, a multitude of tasks had
by him with the British for the use of a been accomplished in order that the
por tion of their tonnage as they con- American forces could begin operations
trolled most of the world’s shipping at when the divisions became available.
that time. It, however, took the crisis Staffs had been organized and trained;
caused by the German offensive in March docks, railways, roads, depots, hospitals,
of that year to bring out the amount of bridges, and telegraph and telephone lines
Allied shipping that made possible the had been built; ammunition and supplies
German Infantry Advancing Through Hermies
After Its Capture in March 1918. © G
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 19

had been collected; intensive training sidered that, except for four 14-inch naval
schemes had been put into effect; and guns on railway mounts, the American
plans for the future military operations First Army throughout its entire service
of the American Army on the Western on the front did not f ire an American-
Front had been studied and perfected. made cannon or shell, and that no Amer-
The Commander-in-Chief, having fore- ican-made tank was ever available in
seen that a considerable part of the artil- Europe for use in battle.
lery, air planes and tanks necessary for a Finally, after months of patient and un-
large force could not be obtained from remitting labor, during which obstacles of
American sources for some time to come, every nature had been met and overcome,
had made arrangements to purchase large the American Ar my was ready on the
quantities of them from the Allies. The morning of September 12, 1918, for its
wisdom of this is evident when it is con- f irst great attack as an independent army.
20 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

Germans Defending Against a British Tank Attack


The tanks are under fire from field and anti-aircraft artillery and trench mortars
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 21
MILITARY SITUATION IN JUNE 1917
AND SUMMARY OF EVENTS TO MAY 28, 1918

T HE military situation in June 1917


was very favorable to Germany and
her morale was high. Practically all her
The sacrif ice by France of a large pro-
portion of her man power, and the pres-
ence of hostile armies on her soil for three
offensives, with the exceptions of the Bat- years, had caused deep discouragement
tle of the Marne in 1914 and the Verdun among her civil population. This was
operations in 1916, had been crowned with aggravated by the severe reverse which her

great success. Her battle lines, save for a armies had suffered in April on the Aisne,
small section in Alsace, were on foreign which had resulted in a veritable wave of
ter ritor y, her own resources were un- defeatism sweeping over the country and
touched by hostile occupation and wher- over the French military forces.
ever attacked by the Allies her armies Great Britain, except for morale, was
had inflicted tremendous losses upon them. scarcely better off than France. Much of

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22 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

American Troops Marching Through Neufchâteau on Their Way to the Battle Line

her best blood had been poured out on the Armies, and the Chiefs of Staff of the
battlef ields; and like her allies, she had French and British Armies at a conference
expended vast sums in the conflict. She held in Paris during the latter par t of
retained command of the sea, but the J u ly. A n e x t r a c t f r o m t h e i r r e p o r t
German submarine campaign was reduc- is given in the following paragraph:
ing food and other supplies to the point “General conclusions reached were:
where her very existence was threatened. Necessity for adoption of purely defensive
Italy was having g reat diff iculty in attitude on all secondary fronts and with-
f inancing the war, and grave def iciencies drawing surplus troops for duty on West-
existed in her armies, as the events of the ern Front. By thus strengthening West-
autumn of 1917 were to show. ern Front believed Allies could hold until
The revolution in Russia, which had American forces arrive in numbers suff i-
occur red in March, made it practically cient to gain ascendency.”
certain that the Allies could not count on As far as their strength would permit
effective help from that country. the Allies sought, however, to maintain
The Germans were frankly scornful of the offensive on the Western Front during
America’s ability to exercise any real the latter part of 1917 in order to hinder
military influence in the war and evi- the conquest of Russia by Germany and,
dently believed it impossible for any con- if possible, to prevent an attack on the
siderable American force to be organized Italian front with German troops.
and transpor ted to France before the Accordingly, the British attacked in
defeat of the Allies could be accomplished. June capturing Messines Ridge, and near
Germany, therefore, looked forward with Ypres undertook a series of operations,
great conf idence to her armies gaining which began an July 31 and lasted until
a decisive victory in 1918. November 10. Later in November they
General Pershing’s ar rival in France, launched an offensive near Cambrai, in
followed in two weeks by the landing of which many tanks were used, and made
the American 1st Division, greatly im- important initial gains which were largely
proved the French morale. lost in a German counteroffensive ten
The Allied conception of the critical days later. These British attacks though
nature of the military situation in the very costly in men and matériel had no
summer of 1917, and of the actions to be decisive effect on the military situation.
taken to meet it, are indicated in the con- The Cambrai operation was the f irst
clusions reached by the Commanders-in- major offensive in which American troops
Chief of the American, French and Italian participated. Three American engineer

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THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 23

regiments were serving with the British which the 1st Division alone had served
at the time and one of these was actually a t t h e f r o n t . T h e B r i t i s h a n d Fr e n c h
engaged in the front-line f ighting. desired to hasten the appearance of
The French conducted carefully-pre- American troops in the line if only for the
pared limited attacks near Verdun in Au- effect on the morale of their troops, and
gust and near the Chemin des Dames in u rg e d t h a t t h e A m e r i c a n t r a i n i n g b e
October, both of which though compara- limited to the minimum necessar y for
tively small were successful. t r e n c h f i g h t i n g . T h ey a l s o r e q u e s t e d
Russia f inally collapsed in early Sep- that American troops, in company and
tember, and the Italians suffered a dis- battalion units, be assigned to their or-
astrous defeat near Caporetto in October, ganizations, pointing out the shortage of
making it necessary to send French and man power in their armies as suff icient
British divisions to their assistance. reason for this request. They contended
A n a n a ly s i s o f t h e s e eve n t s l e f t n o that the elimination of Russia as a factor
doubt in the minds of Allied commanders in the war, together with the Italian de-
that Germany would soon resume the of- feat, had so altered conditions fur the
fensive an the Western Front, with her worse that to withstand the expected
armies there augmented by large num- German attacks every American soldier
bers of divisions drawn from the Russian in France should at once be made avail-
theater of operations. This transfer of able for service at the front.
troops from Russia actually started in T h e A m e r i c a n C o m m a n d e r- i n - C h i e f
the month of November 1917. agreed that every combat unit in France
Notwithstanding Germany’s favorable should be made available for front-line
military position at the close of 1917, service, but remained f ixed in his deter-
conditions within the Fatherland and the mination to assemble all Americans into
rapidly growing American Expeditionary a n i n d e p e n d e n t a r my. A n y s o r t o f
Forces made it imperative for her to try prolonged amalgamation with the Allied
to bring the war to a prompt conclusion. Armies would have committed the for-
We know now that to accomplish this her tunes of the American forces to alien
plans contemplated the destruction of the hands, with no responsibility to the
British Army in the early spring of 1918, American Government for their proper
after which a crushing blow was to be care, training and employment. Such a
directed against the French Army. step would have met with the decided
O n D e c e m b e r 3 1 , 1 9 1 7 , t h e r e we r e opposition of the American off icers and
174,884 American soldiers in Europe, of soldiers and would have been destructive

American Soldiers En Route to the Front


24 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

German Infantry Attacking Over a Mine-Crater Area at Ripont in March 1917. © G

German Cavalry Ready for a Break-Through in March 1918 © G

German Engineers Advancing Through Captured British Position, March 1918 © G


THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 25

t o t h e i r m o r a l e . I t w o u l d h a v e b e e n e a s t o f S o i s s o n s i n Fe b r u a r y ; t h e
s t r o n g ly d i s a p p r ov e d by t h e A m e r i c a n 42d went in east of Lunéville during the
p e o p l e . T h e r e wa s , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d, same month; and about the middle of
n o d o u b t t h a t t h e e ff e c t o f a g g r e s s iv e March, the 2d entered the line with the
A m e r i c a n u n i t s i n t h e b a t t l e li n e u n d e r French southeast of Verdun.
t h e i r ow n c o m m a n d e r s wo u l d p r o d u c e O n M a r c h 2 1 , wh e n t h e f i r s t g r e a t
far greater military results and be far German offensive of 1918 started, there
m o r e d e p r e s s i n g t o t h e m o r a l e o f t h e were approximately 300,000 American
Ger man Ar mies and civil population than troops in France. Of these the 1st, 2d
t h e p r e s e n c e o f s m a l l A m e r i c a n u n i t s and 42d Divisions were in the trenches
under foreign off icers and the 26th was
in Allied regiments. ready for service.
The policy of em- The 32d and 41st Di-
ploying the American visions had arrived in
units as a single force, France but had been
steadfastly main- designated as re-
tained by General placement units, al-
Pershing in the face t h o u g h l a t e r, i n
of tremendous oppo- April, the 32d was
sition from the Allies, redesignated as a
unquestionably pro- combat division.
duced decisive results The German on-
that could not have slaught of March 21
been obtained other- struck the British in
wise. 1 Because of this Picardy between the
policy, the American Oise and the Scar pe
A r my, we I d e d i n t o Rivers along a front
o n e p owe r f u l b o d y, of about 50 miles,
inspired by the tra- p a r t o f wh i c h h a d
d i t i o n s o f i t s ow n been recently taken
country, conf ident in over from the French.
its leaders, and sure Within eight days the
of its ability in the attacking troops,
offensive, was f inally sweeping all before
enabled to deliver them, practically de-
the ter rif ic blows at stroyed the British
St. Mihiel, in the Fifth Army and pen-
A rg o n n e a n d a l o n g etrated to a maximum
the Meuse which depth of about 37
made possible the miles. The situation
defeat of Germany. was serious and
The Commander- many French Divi-
in-Chief speeded up Marshal Ferdinand Foch sions were rushed to
Allied Commander-in-Chief
to the utmost the aid the British.
use of American units in the front During this period the Allies were still
line. As a consequence, the 1st Division fur ther annoyed and troubled when on
relieved a French division in a sector March 23 the shelling of Paris by a large
n o r t h o f To u l i n J a n u a r y ; t h e 2 6 t h German gun from a distance of 75 miles
entered the line with the French north- was begun.
General Pershing, knowing the gravity
1
Marshal Pétain declared in a public address de- of the Allied position, deferred the execu-
livered in Versailles, France, in October 1937 that
General Pershing was right in opposing the amal- tion of his plan to form an American army
gamation of American troops with the Allied forces. a n d we n t t o G e n e r a l Fo c h a n d s a i d :
26 THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918

American Soldiers Advancing to Attack at Cantigny

“I have come to tell you that the upon French morale. Its conf ident opti-
American people would consider it a mism is an indication of the splendid
great honor for our troops to be engaged spirit of cooperation which characterized
in the present battle. I ask you for this the personnel of the entire American
in their name and my own. Army in France throughout the war.
“At this moment there are no other On March 26 General Foch was charged
questions but of f ighting. with coordinating the actions of the
“Infantr y, ar tiller y, aviation, all that French and British Ar mies, and soon
we have are yours: use them as you wish. afterwards on April 3 was given strategic
More will come, in numbers equal to d i r e c t i o n o f t h e Fr e n c h , B r i t i s h a n d
requirements. American Armies on the Western Front.
“I have come especially to tell you that Fortunately the Germans were stopped
the American people will be proud to take before capturing Amiens, the loss of
part in the greatest battle of history.” which would have separated the French
This message had a stimulating effect a n d B r i t i s h A r m i e s a n d e n a bl e d t h e
Germans to operate against each of them
Cantigny After Its Capture, May 28, 1918 s e p a r a t e ly. I n t h i s eve n t t h e B r i t i s h
Army would probably have had to hurry
out of northern France or else run the
risk of almost certain destruction.
The Germans succeeded in cutting one
railroad into Amiens from the south and
in seriously impeding traff ic on the others,
they increased the frontage which the
Allies were forced to hold with diminished
numbers, they proved that their forces
could break through the highly organized
d e f e n s e s o f t h e We s t e r n Fr o n t , t h ey
enormously increased the morale of their
own troops and very seriously lowered
that of the British and French units.
The f ighting near Amiens had scarcely
died down when, on April 9, the Germans
broke through the British lines in Flan-
ders on a 12-mile front along the Lys
THE WORLD WAR TO MAY 28, 1918 27

River south of Ypres. Their initial ad- prevent their being sent later to aid the
va n t a g e wa s n o t we l l ex p l o i t e d b u t British, the Germans decided to make an
operations were continued there until attack against the French Ar my f irst.
April 25 when the German troops suc- Immediately following the battle in
ceeded in capturing Mont Kemmel, which Flanders the American 1st Division, which
at the time was defended by French units had been in sector near Seicheprey, in
serving with the British Army. the St. Mihiel region, took over an ex-
A number of American medical, engi- ceedingly active portion of the line west
neer and air service units with the of Montdidier. It captured Cantigny on
British Army-took part in the operations May 28 in a well-planned operation and
near Amiens and along the Lys River. held that place in spite of violent and

The German High Command believed sustained counterattacks. This f ighting


that one more major attack against the again demonstrated the superb caliber
British Ar my would destroy it. How- of the American soldier in offensive and
ever, since elaborate preparations had defensive combat and since troops from
already been made to strike the French, the United States were at that time ar-
a n o ff e n s iv e a g a i n s t t h e m c o u l d b e riving in France in increasingly large
l a u n c h e d m u c h q u i c k e r. A s s u c h a n numbers, the Allied Armies and the Allied
attack would use up French reserves, and people could still hope for f inal victory.
German Infantry Advancing at the Chemin des Dames, May 1918 © G
Chapter II
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE
AISNE–MARNE REGION

T
HE German strategical plan for 1918 many French troops had been shifted
involved the destr uction of the from there to the British area. Conse-
British Army in the early spring, quently, when a German assault str uck
to be followed immediately by a crushing the Aisne front between Ber r y-au-Bac
bl ow a t t h e Fr e n c h . I n p u r s u a n c e o f and Anizy-le-Château early on the morn-
this plan, German offensive operations ing of May 27 it came as a surprise.
were launched in Picardy and Flanders The Germans carried the Chemin des
in March and April. Although gaining Dames positions in the f irst dash and
considerable ground and inflicting heavy crossed the Aisne River about noon on

losses, these operations failed in their bridges which the French had failed to
primary purpose of destroying the British. d e s t r oy. T h e i r p r og r e s s ex c e e d e d a l l
Meanwhile preparations for a powerful expectation. By evening they were south
drive against the French along the line of the Vesle, and early on the 29th had
of the Aisne River had been progressing. captured Soissons. Advancing rapidly
The Allied Commanders, after the toward the Marne River and meeting very
Ger man April attack in Flanders had little resistance, they started to exploit
been checked, felt sure that a new Ger- their success toward Paris. The French
man offensive was about to take place p e o p l e t h r o u g h o u t t h e c o u n t r y we r e
but were uncertain where it would fall. thrown into consternation, and the Govern-
It was considered improbable, however, ment made preparations to flee from Paris
that it would fall on the Aisne front, and to Bordeaux, a city much farther south.

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Airplane View of Vaux Shortly After Its Capture by the 2d Division on July 1, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 31

R e s e r v e s f r o m e v e r y q u a r t e r we r e proved beyond all doubt when the 2d


r ushed to the front to meet this new Division, starting on the morning of June
danger. Among these were the American 6, struck back at the Germans and after
2d and 3d Divisions which had been prolonged and bitter f ighting recaptured
turned over to the French by the Ameri- from them the strong positions of Belleau
c a n C o m m a n d e r- i n - C h i e f . T h ey we r e Wood, Bouresches and Vaux.
hurried forward by forced marches and by This f ighting caused a change in the
every available means of transportation. German opinion which up to that time had
The motorized machine gun battalion been frankly skeptical of the f ighting
o f t h e 3 d D iv i s i o n r e a c h e d C h â t e a u - ability of the American soldier and the
Thierry on May 31, and there gallantly driving power of American units. This
assisted in preventing the Germans from change is illustrated by the following
crossing the Marne. As the infantry units extracts from a communication issued on
of the 3d Division came up they reinforced J u n e 1 7 by t h e G e r m a n c o r p s wh i c h
French units holding the south bank of opposed the 2d Division and which had
the river as far eastward as Courthiézy, previously issued orders that as many
8 miles from Château-Thierry. casualties as possible be inflicted upon
The 2d Division, arriving by truck on the Americans: “The personnel must be
June 1, immediately went into position called excellent . . . The spirit of the
nor thwest of Château-Thier r y. Facing troops is high . . . The 2d American
nor theast, with its center at Lucy-le- Division can be rated as a ver y good
Bocage, the division established its line d iv i s i o n . . . T h e va r i o u s a t t a c k s o f
across the main route to Paris, where it the marines were carried out smartly and
repulsed all attacks and effectively stopped ruthlessly. The moral effect of our f ire
the German advance in that direction. did not materially check the advance of
Wi t h t h i s A m e r i c a n a s s i s t a n c e t h e the infantry. The nerves of the Americans
French were able to stem the onslaught, are still unshaken.”
but only after the Germans had driven a Although the Ger mans in their May
great salient, roughly def ined by the tri- attack made a deep penetration to the
angle formed by Reims, Château-Thierry west and southwest of Reims, they failed
and Soissons, into the Allied lines. in their efforts to capture that city and
In addition to a 30-mile gain straight i t s i m p o r t a n t r a i lway f a c i l i t i e s . A s a
toward the heart of France, the Germans result, the 40 divisions which they had
captured 60,000 prisoners, 650 cannon thrown into the salient were in a danger-
and enor mous quantities of supplies, ous situation as they were mainly de-
ammunition and equipment. The situa- pendent for food, supplies and ammuni-
tion looked ver y black for the Allies. tion on one railroad through Soissons.
Their rays of hope, however, were the This fact was realized by the American
rapid arrival of American troops, which Commander-in-Chief who saw that if the
were then pouring into France at the rate heights south of that city were seized and
of about 9,000 per day, and their grow- held by the Allies the Germans would be
ing knowledge of the splendid dash and deprived of the use of the railroad and
combat ability of the American soldiers, would be compelled to retire from the
then being tested daily in battle. Marne, thus removing the threat against
These characteristics had been amply Paris. He proposed that these heights
demonstrated by the troops of the 1st b e a t t a c k e d a n d c a p t u r e d a t o n c e by
Division in its capture of Cantigny, north American troops. The Allied Com-
of Paris, on May 28, and in its retention mander-in-Chief approved the idea of such
of that place despite repeated counter- an attack b ut felt that he was not yet
attacks, as well as by the brilliant f ight- ready to assume the offensive.
i n g o f t h e 2 d a n d 3 d D iv i s i o n s n e a r The German High Command also
C h â t e a u - T h i e r r y. T h e y we r e f i n a l ly r e a l ized the dangerous position of its
Vincelles on the
Marne Under
French Artillery
Fire, June 1918. ©
G

German Reserves
Advancing Close
Behind the Assault
Line at Chavignon,
May 1918 © G

German Troops
Just Before an
Assault Near Fismes,
on Terrain Untouched
by the War,
May 1918. © G

Germans With a Trainload Part of a German Barge Sharing a Meal


of Provisions Which Were Battery of Heavy Abandoned by an English
Left by the French South Artillery Firing on the Officer on the Chemin des
of the Aisne, May 1918 © Western Front, May 1918. Dames Early on May 27,
G ©G 1918. © G
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 33

troops in the salient, and promptly un- the exact day and hour the offensive was
dertook operations to relieve the situa- scheduled to commence.
t i o n . C o n s e q u e n t l y, o n J u n e 9 t wo There were 26 American divisions in
German armies started an attack toward France on July 15 and the American and
Compiègne, for which careful prepara- Allied strength was then superior to that
tions had previously been made, in an of the Germans. The combat training of
attempt to widen the the American divisions
salient and to secure wa s p r og r e s s i n g we l l
the use of the railroad a n d s eve n w i r e r e a d y
between that place and for battle operations,
Soissons. They met, while f ive others were
h oweve r, d e t e r m i n e d holding quiet sectors
resistance from the of the line. Thus 12
Fr e n c h a n d f a i l e d t o American divisions, the
reach their objective. equivalent in numbers
The next move of the of 24 French, British or
Germans was to begin German divisions, were
preparations for a great available for service in
offensive on both sides the front line.
of Reims, in the general With this increase in
d i r e c t i o n o f E p e r n ay strength and with
and Châlons-sur-Marne. many more Americans
This attack was to o n t h e way, G e n e r a l
capture Reims and the Foch def initely decided
high ground to the t o a t t a c k t h e we s t e r n
south of it, and by so face of the Marne sali-
doing secure the use of ent, as had been previ-
another great trunk ously proposed by Gen-
line railroad. The sep- eral Pershing. In view
aration of the French of the enemy’s known
forces defending Paris i n t e n t i o n t o a d va n c e
from those in the vicin- on both sides of Reims,
ity of Verdun was con- t h i s A l l i e d o ff e n s ive
sidered a possibility. wa s o f t h e g r e a t e s t
A formidable ar ray of importance as it was to
three armies, totaling be launched against
4 7 d iv i s i o n s , a n d a n t h e m a s t v u l n e r a bl e
enormous amount of part of the hostile line.
ar tillery were ass e m - The task of drawing
bled, and nothing was up the necessary plans
left undone to provide for meeting the German
both the troops and assault and for the
matériel considered Marshal Pétain, counterattack to be
necessary to break the Commander-in-Chief French Armies, launched later, fell to
French battle lines. Picture taken at Chaumont, General Pétain, the
Meanwhile, the January 1919 French Commander-in-
A l l i e s we r e exe r t i n g Chief. He later stated
ev e r y e ff o r t t o p r e p a r e f o r t h e n ex t that it would not nave been possible to
German attack, and to discover where it carry out the counterattack, which suc-
would fall. In this last they were singu- ceeded far beyond expectations, without
larly successful, for not only did they the aid of the American troops.
learn the front to be attacked but they To meet the German attack, General
were also fortunate enough to determine P é t a i n o r d e r e d t h a t t h e f r o n t l i n e b e
34 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

German Troops Ready for an Attack North of Compiègne, June 1918 © G

The Same Troops Jumping Off a Few Minutes Later © G


held by weak detachments only, which
were to retire before a strong hostile
assault, and that the main resistance be
made on the intermediate position 1 to
2 miles in rear of the front line. When
the attack came, these tactics proved
exceptionally successful and most of the
heavy German artillery and trench-mortar
preparatory f ire was wasted on the aban-
doned French front-line trenches.
In addition the Allies prof ited by their
knowledge of the hour of the Ger man
attack by starting their ar tiller y bom-
bardment about 30 minutes before the
German artillery was scheduled to com-
mence f iring. The Allied bombardment
caused heavy losses and much confusion Phosphorus Bomb Exploding
in the ranks of the Germans assembled
for the initial assault. Certain German Château-Thierry, was subjected to intense
units suffered so severely they had to be artillery f ire and repeated assaults in the
easter n par t of its sector. The French
replaced before the attack began.
East of Reims, in the attack against unit on its right was compelled to give
t h e Fr e n c h Fo u r t h A r my, t h e h o s t i l e w ay, wh i c h m a d e t h e t a s k o f t h e 3 d
Division extremely diff icult. However,
troops mere heavily shelled upon reaching
the abandoned front line, and upon the Germans who succeeded in crossing
approaching the inter mediate position the Mar ne on its front were counter-
attacked and driven back and by noon of
were met with withering f ire and f ierce
counterattacks. The offensive there broke the 16th, no enemy troops remained south
down all along the front. Southwest of o f t h e M a n e i n t h e d i v i s i o n s e c t o r,
except on its extreme right flank where
Reims, the Germans succeeded in crossing
the Mane and advancing on both banks the front line was bent back to connect
of the river toward Epernay. When this with the adjoining French division.
Elements of the 28th Division were in
attack was f inally stopped, eight German
divisions were south of the Marne in a line with the French divisions on each
small area between Epernay and Mézy. A Regimental Staff of the 4th Division in
In this defensive operation, the Ameri- Conference Near the Vesle River, August 9, 1918
can soldiers still further distinguished
themselves. The 42d Division, serving
with the French Fourth Army, took part
i n t h e b a t t l e a n d f u l ly m e a s u r e d u p
t o t h e reputation of the Americans as
splendid f ighting men. The 369th In-
fantry of the 93d Division was also with
the French Four th Army at that time,
although not engaged in battle on the
front of the main German attack.
A graphic representation of the opera-
tions now, to be described is given on the
map at the end of the chapter. It should
be consulted in reading this narrative.
The 3d Division, in line along the Marne
River from opposite Jaulgonne to

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3d Division Troops Entrucking Near Moulins

s i d e o f t h e 3 d, a n d s o m e o f i t s u n i t s T h e Fr e n c h Fi f t h , N i n t h , S i x t h a n d
e n countered extremely heavy f ighting. Tenth Armies, in line from right to left
Northwest of Château-Thierry, the front on the front from Reims to Compiègne,
o f t h e A m e r i c a n I C o r p s , h e l d by a we r e e n g a g e d . T h e Te n t h A r my, n e a r
French division and the American 26th Soissons, was designated to deliver the
D iv i s i o n , wh i c h h a d r e l i eve d t h e 2 d main attack. The spearhead of that
i n t h e sector between Vaux and Torcy, Army was the French XX Cor ps, which
was subjected to a heavy bombardment. was to capture the high ground south of
The 2d, which had suffered over 8,100 Soissons. It consisted of the American
casualties in the f ighting near Belleau 1st and 2d Divisions and the French 1st
Wo o d, a n d t h e 4 t h D iv i s i o n we r e i n M o r o c c a n D iv i s i o n . I t s d i r e c t i o n o f
reserve to the west of the salient. The attack was eastward over the plateau
1st Division was northeast of Paris. just south of Soissons and across the
On July 17 the German High Command main railroad and road leading south
ordered the offensive stopped. The from that place. The composition of the
assaulting troops had suffered tremendous cor ps was such that four f ifths of its
losses and none of the important results numerical strength was American.
expected had been obtained. The concentration of troops was car-
Regardless of their terrif ic defeat, the ried out with the utmost secrecy, the 1st
German leaders were still determined to and 2d Divisions going into line only at
maintain the offensive, realizing that the the last minute. Some units of the 2d
American forces were rapidly increasing D iv i s i o n m a r c h e d a l l n i g h t a n d t h e n
and that victory must be won quickly or double-timed over muddy roads in the
not at all. The troops recently repulsed dark in order to jump off with the bar-
were directed to prepare to resume the rage. The assault was launched in the
a t t a c k a s q u i c k ly a s p r a c t i c a bl e , a n d early morning of July 18 and took the
plans for another offensive against the German troops by surprise.
British Army were pushed. The units of the 1st and 2d Divisions,
The Allies, however, took immediate with those of the 1st Moroccan Division
a d va n t a g e o f t h e G e r m a n d e f e a t a n d between them, advanced with character-
launched the previously prepared counter- istic dash and vigor. They quickly pierced
offensive against the Aisne-Marne salient. the hostile front lines, overran the for-

(36)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 37

ward artillery positions, and took many French advance at that point could not
prisoners. By 8:00 a.m. they had ad- be promptly and def initely checked.
vanced more than 3 miles and were in The Ger man retirement began on the
possession of ground which practically as- night of July 19–20 with the evacuation
sured the success of the whole battle. of all ground south of the Marne. From
To the south, elements of the 4th Di- then on, their withdrawal was conducted
vision attacking as a part of two French in successive stages, the Germans attempt-
divisions in the Sixth Ar my, had pro- ing to save what they could of the enor-
gressed about 2 miles by nightfall. Still mous quantities of supplies, ammunition
farther south the 26th Division captured and equipment in the salient. Inter me-
the villages of Belleau and Torcy. In diate positions were prepared and each
the Ninth Army, the 3d Division, which one defended desperately until the pres-
was in line on the south bank of the sure of the continued attacks against it
M a r n e , d i d n o t a t t a c k t h a t d ay. T h e forced a further withdrawal.
2 8 t h Division was near the 3d in reserve. The 1st and 2d Divisions encountered
As a result of the deep advance of the fresh German troops on the 19th, but in
XX Corps on July 18, the situation of the spite of bitter opposition throughout the
Ger man troops in the salient became day both made important gains. The 2d
most precarious and orders for a gradual Division surged forward about 2 miles to
withdrawal were issued by the German the Soissons-Château-Thier ry highway
H i g h C o m m a n d t h a t n i g h t . R e s e r ve s but after severe f ighting was forced back
were sent to the south of Soissons with and established itself just west of Tigny,
the utmost speed and orders were given with the road about 1 / 2 mile away under
to hold the ground there at all costs until t h e c o n t r o l o f i t s g u n s . T h e d iv i s i o n
the withdrawal from the salient could be was relieved from the line that night by
accomplished. In fact, a disastrous de- a Fr e n c h d iv i s i o n . I t h a d d r iv e n t h e
feat was cer tain if the American and e n e my b a c k 6 m i l e s , c a p t u r e d 3 , 0 0 0
2d Division Moving Up for the Attack on July 18, 1918

1st Division Artillery in Position Near Ploisy, July 20, 1918

Artillery Horses Assembled Near the Front Line Ready to Move Battery Forward, July 20, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 39

prisoners and 75 guns, and in turn had and suffered a loss of about 6,900 off icers
suffered casualties of about 4,300 men. and men. The 1st and 2d Divisions on
On the following day, the attention of the this battlef ield wrote a most brilliant page
1st Division was directed particularly to- in American military history.
ward Berzy-le-Sec. That town had origi- While the struggle near Soissons was
nally been in the zone of action of the ad- going on, the American troops with the
jacent French division which, after several French Sixth Army continued to advance.
attempts, had failed to capture it. The The units of the 4th Division, whose
task was then turned over to the Ameri- total losses were 2,100, gained an ad-
cans. The f ighting near the town was ditional 2 miles before the last of its

waged with the g reatest fur y, the 1st troops were relieved on the morning of
Division capturing it on the 21st. On July 21; and the 26th Division drove the
that same day the division crossed the Germans through the Bois de Bouresches
Soissons-Château-Thierry highway which and beyond, after hard f ighting. Assisted
was one of the objectives of the Tenth par t of the time by the 56th Inf antr y
Army attack. The division was relieved Brigade of the 28th Division, it con-
on the night of July 22, after f ive days tinued the pursuit until the 24th of July,
in the line. It had advanced almost 7 when it was stopped near La Croix
miles, captured 3,500 prisoners and 68 Rouge Far m, having made an advance
guns from 7 different German divisions of 10 miles and having suffered more
40 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

American Battery in Action Near Chéry-Chartreuve

than 5,000 casualties during its service which had relieved a French division two
on the front line in this region. days before. These two divisions deliv-
On July 21 the 3d Division crossed the ered a combined attack on July 30 in which
Mar ne River and joined the advance, the 28th Division captured the Bois des
capturing Mont St. Pére that day and Grimpettes, after which it passed into
Jaulgonne on the following day. Steadily reserve, while the 32d continued in the
pressing on, it took Le Charmel during offensive covering both divisional fronts.
the 25th, after a bitter contest, and on the O n t h e f o l l ow i n g d ay t h e 3 2 d t o o k
28th crossed the Ourcq River and seized Cierges, and on August 1, after deter-
R o n c h è r e s . W h e n i t wa s w i t h d r aw n mined attacks, captured the important
from the line on the 30th it had taken p o s i t i o n o f L e s J o m bl e t s , h o l d i n g i t
part in three major engagements and had against sustained and vicious counter-
advanced about 10 miles, Its losses, in- attacks. On August 2 it took up the
cluding those in the defensive operations pursuit of the Germans, who had been
along the Mar ne River, were, all told, forced to fall back to their next prepared
nearly 6,600 off icers and men. line north of the Vesle River.
The 42d Division, which relieved the The 4th Division, which had relieved
26th near La Croix Rouge Far m, suc- the 42d on August 3, and the 32d were now
ceeded in crossing the Ourcq on July 28. the only American divisions in line and
Just nor th of that river it engaged in they pushed forward side by side. On
stubborn f ighting, some points changing August 4 the 32d captured Fismes, on
hands as many as four times. It cap- the south bank of the Vesle. During the
tured Sergy and Seringes-et-Nesles and next few days the 4th and 32d Divisions
persistently fought its way forward until and the 6th Infantry Brigade of the 3d,
relieved on August 3 during the pursuit which had entered the line to the right
o f t h e e n e my t owa r d t h e Ve s l e . T h e of the 32d, made deter mined attempts
division was assisted part of this time by to establish bridgeheads nor th of the
the 47th Infantr y Regiment of the 4th r ive r. O n A u g u s t 7 t h e 3 2 d D iv i s i o n
Division. When taken out of the battle wa s r e l i eve d by t h e 2 8 t h . I t h a d a d -
the 42d had advanced 7 miles and had vanced 11 miles and lost almost 3,800
suffered almost 6,500 casualties. men. The 6th Inf antr y Brigade of the
The 32d Division entered the line on 3d Division was relieved on August 11,
July 30 on the right of the 28th Division, its losses having been approximately 600.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 41

Meanwhile, on August 4 the American Italian divisions which had previously


III Cor ps had taken command of the been in line or in reserve in this region.
troops near Fismes, thus placing two The results of this battle were most im-
American corps in line side by side for the por tant. The threat against Paris was
f i r s t t i m e i n t h e wa r. T h e s e c t o r s o f removed, important railroads were freed
these corps comprised the entire front for Allied use, the American soldier
commanded by the French Sixth Army. proved to all concerned his ability as a
The reduction of the Aisne-Marne f ighter and it was obvious that the con-
salient was completed when the American stantly increasing American forces were
and Allied troops reached the Vesle River. to he the derisive factor in the war. The
The counterattack having achieved its a t t a c k s o u t h o f S o i s s o n s c o m p l e t e ly
purpose and the Germans having shown changed the militar y situation. There-
their intention to hold the line of the Vesle after the initiative was in the hands of the
in force, the general attack on that front Allied Ar mies, and the Ger mans were
was stopped on August 6. The American forced into a defensive rôle and fought
troops, however, continued to exert pres- only to avert a serious disaster.
sure against the enemy. On August 10 This situation made it possible for the
the 28th Division succeeded in capturing American Commander-in-Chief to insist
F i s m e t t e , o p p o s i t e Fi s m e s . T h e 4 t h again upon the formation of an American
Division before being relieved on August combat army. After several conferences
12, after having suffered about 3,500 with General Foch an ag reement was
casualties, established a small force on reached, and on August 10 the American
the north bank of the Vesle River. First Ar my was organized and shortly
At the start of the counterattack, the thereafter the assembly of American divi-
Germans had 50 divisions between Reims sions in the St. Mihiel region was begun.
and Compiègne. To withstand the Allied In compliance with the desire of
assault temporarily, they had been forced General Foch 1 to retain some American
to throw 27 more divisions into the salient. units with the Allied Ar my, the 77th
During the same period the Allies had Division, which had relieved the 4th, and
added 8 French and 3 American divisions the 28th were allowed to remain in line
to the 42 French, 6 American (equivalent 1
General Foch was made a Marshal of France on Au-
of 12 French divisions), 4 British and 1 gust 6, 1918, toward the conclusion of the fighting.

Main Bridge Between Fismes and Fismette Destroyed by the Retreating Germans
42 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

on the Vesle, while the 32d was left in the and Vesle having been over 6,700 off icers
area as a reserve under French orders. and men. The 17th was relieved later, on
With a view to continuing the pressure S e p t e m b e r 1 6 , i t s c a s u a l t i e s h av i n g
and giving the Germans no time to rest or totaled nearly 4,300, and both divisions
reorganize, Allied operations were imme- moved eastward to tale part in the Meuse-
diately planned against other portions of Argonne operations of the American First
the front. The f irst of these, the Somme Army which occurred shortly afterward.
offensive, was begun by the British on During the latter part of September the
August 3 against the salient immediately 370th Infantry of the 93d Division served
east of Amiens and was highly successful. in the line north of Vauxaillon, as a part
Then followed on August IX the French of the French 59th Division, and made a
Oise-Aisne offensive in the vicinity of substantial advance. It remained in line
Noyon for the pur pose of flanking the until about the middle of October, when
German positions on the Vesle and Aisne it was relieved. It reentered the battle on
Rivers and forcing them to be abandoned. November 5 and participated in the pursuit
This offensive succeeded in its purpose, of the German Ar my. The activities of
aided to a large extent by the American this regiment concluded the American
32d Division which attacked from August f ighting in the Aisne-Marne region.
23 to September 1, capturing the town of During the severe battles in this area,
Juvigny in a brilliant assault and pene- a total American force of about 310,000
trating the hostile positions to a depth of men, which comprised two corps head-
2 1 /2 miles. The division was taken out of quarters, nine divisions, air units, heavy
the line during September 2 after having artillery, medical troops and transporta-
suffered more than 2,600 casualties. tion units, served with the Allies and
The progress of the Oise-Aisne offen- suffered losses of more than 67,000.
sive forced the Germans to retire from the While some American units attracted
Vesle on the night of September 3–4. The special attention due to their g reater
American 28th and 77th Divisions, which experience and the importance of their ob-
we r e s t i l l i n l i n e t h e r e , a d va n c e d i n jectives, yet the reputations of all Ameri-
pursuit and attacked the new German line can divisions which served in this region
near the Aisne River. After a number of were enhanced by their gallant conduct
local successes the 28th was relieved on in battle, and they received unstinted
September 3, its total losses on the Ourcq praise from all, especially the French.
American Unit Entraining at Château-Thierry
A TOUR OF THE AMERICAN BATTLEFIELDS
IN THE AISNE-MARNE REGION

T HIS tour, which is a long one, begins


and ends at Paris. It can be completed
in ten hours if care is taken not to spend too
much time at interesting points. To save
time lunch should he carried.
Soissons is suggested as a stopping place
for those who desire to spend more than
one day in the area. It is on the described
route and from there one ran conveni-
ently reach the French battlef ields along
the Chemin des Dames, and those of the
American 32d Division near Juvigny and
the 310th Infantry, 93d Division, in the
vicinity of Vauxaillon.
The data given on pages 520–521 will
be helpful to those following this tour.
The narrative at the beginning of the
chapter should be kept in mind and the
map at the end consulted so that the
various operations which took place in
the region of this tour will be more clearly
understood by the tourist.
The speedometer distances given are
for general reference and are not essential Monument Near Meaux
to marshal Gallieni
in following this tour. They may, how-
Erected by the City of Paris
ever, be helpful in a few places and for
that reason it is suggested that at the
bridge in La Ferté-sous-Jouarre the tour- whose famous “taxicab ar my” hur ried
ist set his speedometer to agree with the forward from Paris to this vicinity in
distance which appears in the text. September 1914 to aid in stopping the
When following this itinerary, unless progress of the German Armies.
contrary road instructions are given, the (27.5 m 44.2 km) At entrance to Meaux,
tourist should continue straight ahead. at main road fork, take right branch.
M e a u x wa s n e a r t h e b a t t l e l i n e f o r
EN ROUTE PARIS TO NORTH OF LUCY-
several days in 1914 during the First
LE-BOCAGE
Battle of the Marne. Desperate f ighting
(0 m 0 km) Leave vicinity of the Place took place immediately to the north of it.
de l’Opéra in Paris on Rue Lafayette. An interesting old cathedral is seen to
Follow Highway N–3 through Claye and the left of the road in the center of town.
Meaux to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre. For a A monument, consisting of a colossal
considerable distance beyond Paris, N-3 is statuary group, to commemorate the First
indicated on street signs as the Rue de Paris. Battle of the Marne is located a short dis-
(18.3 m 29.4 km) Claye is the point tance northeast of Meaux. It was erected
nearest Paris reached by hostile patrols by Americans with funds raised in America.
during the German advance in 1914. To visit, just before reaching far side of
(24.1 m 38.8 km) About 5 miles beyond Meaux turn left on main road to Soissons
Claye, near the right side of the road, is (N-36) and proceed 1/2 mile to monument.
seen a monument to Marshal Gallieni Time required for side trip—10 minutes.
(30.9 m 49.7 km) At A m e r i c a n Fi r s t A r my H e a d q u a r t e r s
Trilport the route goes was organized here on August 10, 1918.
ove r t h e h i s t o r i c It remained but a short time, moving to
M a r n e R ive r o n a Neufchâteau three days later.
masonry bridge parts of (39.7 m 63.9 km) Cross the Marne
which were destroyed River and continue toward Château-
by the French in 1814, Thierry still following Highway N-3.
1870 and again in 1914 (45.5 m 73.2 km) Montreuil-aux-Lions
to hinder the march was the Headquarters of the 2d Division
toward Paris of invad- during the early part of its f ighting in the
ing armies. Small vicinity of Belleau Wood.
plates on the right-hand (47.1 m 75.8 km) Just after leaving
wall record the dates t ow n , o n t h e r i g h t i s s e e n a B r i t i s h
of the destruction and military cemetery. A large cross of the
Monument Erected
Northeast of Meaux to reconstruction. type erected therein is the distinguishing
Commemorate the (39.6 m 63.7 km) In feature of each British World War mili-
First Battle of the Marne La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, t a r y c e m e t e r y. M o s t o f t h e s o l d i e r s
in 1914 turn to the left at the buried here fell in September 1914.
large monument. The infantry of the American 2d
This monument is to the unknown dead Division detrained at Montreuil-aux-
of the British Expeditionary Force which Lions while hur rying forward to enter
landed in France during August 1914. the battle line near Belleau Wood. They
It was here that this British force, after its reported this road crowded and, in some
memorable retreat from near Mons, struck places, blocked with French civilians
back with vigor at the German divisions and troops endeavoring to get out of the
in the First Rattle of the Marne. way of the German advance.
To the left of the bridge, on the river (49.6 m 79.8 km) At the next bend in
banks, are markers which indicate the the road, about 2 miles farther on, is a
place where British troops recrossed the large group of buildings called Paris Farm.
river on a temporary bridge, built by the This farm was several miles in rear of the
Royal Engineers while under hostile f ire. battle line during June and July, and
The American I Corps Headquarters was subjected to frequent bombardments
was located in this town from June 18 to by German heavy artillery.
July 21, and from August 13 to August 18. (51.0 m 82.1 km) About a mile farther

Assault Unit of 26th Division in Attack on Torcy at 4:35 a. m., July 18, 1918

(44)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 45

on, turn to the left toward Belleau Wood. If view to the right front is obstructed
(51.8 m 83.3 km) In the valley just for any reason climb bank at left of road.
before reaching the next village, Lucy- B e l l e a u Wo o d i s t h e n e a r e s t wo o d
le-Bocage, a culvert is crossed near which s e e n to the right front and right. The
medical off icers of the United States obser ver is standing on the line from
Navy, attached to the Marine Brigade wh i c h t h e f i r s t a t t a c k a g a i n s t i t wa s
of the 2d Division, maintained a dressing launched by the 2d Division.
station. Many of the division wounded During the last days of May 1918 a
were treated here and sent to the rear powerful German offensive had broken
along the small valley to the left. through the Chemin des Dames front and
(52.1 m 83.8 km) Lucy-le-Bocage was German troops were advancing rapidly
completely destroyed by German shell- t owa r d t h e M a r n e R iv e r. T h e A l l i e d
f ire during the f ighting near by. situation was critical and reserves from
The boulder marker, seen at the left side a l l p a r t s o f t h e We s t e r n F r o n t we r e
of the road just before reaching the promptly rushed to this region.
church, is one of many such markers A m o n g t h e t r o o p s h u r r i e d ly m ove d
e r e c t e d by t h e 2 d D iv i s i o n a f t e r t h e here was the American 2d Division, which
Armistice, on or near its battlef ields. included one brigade of marines. Arriv-
(52.4 m 84.3 km) At the crest of the ing on June 1, it was assigned a battle
first hill beyond the village, STOP. position with its center near this point.
Face down the road, which direction is All available men immediately began
approximately north. (See sketch above.) digging trenches and otherwise preparing
46 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

French Refugees Fleeing From the Germans During the Advance of May 1918

for defense, the Ger mans at the time directed that they be denied any success
being delayed by French detachments in whatsoever and that as much damage as
positions on the near slopes of the line of possible be inflicted upon them. Conse-
hills seen in the distance approximately quently, as the Americans were deter-
2 miles away to the right front. mined to regain certain strong points
The front line organized by the division which the Ger mans had captured, the
ran around the wood seen on top of the f ighting near here was wry bitter and the
hill about 600 yards to the left front, in- casualties on both sides were out of all
cluded this point, and continued on to the proportion to the amount of ground
right rear passing around the buildings of which f inally changed hands.
Triangle, seen on the hillside a mile away During the morning of June 6, the f irst
in that direction. It then crossed the of the many 2d Division attacks in this
main highway which the tour has been vicinity was launched from its line on the
following from Paris, thus blocking the far side of the wood to the left front.
direct road to that important place. This attack, made in conjunction with the
Small advance g roups of the enemy Fr e n c h , r e s u l t e d i n a g a i n o f a b o u t
came in contact with that section of the 1 / 2 mile. That afternoon a powerful as-

American line near Triangle on June 2 sault against Belleau Wood was made
and during the next day a deter mined from here and succeeded in obtaining a
assault against the left of the 2d Division foothold in that part of the wood seen to
position was repulsed with heavy losses. the right. While advancing across the
On June 4 the entire front line of the divi- open f ields to the right front, heavy casu-
sion was engaged and on that day the alties were suffered. During the course of
advance of the Ger man forces in this the attack the village of Bouresches to the
region was def initely stopped. right at the foot of this hill, but not visible,
T h e G e r m a n H i g h C o m m a n d, u p o n was captured and held in spite of f ive de-
hearing of the presence of American termined attempts made by the Germans
troops on this impor tant battle front, during the next few days to recapture it.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 47

Belleau Wood, which is shaped some- e n e my i n t h e f l a n k a n d r o a r. T h i s


what like a distorted hour glass, with the resulted in many captures and hand-to-
lower or southern section to the right of hand combats. Elements of the attack-
here and the larger upper or northern sec- ing force reached the f ar edge of the
tion to the observer’s right front, was the wood where they themselves were at-
scene of prolonged and bitter struggles tacked in the rear. The f ighting con-
in which the 7th Infantry of the 3d Di- tinued violently throughout the day, the
vision and engineer troops of the 2d Germans making two organized counter-
Division, acting as infantry, assisted for attacks by fresh battalions. That night
a brief period before its rapture was no par t of the norther n section of the
f inally completed many days later. wood was retained, although the south-
Severe f ighting took place in the south- ern section, to the right of here, was for
ern part of Belleau Wood an June 7 and the f irst time entirely occupied.
8, but all efforts to advance resulted in On June 12 the northern section of the
only minor gains. The wood was aban- wood was again attacked and about one
doned on the 9th to permit the artillery third of it taken. From that day on the
to concentrate its f ire an the German posi- f ighting in it was f ierce and furious.
tions there without endangering Ameri- Counterattacks followed attacks as each
can troops, and on the 10th a determined side, deter mined not to yield an inch,
attack was launched against the wood stubbornly defended its positions. The
from the line to the right of here. This casualties were heavy as the ar tiller y
regained the positions previously held but executed prolonged bombardments and
in spite of every effort the troops were un- the machine guns took their toll. In the
able to progress farther. Consequently, end, however, the determination of the
on June 11 another attack against the Americans prevailed and Belleau Wood,
entire wood was launched from near here after a bitter str uggle an June 25, was
in the direction of the observer’s right def initely cleared of the enemy.
front. The assaulting units entered the On July 1, following a terrif ic 24-hour
northern part of the wood and took the bombardment, the town of Vaux, to the
American Reserves Passing Through La Ferté-sous-Jouarre
En Route to the Front, July 1918
48 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

right rear from here beyond the large this front, in spite of a casualty list of ap-
wood in the distance, was captured by the proximately 8,100 off icers and men, was
infantry and engineers of the 2d Divi- widely and enthusiastically proclaimed by
sion in a perfectly executed attack, with the French Army and the people of France.
but few losses to themselves.
During the f ighting on June 6 to the left EN ROUTE NORTH OF LUCY-LE-BOCAGE
front, Gunnery Sergeant Charles F. Hoff- TO BELLEAU WOOD
man, Marine Corps, 2d Division, performed
the feat for which he was awarded the (52.6 m 84.6 km) At the road junction
Congressional Medal of Honor, the high- 200 yards ahead, turn to the right.
est award for bravery given by the Ameri- (53.5 m 86.1 km) At the flagpole in the
can Government. Immediately after his center of Belleau Wood, STOP.
company had reached its objective, sev- T h i s wo o d, o ff i c i a l ly c a l l e d by t h e
eral hostile counterattacks were launched French the Bois de la Brigade de Marine
against it. Sergeant Hoffman was at- in honor of the unit mainly responsible
tempting to organize the new position for its capture, is now owned by the
when he saw 12 of the enemy, armed with United States Government. It is being
f ive light machine guns, crawling toward maintained as a memorial to all American
his group. Giving the alarm, he rushed troops who fought in Europe during the
the hostile detachment, bayoneted the World War. It is the only place on this
two leaders, and forced the others to flee, tour where evidences of the f ighting still
abandoning their guns. His quick action, exist to any extent, as the other battlefields
initiative and courage drove the enemy of this section of France again have been
from a place where they could have swept placed under intensive cultivation.
the hill with machine-gun f ire and forced The remains of trenches and various
the withdrawal of his company. relies of the war may be seen by walking
The splendid conduct of the 2d Division through the wood, and a visit to the small
in f ighting the enemy to a standstill on museum will disclose many interesting

Belleau Wood
Note the field crossed by the 2d Division in its first attack against the wood
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 49

German Combat Group Working Its Way Forward,


may 1918. © G

weapons and articles of equipment a large aganda that the American Army is equal
number of which were found near by. to or even superior to the German, will
The large cleared space near the mu- be successful.”
seum and that part of the wood beyond
EN ROUTE BELLEAU WOOD TO AISNE-
the clearing were captured on June 25 in
MARNE AMERICAN CEMETERY
an assault launched at 5 o’clock in the
afternoon. An artillery bombardment of (53.6 m 86.2 km) While proceeding
14 hours preceded this attack, during through Belleau Wood, note the uneven
which many thousands of shells of all cal- character of the terrain and the tangled
ibers were poured into this small area. undergrowth which greatly hindered the
The f ighting lasted well into the night advance of the American troops.
before this part of Belleau Wood, the last (54.0 m 86.9 km) Soon after leaving the
section of the wood to be captured, was wood another 2d Division boulder marker
f inally in the hands of the 2d Division. is passed and shor tly thereafter to the
The importance of the American success left is seen the Aisne-Mane American
in this region is indicated by the following Cemetery. The church passed near the
extract from a statement which a German corner of the cemetery is one restored by
division commander published to his an association of veterans of the 26th
troops who were engaged in the f ighting: Division as a memorial to that division.
“Should the Americans on our front even (54.5 m 87.7 km) Beyond the church,
t e m p o r a r i ly g a i n t h e u p p e r h a n d, i t turn to the left into the cemetery.
would have a most unfavorable effect for The building on the right of the drive-
us as regards the morale of the Allies and way contains a reception room for the
the duration of the war. In the f ighting convenience of visitors and the off ice of
that now confronts us, we are not con- the superintendent in charge of the cem-
cerned about the occupation or non- etery. Inquiries concerning the location
occupation of this or that unimportant of a particular grave should be made at this
wood or village, but rather with the ques- off ice. The building on the left is the
tion as to whether Anglo-American prop- residence of the cemetery superintendent.
General View of Aisne-Marne American Cemetery Near Belleau
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 51

Airplane View of Aisne-Marne Cemetery


This cemetery, laid out in a sweeping
curve at the foot of the hill upon which
s t a n d s B e l l e a u Wo o d, c o n t a i n s 2 , 2 8 8
g raves. The majority of those buried
here are from units which fought in the
immediate vicinity and along the Marne
River. Some hundreds of bodies, how-
ever, were moved here in 1922 from war-
time cemeteries in the general vicinity of
Altar of Chapel
Lyon and Clermont in central France.
From the center of the hillside rises the
memorial chapel, a striking example of
French Romanesque architecture. Over
its entrance is car ved the f igure of a
crusader in armor, flanked by the shields
of the United States and France. The
decorative sculpture of the door and win-
dow openings is of trench scenes and
articles of militar y equipment. Around
the top of the tower runs a frieze of shields
upon which are carved the insignia
of the American corps and divisions which
participated in the operations that took
place in the Aisne-Marne region.
Door of Chapel
The crowning feature of the interior is
the exquisitely carved and gilded altar,
Entrance to Cemetery
52 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Machine Gun Unit of the 26th Division Going into Action


Near Belleau, July 19, 1918

the solemn beauty of which is heightened tured by troops of the American 26th
by t h e e ff e c t o f t h e t h r e e b e a u t i f u l Division during July in severe f ighting.
stained-glass windows above it. These T h e 2 6 t h D iv i s i o n r e l i eve d t h e 2 d
represent St. Michael triumphing over Division on a line passing through this
the powers of evil, St. Louis the great point on July 10. Its front line was then
crusader, and St. Denis the patron saint about 5 miles long. On this part of the
o f Fr a n c e . T h e t r a n s e p t w i n d ow s a r e front it faced in the direction the observer
decorated with coats of arms of the United is now faring but to the right of here it
States and Allied nations and the insignia f o l l owe d a r o u n d t h e e d g e o f B e l l e a u
of American divisions and higher units Wood, as the crosses do now, and thus
that fought in the Aisne-Mane region. changed direction so as to face approxi-
The walls are inscribed with the names of mately east. The division while serving
American soldiers and marines who are here was with the American I Corps.
car ried on the rolls as missing in the When the great French-American
operations of the vicinity. c o u n t e r o ff e n s i v e a g a i n s t t h e M a r n e
A door in the chapel gives access to a salient started on July 13, the 26th was
circular stairway leading to the tower
from which an excellent view of the sur-
Hunting Lodge in Belleau Wood
rounding country may be obtained.
Climb the chapel stairs and go to the
front window at the upper landing, which
faces approximately north.
The general view of the cemetery ob-
tained from this point is superb.
The direction arrows on the window
ledges should be used to locate the places
mentioned below. The map at the end of
the chapter should also be consulted.
The chapel stands directly over front-
line trenches dug by the 2d Division as
part of the defenses of Belleau Wood after
it was captured on June 25.
The ground in front of here to the foot
of the high ridge, Hill 193, and to the
right as far as the eye can see was cap-

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 53

It is situated near the end of a long ridge


which runs to the right and g radually
increases in height until La Gonétrie
Farm, seen to the front on the top of the
hill, is reached. The near slopes and
wooded areas on that ridge were such as
to afford ideal positions for the German
troops who were defending it.
In the assault of July 18, units of the
26th Division reached the valley on this
side of the ridge but severe f ire from it
and Hill 193 forced them hark to Belleau
Wo o d . I t wa s d u r i n g t h a t a t t a c k t h a t
Private First Class George Dilboy of
the 26th Division won the Congressional
Medal of Honor. After an advance he
26th Division Memorial Church at Belleau was reconnoitering the ground in front
with his platoon leader when a machine
gun suddenly opened f ire on them from
on the right flank of the attack. It 100 yards. From a standing position,
advanced on the f irst day in spite of fully exposed to view, he returned the
terrif ic f ire from Hill 193, which was in f ire at once. He then r ushed forward,
the zone of action of the French division with bayonet f ixed, f alling within 25
on its left, and captured Torcy, seen in yards of the gun with his right leg nearly
the trees to the left front, Belleau just severed and other wounds in his body.
outside the cemetery gate, and Givry, With undaunted courage and gallantr y,
just beyond the church. The Ger mans he continued to f ire from a prone position
on Hill 193 held out against the French killing part of the machine gun crew and
attacks for three days and during this dispersing the rest. Private Dilboy died
time poured a deadly f ire into the Amer- on the f ield of his exploits.
ican troops below them. The precarious On July 20 the division attacked along
and diff icult position of these troops is i t s e n t i r e f r o n t a n d c a p t u r e d, a f t e r
evident from here and too much credit f ierce f ighting, La Gonétrie Farm and
can not be given to the men of the di- the Bois de Bouresches, the wood seen
vision for holding to their gains. to the right of the farm. The ridge
Go to right (east) window of tower. b e t we e n L e s B r u s s e s Fa r m a n d L a
The isolated group of buildings to the Gonétrie Far m was not taken on that
left front is called Les Brusses Far m. day due to heavy machine-gun f ire from
German Prisoners Captured at Belleau Wood
54 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

it and enf ilade fire from the top of Hill 193.


That night the Germans withdrew to
a new line, and on July 21 the division
a d v a n c e d ov e r t h e r i d g e w h i c h h a d
caused them so much trouble and con-
tinued on about 5 miles, meeting for the
most part but little opposition. A
severe two-day struggle then followed
n e a r E p i e d s b e f o r e t h e e n e my a g a i n
withdrew to a new position.
O n J u ly 2 5 t h e 2 6 t h D iv i s i o n wa s
relieved by the 42d Division. During
the 15 days it had served in line on this
front the casualties of the division were
Par of Belleau Wood Soon After Its Capture
approximately 5,000 off icers and men. by the 2d Division
Go to opposite (west) window of tower.
The village to the right front on top of
the ridge is Hautevesnes and to the right July 18, cleaned out the strong German
of it also on the ridge is Courchamps positions in the wood, Buisson de Cresnes,
Elements of the American 4th Division and by nightfall had captured Noroy-sur-
assisted in the capture of both of those Ourcq which was about 2 miles within
places in hitter f ighting on July 18. the hostile lines. (See map on next page.)
The 4th Division, except for its artillery On July 19 the elements of the 4th
and one infantry brigade, was attached Division which were still in line attacked
to the French 164th Division for the July against heavy machine-gun resistance and
18 assault. In addition to the elements extended the gains of the previous day.
which fought at Hautevesnes and Cour- These units were relieved from the battle
champs, other units beyond Hautevesnes during the early mor ning of July 21.
vigorously advanced about 2 miles. The total casualties of the division, whose
Still far ther along the front, about 7 units had eff iciently performed their mis-
miles beyond Hautevesnes, the 7th In- sions during this f ighting, were 2,100.
fantry Brigade of the 4th Division was The center of the front of attack of the
serving with the French 33d Division. American 1st and 2d Divisions in the
Units of it attacked with the French on July 18 counteroffensive was about 14
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 55

miles beyond Courchamps, the attack been in possession of all of Belleau Wood.
being made across the observer’s line of (54.7 m 88.0 km) Turn right at ceme-
vision in the direction from left to right. tery gate and continue straight ahead.
Belleau Wood is the wood close to the (55.1 m 88.7 km) Bouresches, cap-
chapel in rear and on both sides of it. tured by the 2d Division on June 6, is
soon visible to the right front.
EN ROUTE AISNE-MARNE AMERICAN
(55.4 m 89.1 km) When road starts to
CEMETERY TO MONUMENT
ON HILL 204 dip into deep valley, to the left across the
valley is seen a closer view of the Les
Opposite the cemetery gate is seen a Brusses Farm–La Gonétrie Farm ridge
form of marker which has been placed m e n t i o n e d a t t h e l a s t s t o p . T h e G e r-
o n m o s t o f t h e r o a d s o f Fr a n c e a n d mans on part of this ridge held out for
Belgium to indicate the farthest advance three days in spite of the deter mined
of the German Armies in 1918. This one assaults of the 26th Division.
is incorrectly placed, the Germans having (55.8 m 89.8 km) On far side of valley,
Band, 5th Marines, 2d Division the road climbs up a slope stormed by
troops of the 26th Division on July 20.
(57.0 m 91.7 km) After ascending hill,
the f irst buildings seen to the right are
those of La Gonétrie Farm, captured by
the 26th Division as the result of hard
f ighting during July 20.
(57.4 m 92.4 km) Beyond the farm, the
advance of the 26th Division on July 21
was generally from right to left across
this road. Its zone of action extended as
far as the next main road crossing, now
marked by the entrance pylons to the
American monument on Hill 204.
(59.3 m 95.4 km) Cross main highway
and proceed to the site of the monument
Airplane View of East Face of Aisne-Marne American Memorial Near Château-Thierry
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 57

West Face of Aisne-Marne American Cemetery

This impressive memorial was erected


by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s G ove r n m e n t t o
commemorate the American f ighting in
the Aisne-Marne region and the friend-
ship and cooperation of the French and
American forces during the war.
The two sculptured f igures at the cen-
ter of the colonnade are symbolic of
France and the United States. The
names inscribed above the columns are
those of places where important Ameri-
can f ighting occur red. Inside the colon-
nade at the closed ends are marble tablets
upon which appear inscriptions giving a
brief return of all of the American f ight-
ing in this general vicinity.
From the terrace of the monument, a
wonderful view of the Mane River valley
is obtained. On this ter race is located
an orientation table giving distances and
directions to various places and above it
is an ornamental map of the region show-
ing the ground gained by American troops
o n J u ly 1 8 a n d t h e r e a f t e r. A l o n g t h e
walls on each side of the map are carved
the names and wartime insignia of the
cor ps and divisions whose services are
commemorated at this place.
Jean de la Fontaine, who was born in
Château-Thierry, is said to have written
a number of his fables on this hill.
Napoleon, just prior to the battle of

Symbolic Eagle and Ornamental Map


Aisne-Marne Memorial
58 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

M o n t m i r a i l , c a m p e d h i s a my i n t h i s that division arrived late in the evening


neighborhood. The old main highway of May 31, about the time the German
to Paris passed through this spot. troops were entering the northern (left)
The following description of the Ameri- outskirts of Château-Thier ry, and took
can f ighting in this vicinity has been up a position along the south (right as
written to be read while an the main seen from here) bank of the river to defend
terrace of the monument. the crossings in town. Two guns of that
The large town which is seen about a unit were sent to assist French detach-
mile away, located on both sides of the ments f ighting just beyond the château
Marne River, is Château-Thierry. and, though orders for their withdrawal
Face its tall, square church tower, which bad been issued, they were still there when
direction is approximately east. during the night of June 1 the highway
Just beyond and to the left of the bridge was blown up by the French to
church are the tree-covered ruins of the p r eve n t t h e G e r m a n s f r o m c r o s s i n g .
old chateau which gave the town its name. Arriving at the bridge just after it had
D u r i n g t h e c r i t i c a l d ay s o f l a t e M ay been destroyed, the men who had manned
1918, when the German troops were ad- these two machine guns resolutely fought
vancing rapidly in this direction, the their way to the railroad bridge where
American 3d Division was training in an they and their French comrades, after a
area some distance to the southeast of hand-to-hand conflict with German in-
here. As the hostile rush continued and fantry, succeeded in recrossing.
the gravity of the situation became more This machine gun battalion of the 3d
apparent, this division, which had had D iv i s i o n , a s s i s t e d by Fr e n c h t r o o p s ,
no front-line experience, was hurriedly prevented the Ger mans from crossing
moved up and thrown into the line in the river in town and inflicted exception-
scattered detachments near Château- ally heavy losses on them.
T h i e r r y, t o a s s i s t i n p r ev e n t i n g t h e It was due to this spirited defense, to
Germans from crossing the Marne River. the gallant stand of the 2d Division in
The 7th Machine Gun Battalion of the area just visited and to the desperate

Main Bridge at Château-Thierry, Blown Up by French to


Prevent Germans From Crossing
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 59

American Troops in Public Square of Château-Thierry After Its Capture, July 1918

efforts of the French units that the Ger- O n J u ly 1 s m a l l u n i t s o f t h e 1 1 1 t h


man advance on this front was def initely Infantr y, 28th Division, and on July 6
stopped on June 4. The hostile front elements of the 111th and 112th Infan-
line at that time did not cross the Marne tr y Regiments, 28th Division, assisted
River but did include all of this hill. the French in local attacks which gained
O n J u n e 6 a n d 7 t h e Fr e n c h 1 0 t h some ground in front of here. On July 6
Colonial Division with the 30th Infantry the small wood, Bois de Courteau, seen
o f t h e 3 d D iv i s i o n a t t a c h e d, s t a r t i n g directly ahead on this slope, was captured.
about 1 1 / 2 , miles to the right of here, On the night of July 8–9, the Germans
launched two attacks against this hill recaptured that wood in an attack during
and succeeded in gaining a foothold on the course of which four companies of the
top of it. The 4th Infantry, 3d Division, 28th Division became engaged.
later in June, held a front-line position in As a result of the French-American
the wood behind here for a few days. counteroffensive which began on July 18
The 3d Division held the south bank south of Soissons, the Germans withdrew
of the river from Château-Thierry on as from this vicinity during the night of
far as the eye can see during part of June J u ly 2 0 – 2 1 . T h ey we r e i m m e d i a t e ly
and July, the German lines being on the pursued by the troops on this front.
other bank. Its activities until July 15
EN ROUTE MONUMENT ON HILL 204 TO
consisted mainly in preparing its own
NEAR MÉZY
position for defense and in sending an
o c c a s i o n a l p a t r o l a c r o s s t h e r ive r t o (61.0 m 98.1 km) Return to main high-
capture prisoners and attempt to secure way, turn sharply to the right and con-
information concerning the enemy troops. tinue into the town of Château-Thierry.
60 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

great German offensive of the war, which


started on July 15. That part of the 3d
Division in the area seen to the left front
was caught by the full force of the assault
units of the powerful German attack.
(67.6 m 108.8 km) From top of first hill
beyond Fossoy, to the left about 1 / 2 mile
away are seen two farms. The troops of
the 3d Division defending those places on
July 15 fought to the last man. The few
Germans who then advanced beyond this
3d Division Monument at Château-Thier ry road were later either killed or captured
by the American troops.
(63.0 m 101.4 km) Just before reach-
ing the main bridge in Château-Thierry, The area where units of the 28th Division
on the left is a building containing a small assisted the French in stopping the German
advance on July 15 lies about 4 miles south-
museum of war relics, and near it is a
monument erected by the 3d Division. east of the next village, Crézancy. To visit,
(63.1 m 101.5 km) Cross the river. at second street in Crézancy, turn right and
travel via St. Eugène, Monthurel, Celles-les-
From bridge, to the right in the distance
can be seen the monument on Hill 204. Condé to St. Agnan. Consult map on page
(63.6 m 102.3 km) Beyond the viaduct 6.5 before starting. To complete a loop and
to visit the sectors held by units of the 28th
over the railroad, turn to the left.
(65.0 m 104.6 km) Beyond the town, for Division along the Marne continue through
the next few miles the tour r uns near St. Agnan toward Dormans. Upon joining
main highway near Dormans turn left and
the Marne River, which winds its way in
the valley to the left of this road. follow it to Crézancy,. Rejoin the tour there.
(65.2 m 104.9 km) The high ridge seen Length of detour about 18 miles. Amount
of time required—1 hour.
to the left is on the opposite side of the
river. Ger man obser vation posts there (68.7 m 110.5 km) Soon after entering
kept close watch of the American activi- the next town, Crézancy, turn sharply to
the left on the road to Mézy.
ties near this road. All suspicious move-
ments were communicated to Ger man Crézancy was never captured by the
batteries concealed in woods and ravines Germans although the other side of
Surmelin Creek valley, seen to the right,
in rear of the ridge and the places con-
cerned on this side were generally sub- was in their possession for four days, and
jected to immediate shellf ire. during two days f ighting occurred in rear
(south) of the town on the high ground
(67.0 m 107.8 km) Near first sharp left
bend in road is the village of Fossoy. across the creek from it.
This was close to the west flank of the last (69.6 m 112.0 km) At f irst crossroads
beyond the village cemetery, STOP.
Machine Gun, 3d Division, in Position at In this vicinity occurred some of the
Château-Thierry, June 1, 1918 most desperate f ighting of the war.
Face down the road which direction is
approximately north.
Except for Moulins Ridge, seen directly
to the right, all other hills on the horizon
to the front and sides are on the opposite
bank of the Marne River and were in
German hands on July 14.
The German attack of July 15, their
last great offensive, involved a 50-mile
front from near here to beyond Reims.

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 61

In this vicinity the 3d Division held the were captured east of Reims from whom
line of the river from Moulins Ridge to it was lear ned that the long-expected
Château-Thierry, 5 miles away to the left. Ger man offensive would begin shortly
On the evening of July 14, prisoners after midnight. Taking full advantage
62 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

German Anti-Aircraft Shells Exploding Near American Observation Balloon


Stationed in the Valley of Château-Thierry

of this information, at 11:45 p. m. every on the hillside to the left of Mézy, about
gun on this side of the river blazed forth 8:45 a. m. and in spite of heavy casualties
i n a n i n t e n s iv e b o m b a r d m e n t w h i c h a considerable part of it reached the rail-
caused great havoc in front of here in the road and the f ield in front of here, in both
German masses forming up for the attack. of which places large numbers of German
The suppor t trenches and other points soldiers later surrendered.
where Ger man troops would naturally Early in the morning, the Germans suc-
assemble for an assault were so heavily ceeded in advancing over ground held by
shelled that some of their units had to be the French on the far side of Moulins Ridge.
replaced before the attack began. This exposed the right of the American
At 12:10 a. m. on July 15 the German line, and detachments on the ridge had to
artillery opened up, and about 2:00 a. m. withstand several attacks against their
there was a sudden increase of machine- f r o n t a n d f l a n k d u r i n g t h e d ay. T h e
g u n a n d r i f l e f i r e a l o n g t h e r ive r a s f ighting there and near this point was of
the enemy started his attempts to cross the greatest severity, involving repeated
by means of ferries and ponton bridges. attacks and counterattacks until the
One of the six German regiments which units concerned were almost destroyed.
attacked the 3d Division crossed in front On the entire front of attack this side of
of here. It was badly cut up by American Reims, the Germans succeeded in ad-
artillery f ire, and the troops who reached vancing about 4 miles on July 15 at all
the railroad near Mézy, the village seen places except near here where they were
ahead, were counterattacked and forced opposed by American troops. At mid-
back over the river, the remnants reach- night of that day the Ger mans to the
ing the far bank about 5:00 a. m. An- f r o n t a n d l e f t f r o n t we r e r e t r e a t i n g
other regiment which crossed to the left across the Mane while the front line of
of here suffered heavily from ar tillery the 3d Division was about 600 yards
and machine-gun f ire. However, it wiped behind this point in the woods.
out the American troops on the riverbank On the 16th the detachments of the
and advanced about 5:00 a. m. in the face 3d Division still on Moulins Ridge, being
of rifle and machine-gun f ire from Amer- almost cut off from neighboring units,
i c a n s i n t h e wo o d s a b ove t h e m . T h e were withdrawn to a line about 1 mile to
attack was stopped near the edges of the the rear. On that same day the 111th In-
woods to the left rear of here. A third f a n t r y o f t h e 2 8 t h D iv i s i o n r e l i eve d
regiment, after several disastrous at- that part of the 3d Division in rear of
tempts, crossed near Mont St. Pére, seen here and on July 17 that regiment rees-
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 63

tablished its part of the front line along On July 21 a regiment of the 3d Divi-
the riverbank to the left of Mézy. s i o n c r o s s e d t h e r ive r n e a r C h â t e a u -
The Germans made no organized Thierry and occupied Mont St. Pére from
attacks in this vicinity on the 16th, but which place it protected the crossing of
farther to the right their advance con- the remainder of the division.
tinued although slowed up to a large From here to Fismes, about 19 miles
extent by a French counterattack. away, the American divisions advanced
Of the two regiments of the 3d Division along the axis of the Marne salient. The
which were caught by the full force of the ground passed over on the tour is part of
initial German attack, the 38th Infantry that which they restored to France during
on the right was eventually forced to the period July 20 to August 6.
meet assaults from the front and from
EN ROUTE NEAR MÉZY TO NEAR COURMONT
both flanks. In this precarious position
it gallantly fought the storm troops of (70.0 m 112.6 km) To the right of the
t h e e n e my t o a s t a n d s t i l l . T h e 3 0 t h bridge an which this road passes over
Infantry on the left, in a different but no the railway in Mézy, an American de-
less diff icult situation, performed its task tachment held out until late in the after-
with equal determination and bravery, noon of July 15 in spite of all efforts of
and consequently on the front of these the Germans to capture them.
units the Germans gained nothing to com- (70.1 m 112.8 km) Beyond bridge, at
pensate them for their careful prepara- curve in road, in the excavations seen to
tions and heavy losses. The conduct of the left, a small group of Americans held
the American troops in this action gave their position on the f irst day of the offen-
further impetus to the rapidly increasing sive long after the German lines had swept
reputation of the American divisions. beyond them on both their flanks.
By July 17 the German offensive had (70.4 m 113.3 km) Upon approaching
been definitely stopped on the whole front, the river note the open f ields on this side
and the next day the French and Ameri- of it. Reports of German off icers state
cans began their great counteroffensive that their troops suffered heavy losses
south of Soissons. As a result of the on those flats from the accurate rifle f ire
Allied counteroffensive, the German High of the American soldiers.
Command promptly ordered a withdrawal During the night of July 21 and the
from this part of the Aisne-Mane salient, next morning a large part of the 3d Divi-
which began during the night of July 19. sion crossed the river on a temporary
German Anti-Balloon Gun in Action. © G
64 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

along the riverbank while stronger forces


were along the railroad seen beyond it.
The division orders prescribed that the
main line of resistance on the high wooded
ground in rear be held at all costs.
(72.7 m 117.0 km) Just before entering
the next village, Jaulgonne, STOP with-
out leaving car. (See map on next page.)
To the right front, on the other side of
the bridge, the course of the river bends
abruptly, its valley being visible for some
distance extending to the right. Four
companies of the 28th Division, attached
to French units, were stationed along that
Le Charmel Château, Captured by the part of the river when the Army launched
3d Division, July 27, 1918 the July 15 attack. One of them was on
the opposite bank with its nearest flank
bridge built by the division engineers at the bridge, while the other three were
near the site of the present structure. up the valley just beyond the next bend.
(70.8 m 113.9 km) After crossing bridge, The Germans forced a crossing between
at first junction bear to the right. these two groups and also advanced past
(71.2 m 114.6 km) Pass through the their outer flanks for a considerable dis-
village of Chartèves, which was occupied tance, but mere unable to cross the river
by the 3d Division on July 22. in their immediate front. Shortly after
(71.4 m 114.9 km) At far side of village, daybreak, when the full power of the
by looking to the right across the river a Ger man attack developed, the French
view of the American position as seen by fell back without advising the Americans
the attacking German troops on July 15 is or ordering their retirement, thus aban-
obtained. Detachments of Americans doning the four American companies
with machine guns were in the underbrush on the riverbank. Although surrounded,
Ponton Bridge Near Mézy Built by Engineers of
the 3d Division

(64)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 65

these companies main-


tained their positions
until 8:00 a. m., when
they star ted to f ight
t h e i r way b a c k t o r e -
gain the French lines
which had been rees-
tablished, with the help
of other units of the
28th Division, about
3 m i l e s t o t h e r e a r.
T h e s u r v ivo r s r e a c h e d
t h e s e n ew Fr e n c h l i n e s
during the afternoon.
On July 16 and 17
the French units and
t h o s e o f t h e 2 8 t h D iv i -
sion on these new lines
1aunched counterat-
t a c k s wh i c h s u c c e e d e d
i n r e c ove r i n g s o m e
of t h e l o s t g r o u n d .
During July 18 the
elements of the 28th
Division were with-
d r aw n f r o m t h e f r o n t
Line, its losses in this
area from July 1 5 t o
18 having been about
1,200 off icers and men.
Continue.
(73.2 m 117.8 km)
Straight through
Jaulgonne , which was
c a p t u r e d by t h e 3 d
Division on July 22.
(73.7 m 118.6 km)
B eyo n d t ow n , i n t h e
ravine along this road,
a p a r t o f t h e d iv i s i o n
a d va n c e d o n J u ly 2 2 t o t h e f a r e d g e o f to the sudden unsuccessful ending of their
the next village, Le Charmel. Threatened offensive which started early on July 15.
w i t h i s o l a t i o n , t h e s e u n i t s , wh i c h we r e (74.3 m 119.5 km) Some distance far-
t h e n s eve r a l m i l e s a h e a d o f t h e t r o o p s ther on, to the right front up the valley,
o n b o t h s i d e s o f t h e m , w i t h d r ew t o t h e can be seen Le Charmel Château. That
general vicinity of Jaulgonne. chateau, now rebuilt, was the scene of in-
During the next few days bitter strug- tense f ighting, the Ger mans holding it
gles took place near this road as the Ger- against severe attacks until July 27.
man Army fought for time to withdraw (75.1 m 120.8 km) At next main road
the great quantities of supplies and am- junction, keep straight ahead passing
munition which had been brought to this through Le Charmel, which although
front but which had not been used, due stubbornly defended was captured by the
66 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Panorama From Stop

3d Division during daylight hours on The panoramic sketch on these pages will
July 25 after an extremely hard f ight. be of great help in case difficulty occurs in
For the next few miles the American locating the places mentioned below.
advance encountered only slight resist- The Ourcq River lies in the valley to
ance as the main Ger man forces had the right and right front. The far slopes
b e e n w i t h d r aw n t o t h e O u r cq R i v e r of it had been organized by the Germans
during the night of July 26–27. into a formidable position by the time
The operations, described later, of the the American and French troops ar rived
28th and 32d Divisions on the Ourcq here on the evening of July 27 and began
were directed from their division head- the series of attacks which f inally drove
quarters located in Le Charmel. the German troops from it.
(78.1 m 125.7 km) About 3 miles be- This f ighting was of the most severe
yond the town of Le Charmel, Courmont character and although most of the
is seen to the right of the road. American divisions were participating in
(78.5 m 126.3 km) After passing the an offensive for the f irst time the natural
village of Courmont, a few yards before courage and f ighting spirit of the Ameri-
reaching the next main crossroad, STOP. can soldiers car ried them forward to

German Trench-Mortar Bombardment of Allied Strong Point


July 15, 1918. © G
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 67

Panorama From Stop

accomplishments which could not have The nearest village to the front in the
been excelled by veteran assault divisions. O u r c q R ive r va l l e y i s S e rg y. To t h e
From this point many of the attacks right front a road is seen, in the distance,
made against the German defenses were entering a large wooded area.
visible. Long thin lines of khaki-clad Face that point, which direction is
American soldiers could be seen ad- approximately northeast.
vancing up the slopes across the valley, Cour mont, the nearest town seen to
preceded by bursts of smoke as the artil- t h e r i g h t , wa s c a p t u r e d by a Fr e n c h
lery barrage moved forward to prepare d iv i s i o n o n J u ly 2 7 . T h a t n i g h t t h e
t h e way f o r t h e m . H o s t i l e f i r e t o o k 28th Division relieved the French, taking
heavy toll from the attacking units, and over a line the center of which was near
counterattacks launched from the wooded this point and which changed direction
heights often forced the Americans back. so as to run along the far side of Cour-
Such setbacks, however, were but signals mont. The 3d Division had the zone of
for new assaults, which were bravely and action to the right of Courmont.
p e r s i s t e n t ly r e p e a t e d u n t i l a l l o f t h e On July 28 Ronchères, seen on the hill
heights were f inally in American hands. beyond Courmont, was captured by the

German Heavy Machine Gun Unit Advancing Through Captured Village,


July 15, 1918. © G
68 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

3d Division, and the 28th Division ad- stand on the opposite side of this valley.
vanced its lines to the other side of the About a mile from here, on the nearest
Ourcq River all along its front. During hill seen tot he left of and beyond Cour-
the f ighting that day the German resis- mont, is the Bois des Grimpettes, a key
tance was such that it became evident point of the German position. Although
t h ey i n t e n d e d t o m a k e a d e t e r m i n e d in the zone of action of the 3d and later
of the 32d Division, it commanded the
28th Division front to such an extent that
it had to be captured before any appre-
ciable advance could be made. On both
July 28 and 29 it was attacked, but not
captured, by the 3d Division from near
Ronchères and by the 28th Division from
its position in front of here.
On the night of July 29 the 3d Division
was relieved by the 32d, after having
been in line since early June and having
made an outstanding record in combat.
Its casualties were nearly 6,600.
On July 30, as the result of two attacks
supported by brief but intense artillery
preparations, the 28th Division succeeded
in taking the Bois des Grimpettes in the
afternoon, after a savage hand-to-hand 42d Division Artillery Passing Through Sergy,
f ight in which it was assisted by the 32d August 3, 1918
Division. It also occupied for a short
was f inally taken and held by the 32d
time part of the village of Cierges, whose
church tower, which looks like a small Division as the result of two separate
house from here, can be seen to the right regimental assaults, made about the same
time, which converged close to the point
of and below the point the observer is
f a c i n g . A G e r m a n c o u n t e r a t t a c k wa s which the observer is now facing.
repulsed about dark of that day. Sergy, in the valley to the left front,
and Seringes-et-Nesles seen well to the
During the night of July 30–31 the 32d
D iv i s i o n r e l i eve d t h e 2 8 t h D iv i s i o n , left of it, are both located beyond the
whose casualties had totaled more than Ourcq. Villers-sur-Fère in the distance
to the observer’s left, is on this side of the
1,400 officers and men , thus extending its
front to the left as far as Caranda Mill, river. These towns were captured by the
the building partially seen in the small 42d Division in operations which will be
described at the next stop.
clump of trees at the foot of this hill about
midway between Cierges and Sergy. To the left front in the distance, the
The wood which covers the crest of the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, which is
distinguished by its f ield of white head-
ridge to the right of and beyond Caranda
Mill is Les Jomblets. It lay in the Ger- stones, is seen slightly to the right of and
man main line of defense and was an im- below the village of Seringes-et-Nesles.
portant strong point. On July 31 the 32d Street Barricade at Northern Edge of
Division, in an attack launched about Le Charmel, July 1918
2:00 p. m., captured Cierges and reached Built by the Germans in their retreat
Les Jomblets, but was forced by heavy
hostile f ire to fall back from that wood.
On the next day, in an attack made in the
e a r ly m o r n i n g , t h e d iv i s i o n c a p t u r e d
Les Jomblets and established itself about
1/2 m i l e f a r t h e r o n . T h e r e t h e t r o o p s
repulsed a counterattack made shortly
after daybreak. About 9:00 a. m., how-
ever, they were driven back by a f ierce
G e r m a n c o u n t e r a t t a c k s u p p o r t e d by
artiller y. That afternoon Les Jomblets

(69)
Snipers Firing in Villers-sur-Fère After Its Capture by the 42d Division, July 27, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 71

The route now follows closely the south led a platoon in an attack which resulted
bank of the Ourcq River and a better in the capture of that wood, and although
view of many of the places just mentioned again hit several times during the assault,
will be obtained. The natural strength he broke up a hostile counterattack
of the German positions across the river mainly by his own accurate automatic
will also be more evident at that time. rifle f ire. He remained in charge until
the position had been made secure, after
EN ROUTE NEAR COURMONT TO NEAR
which, suffering from nine wounds in
VILLERS-SUR-FÈRE
various par ts of the body, this gallant
(79.5 m 127.9 km) While ascending soldier dragged himself to shelter.
the next ridge, Cierges is seen to the (81.8 m 131.6 km) Just before reach-
right, about a mile away. ing the next town, Villers-sur-Fère ,
(80.4 m 129.4 km) The next village about 100 yards from top of hill, where a
seen to the right is Ser py. That town clear view to right is obtained, STOP.

German Dressing Station Near Château de la Forét


Being Used by Americans Soon After Its Capture

and the steep slopes on both sides of The village of Seringes-et-Nesles and
i t we r e s t u b b o r n l y d e f e n d e d by t h e the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery to the
German troops who were holding them. right of it are seen across the valley.
(80.9 m 130.2 km) A short distance far- Face the cemetery, which direction is
ther on, to the right on the hillside across approximately northeast.
the valley, is seen a small triangular- The Ourcq River is located in the valley
shaped wood where Private Sidney E. at the foot of this slope.
Manning, 42d Division, performed the The 42d Division captured Villers-sur-
d e e d s o n J u ly 2 8 f o r w h i c h h e wa s Fère on the 27th and continued its at-
awa r d e d t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l M e d a l o f tacks on the 28th gaining a foothold on
H o n o r. P r i v a t e M a n n i n g , wh o h a d the other side of the Ourcq. Sergy, seen
been severely wounded shortly before, to the right, which was strongly held by
72 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

42d Division Infantry in Position Near Seringes-et-Nesles, July 29, 1918

the Germans, was entered by patrols that Bois Colas, which was literally bristling
day but not captured although g round with hostile machine guns, and the town
was gained in its immediate vicinity. of Seringes-et-Nesles were captured on
Across the river in front of here an that day in brilliant attacks. Although
unusual exploit was performed on July 28 the gains at Seringes-et-Nesles and Sergy
by Sergeant Frank Gardella, Jr., of the formed pronounced salients in the line
42d Division. Two enemy air planes were and the troops in them were subjected to
flying parallel to the American infantry tire from three sides, the Germans were
lines and pouring machine-gun bullets unable to retake that ground.
into them, driving ever yone to cover. On July 30 the attacks were continued
Sergeant Gardella, noting the situation, but in spite of determined efforts no sub-
rushed to his machine gun and took aim s t a n t i a l g a i n s we r e m a d e . A s t r o n g
at the upper of the two machines. Al- German counterattack near Meurcy Farm,
though he was constantly subject to a identif ied by the buildings seen to the
storm of bullets from the plants and from r i g h t o f t h e c e m e t e r y, wa s r e p u l s e d .
enemy snipers on the ground, he never- In the bitter f ighting around that farm,
theless coolly sighted his gun and riddled Sergeant Richard W. O’Neill, 42d Divi-
the upper plane, causing it to collapse and sion, advanced ahead of the assaulting
fall in flames. In falling it str uck the line and attacked an enemy force of about
lower plane and brought it to the earth 25 mm. In the ensuing hand-to-hand
also. For his coolness and bravery he was encounter he sustained pistol wounds but
awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. heroically continued in the f ight, during
Part of the 47th Infantry, 4th Division, which he received additional wounds.
was attached to the 42d Division and, With great physical effort he remained in
with this additional strength, Sergy was active commend of his detachment until
captured on July 29 and other advances he was again wounded and was forced by
m a d e . I n t h e va l l ey t o t h e f r o n t , t h e weakness and loss of blood to be evacu-
nearest wood in line with the cemetery, ated. He insisted upon being taken f irst
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 73

to the battalion commander in order to many hostile machine-gun nests cleverly


transmit to him valuable information rela- placed in mutually supporting positions
tive to the enemy positions and the dis- throughout the entire area between the
position of his men. For his conspicuous Ourcq and the Vesle Rivers.
bravery above and beyond the call of duty T h e 4 2 d D iv i s i o n o n A u g u s t 2 a d -
Sergeant O’Neill was later awarded the vanced over the g round on which the
Congressional Medal of Honor. cemeter y stands and through the Forêt
On July 31, after a wr y heavy bom- de Nesles, the large wood seen beyond
bardment in which smoke and thermite the cemetery. On August 3 the division,
shells were used, the tiny Bois Brulé, having suffered nearly 6,500 casualties,
which covered the ground near this end was relieved by the 4th Division which,
of the cemetery, was abandoned by the together with the 32d Division on its
Germans and the 42d Division occupied right, continued to push forward until the
i t a n d M e u r c y Fa r m , t h u s f o r m i n g Vesle River was reached.
another salient in the German lines. By
EN ROUTE NEAR VILLERS-SUR-FÈRE TO
the evening of August 1 the 42d and
OISE-AISNE AMERICAN CEMETERY
32d Divisions were in secure possession
of a large portion of the high ground on (82.6 m 132.9 km) Cross Ourcq River.
the other side of the river, from Seringes- Note its extremely small size.
et-Nesles to beyond Les Jomblets. (83.0 m 133.5 km) Turn sharply to
These successes, and those of the the right on the f irst street in the next
French far ther to the left, caused the town, Fère-en-Tardenois,
Germans to withdraw during the night The American I Cor ps Headquar ters
of August 1–2 to their next prepared was located here from August 5 to 13
position at the Vale River, 10 miles in after the Germans had been driven back
front of here. The pursuit, which was from their position near the Ourcq.
begun by the Americans and French on (84.3 m 135.6 km) Beyond town, at
the morning of August 2, had to overcome the large cemetery near the road, STOP.

German Ammunition Train Destroyed by American Shellfire at Cierges


Oise-Aisne American Cemetery Near Fère-en-Tardenois
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 75

This is the Oise-Aisne American Cem- rear ranging themselves into a succession
etery, the second largest American mili- of symmetrical geometrical designs.
tary cemetery in Europe. It contains The chapel is a harmony of color, with
6,012 graves. The majority of the battle its pink and g ray sandstone walls and
dead who rest here were killed in the variegated marble columns. It is semi-
f ighting along the Ourcq River and in the circular in form and from its terrace a
t e r r i t o r y b e t we e n h e r e a n d t h e O i s e f ine view of the cemetery and the sur-
River. In 1922, American soldiers then rounding country can be obtained.
buried in France in the general area west The decorative sculpture of the chapel
of the line, Tours–Romorantin–Paris– is Romanesque in style but modern in
Le Havre were moved to this cemetery. s u b j e c t . O n e a c h f r o n t wa l l a p p e a r s

Oise-Aisne Cemetery Chapel


Note the Exterior altar in the foreground

The building across the road contains a the coat of ar ms of the United States,
reception room for visitors and the off ice beneath a frieze of shields which display
of the superintendent, where inquiries for the insignia of branches of the Ar my.
information or concerning the location of The column capitals are carved with the
a particular grave should be made. insignia of the American divisions which
The cemeter y is entered through an took part in the battles in this region and
ornamental wrought-iron gateway. Rows with various military weapons and articles
of trees and beds of red roses line the of equipment. In the four medallions
central paths. The chapel overlooks the above the columns the modern soldier is
cemetery from the rear and as the visitor contrasted with the medieval crusader.
walks toward it the f ields of white marble The simple lines of the interior are
headstones constantly change patter n, softened by the subdued light from the
the crosses apparently ar ranging and windows whose panes are thin slabs of
76 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Joyce Kilmer, the poet, was killed in


the f ighting near here and now rests in
this cemetery with so many other of his
brave friends and comrades.
As the inscription which is seen above
the columns of the chapel states:
“THESE ENDURED ALL AND GAVE ALL
THAT HONOR AND JUSTICE MIGHT PREVAIL, AND
THAT THE WORLD MlGHT ENJOY FREEDOM AND
INHERIT PEACE.”

EN ROUTE OISE-AISNE AMERICAN CEME-


TERY TO NEAR FISMES
(85.5 m 137.6 km) The next village,
Nesles, was taken by the 42d Division on
August 2. Near it can be seen the ruins
of a 13th Century château.
( 8 6 . 0 m 1 3 8 . 4 k m ) B eyo n d N e s l e s ,
about 1 / 2 mile, the zone of action of the
32d Division is entered.
D u r i n g a n a e r i a l c o m b a t o n J u ly 1 4 ,
First Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, son
of ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, was
shot down near Chamer y. The Ger mans
buried him where he fell, and marked his
g rave with the wheels of his plane and
a rough cross bearing the inscription
“ROOSEVELT, AMERICAN AVIATOR”. On
Field Artillery During a Lull Between 4th Division Troops on Way to Front,
Engagements, July 1918 Seringes-et-Nesles, August 4, 1918

Algerian onyx. The chapel contains a


beautiful altar of carved stone, and upon
the walls appear in car ved and gilded
letters the names of American soldiers
who fought in this region and who sleep
in unknown graves. The museum room
across the terrace from the chapel proper
contains flags of the United States and
France and a beautifully carved and dec-
orated wall map, upon which are shown
the area in this region captured by the
different American divisions.
While visiting the cemetery it is only
with effort that the visitor can bring his
imagination to picture the scenes of bitter
combat which took place on these slopes
when the 42d Division was f ighting for
them, and on the various other battle-
f ields of the Ourcq River valley which
were fought over by soldiers of the Ameri-
can 3d, 4th, 28th, 32d and 42d Divisions.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 77

D r aveg ny wa s c a p t u r e d by t h e 3 2 d
Division an August 2. The front line
of the division on that night was estab-
lished in the north edge of the town.
T h e 2 8 t h D iv i s i o n h e a d q u a r t e r s d i -
rected operations from this village during
the period August 4–14, while the division
was f ighting along the Vesle.
(91.7 m 147.5 km) Beyond the next
hill, the town seen in front across the
va l l ey i s C h é r y - C h a r t r e u ve . T h e 4 t h
Division, after relieving the 42d Division
during the early morning, advanced on
August 3 to the wood seen just to the
right of and beyond that town.
(93.7 m 150.8 km) At small monument
near entrance to Chéry-Char treuve
turn right. Note speedometer reading.
(97.3 m 156.6 km) 3.6 miles farther on,
when the large town, Fismes, comes in
full view to the right front, STOP.
Camouflaged Road Just North of Dravegny Face the church, the right one of the
Road followed by tour
Observation Balloon Trucks Passing Through
August 2 the grave was found by advanc- Coulonges, August 4, 1918
ing troops of the 32d Division, who held
appropriate ser vices and built a fence
protecting the spot. Since that time it
has been more permanently marked.
To visit grave, turn right at crossroad
indicated in next paragraph. At next vil-
lage, Chamery, take first road to the left
(impossible in wet weather) and go 800
yards to grove, which is 100 yards to left
of road. Total length of side trip—2 miles.
Amount of time required—30 minutes.
(88.2 m 141.9 km) At next main cross-
road at foot of long slope, turn left toward
the village of Coulonges.
(88.6 m 142.6 km) In next village .
Coulonges, beyond bridge turn left.
This village and the next one, Cohan,
were captured on August 2 by the 32d
D iv i s i o n . T h e r i g h t b o u n d a r y o f t h e
division was just to the right of the road
which the tour is following.
(89.6 m 144.2 km) Continue through
the town of Cohan.
(90.9 m 146.3 km) In the next village,
Dravegny, at the church turn to the
left, at the next corner turn to the right
toward the village of Chéry-Chartreuve.
78 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Panorama From Stop Near Fismes

two buildings with a tower, which direc- Division relieved the 32d Division, which
tion is approximately northeast. had advanced 11 miles and whose casual-
The stream at the foot of this hill is ties had been almost 3,800 since entering
the Ardre River, which joins the Vesle the battle on the Ourcq River.
River at a point to the left front in the T h e 2 8 t h D iv i s i o n o n A u g u s t 7
valley. The German troops fought stub- launched an unsuccessful attack upon
bor nly to hold Fismes and the slopes Fi s m e t t e , wh i c h i s b eyo n d t h e Ve s l e
which are seen beyond it. River, adjoining Fismes on its left side.
On the afternoon of August 4 the 32d T h e n ex t d ay, a f t e r t wo a t t a c k s w i t h
Division attacked Fismes from this hill, h e av y a r t i l l e r y p r e p a r a t i o n , p a r t s o f
suffering severe losses from hostile artil- Fismette was captured and held. The
lery and machine-gun f ire before the town town was completely occupied on August
was f inally captured. 10, but because of the German efforts to
On August 6, the 6th Brigade of the 3d retake it, desperate f ighting took place
Division was placed in the line to the in the streets of the town almost daily
right of Fismes. Although worn out by during the next two weeks.
its heavy f ighting on the Mane River, In the f ighting in Fismette on August
the brigade on August 7 and 10 made 10 Sergeant James I. Mestrovitch, 28th
valiant efforts to cross the river but did Division, performed the act of gallantry
not succeed in establishing a foothold on for which he was awarded the Congres-
the far bank. On August II the brigade sional Medal of Honor. Seeing his com-
was relieved, its losses in this general vi- pany commander lying wounded 30 yards
cinity being about 600 off icers and men. in front of the line after his company had
On the night of August 6–7 the 28th withdrawn to a sheltered position behind
a stone wall, Sergeant Mestrovitch volun-
Ruins of City Hall of Fismes, August 14, 1918 tarily left cover and crawled through
heavy machine-gun and shell f ire to where
the off icer lay. He took the off icer upon
his back and crawled back to a place of
safety where he administered f irst aid
treatment. His exceptional heroism
saved the life of his company commander.
D u r i n g t h e e a r ly m o r n i n g h o u r s o f
August 27, the Germans inclosed Fismette
in a heavy bar rage and attacked in force
with flame throwers, capturing or killing
all Americans holding it except a few
who escaped by swimming across the river.
On August 12 the 77th Division re-
lieved the 4th to the left of here and on
the 13th changes were made in the divi-
sion boundaries so that the 28th Division
held Fismes and the riverbank for about
2 1 / 2 miles to the right of it, while the 77th
Division held the line along the river
from Fismes to the left for about 3 miles.
The American III Corps directed active
operations for the f irst time on this front,
holding a sector immediately alongside
that of the American I Corps.
On the night of September 3–4, as a Engineers Exploding Mine Trap Left by
Germans in a Dugout Near Blanzy-
result of the Oise-Aisne offensive, which les-Fismes, September 5, 1918
began north of Soissons on August 18, the
German lines here were turned and the
enemy troops along this front withdrew until September 16, when it was relieved
toward the Aisne River. This movement by an Italian division (of which there were
was covered by rear guards composed two ser ving on the Western Front), its
mainly of machine gun organizations. line remained approximately in the same
O n S e p t e m b e r 4 t h e d iv i s i o n s h e r e place. A brief description of its service
started in pursuit, and by September 6 on the Aisne is given at the next stop.
the 28th had pushed its front line about a In these operations the casualties of the
mile north of Baslieux, partially seen in 28th Division were about 5,300 and those
the little valley 3 miles away beyond the of the 77th Division nearly 4,800. By
church in Fismes. There the division their repeated efforts to cross the river
again faced a prepared German position and by their energetic pursuit after the
and had severe f ighting in front of it G e r m a n s h a d r e t i r e d, b o t h d iv i s i o n s
until relieved on the night of September brought great credit upon themselves and
7–8 by one of the French divisions. upon the American forces.
The 77th Division was stopped on Sep- The State of Pennsylvania has built a
tember 6, south of the Aisne River, after memorial bridge over the Vesle between
an advance of 5 miles. From that day Fismes and Fismette. To visit it, bear
Fismette, Scene of Hard Fighting by the 28th Division

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80 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

right at road junction indicated in the next left front of here and also near Bazoches,
paragraph, go to open plaza in town, turn seen in the valley to the right, but they
left and cross railroad to bridge. Total were later withdrawn to the far bank.
length of side trip—1 mile. Amount of On August 6 the division attacked in
time required—15 minutes. force, after a 1-hour artillery preparation,
with this road as its main objective. It
EN ROUTE NEAR FISMES TO NEAR
forced a crossing opposite Ville-Savoye
BAZOCHES
and reached this highway about 1 / 2 mile to
(98.2 m 158.0 km) At the near edge of the left of here. The line was maintained
Fismes, beyond the small bridge turn there, in spite of strong counterattacks,
sharply to the left toward Soissons. until August 8, when it was withdrawn
The American advance passed from the to the railroad which runs in the valley
left to right across this road. near this side of the river.
(98.8 m 159.0 km) After crossing the From August 7 to 9, the 4th Division
Vesle River and the railroad, a densely launched several attacks near Bazoches.
wooded area is seen on Hostile f ire preventing
the left. Par t of it the building of suitable
surrounds a château f o o t b r i d g e s , m a ny o f
c a l l e d, o n w a r t i m e the men courageously
maps, the Château du attempted to swim the
Diable (Castle of the river or crawl over on
D ev i l ) . Tr o o p s o f t h e fallen trees. Those
4th, 28th and 77th w h o s u c c e e d e d we r e
Divisions, who engaged insuff icient in number
in many hot f ights with to establish themselves
the Ger mans near this on this bank. Between
château, agree that the August 3 and 12, when
place was well named. it was relieved by the
(99.4 m 160.0 km) 77th Division, the 4th
Beyond the far end of Division lost approxi-
the wooded area a 4th mately 3,500 men.
Division monument is Fo r t h e n e x t t e n
passed on the right. d ay s t h i s s e c t o r, l i k e
(100.3 m 161.4 km) others along the front
A t t h e s e c o n d c re s t , where troops of neither
when the next village is 4th Division Monument s i d e we r e t r y i n g t o
plainly seen down the Near Bazoches advance, was compara-
road ahead, STOP. t ive ly q u i e t ex c e p t a t
Fa c e t o t h e l e f t , night. During the
which direction is approximately south. daytime all troops remained well con-
From this point a good view is obtained cealed to escape the vigilance of snipers
of the ground fought over by the 4th and and hostile observers searching for
later by the 77th Division. favorable artiller y targets. After night-
The 4th Division, advancing in this fall, however, the hillside swarmed with
direction over the line of hills in front of men busily strengthening the positions,
here, on August 4 captured St. Thibaut, wh i l e p a t r o l s f r o m e a c h s i d e , t r y i n g
seen on the hillside to the right front, and to discover the dispositions and inten-
Ville-Savoye, seen to the left front. The tions of the other, frequently clashed
next day the division repulsed a counter- along the banks of the river and engaged
attack and began attacks to gain a foot- in small but desperate battles in the dark.
h o l d o n t h i s s i d e o f t h e r ive r. S m a l l O n A u g u s t 2 2 t h e G e r m a n s a t t a c ke d
detachments succeeded in crossing to the t h e C h â t e a u d u D i a bl e , l o c a t e d t o t h e
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 81

l e f t i n t h e t r e e s , a n d d r ove t h e 7 7 t h lead his company in making a hazardous


Division troops holding it across the river. attack on a commanding trench position
Early the next morning, the 77th counter- near the Aisne Canal, which other troops
attacked and in desperate f ighting lasting had previously attempted to take with-
into the night regained part of the wood. out success. His company immediately
Bazoches was the objective of a care- met with intense machine-gun f ire, against
fully prepared assault by the 77th Division which it had no artillery assistance, but
launched early on August 27. The Châ- Captain Miles preceded the f irst wave and
teau du Diable was also attacked and in assisted in cutting a passage through the
each case the objectives f ixed for the day enemy wire entanglements. In so doing
were reached after severe combats, but he was wounded f ive times by machine-
in the end could not be retained. gun bullets, both legs and one arm being
Two G e r m a n a t t a c k s we r e r e p u l s e d fractured, whereupon he ordered himself
during the night of September 1–2. On placed on a stretcher and had himself
September 4 the division crossed the car ried forward to the enemy trench in
river, occupied Bazoches, and advanced order that he might encourage and direct

Street in Soissons, September, 1918

in pursuit of the Germans who bad with- his company, which by this time had suf-
drawn during the previous night. The fered numerous casualties. Under his in-
division reached the Aisne River valley spiration the men held the hostile position
on September 6 and established its front and consolidated their front line after an
line close to this side of it. action lasting two hours. This gallant
The next few days were marked by fre- officer was then carried against his will to
quent local actions bitterly fought but a f irst-aid station for treatment.
with only minor results. On September On September 15, after repulsing a Ger-
14 the division attacked as par t of a man counterattack, the division was re-
general assault and made some gains lieved from the line and was sent to the
in spite of stubborn resistance. Meuse-Argonne region to take part there
It was during the f ighting of this day in the g reat offensive of the American
that Captain L. Wardlaw Miles, 77th First Army later in the month.
Division, performed the heroic services The tour now follows the Vale River
for which he was awarded the Congres- valley as far as near Sermoise and then
sional Medal of Honor. He volunteered to continues along the Aisne River valley to
82 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Soissons. No American f ighting took place in the town of Laon, about 19 miles away.
in the area which will be passed over. (116.5 m 187.4 km) Upon reaching the
large monument in Soissons, continue
EN ROUTE NEAR BAZ0CHES TO NEAR
straight ahead toward church for one
MISSY-AUS-BOIS
block. Bear left onto Rue Carnot and
In its long and eventful history Soissons take second street to right. Continue to
has been destroyed and rebuilt many railroad, then turn sharp left across the
times, and no less than 32 sieges and tracks toward Villers-Cotterêts.
m a j o r b a t t l e s h ave o c c u r r e d t h e r e o r (120.1 m 193.2 km) After leaving the
i n t h e immediate vicinity. Among the valley, the large cemetery passed contains
points of interest in town are the cathedral French, British and German graves.
and the church of St. Jean-des-Vignes. (121.2 m 195.0 km) Beyond cemetery
The American battlefields at Juvigny and 1.1 miles, Missy-aux-Bois is seen to the
near Vauxaillon may be reached by follow- right front. When the village is in full
ing the main highway from Soissons to St. view, on top of the next rise in the road
Quentin. See pages 91–93. (beyond the kilometer post), STOP.
An American 14-inch naval gun on a Face Missy-aux-Bois, which direction
railroad mount, manned by men of the is approximately west.
United States Navy, f ired from a position The reader is now on ground swept over
in St. Christophe Cemetery, 1/2 mile west by the main attack of the French-Ameri-
of Soissons, from September 10 to October can counteroffensive of July 18 which
24. Its target was the railroad junction marked the turning point in the succession
Advance Command Post and Aid Station, 1st Division,
Near Missy-aux-Bois, July 20, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 83

of dramatic military events that so closely rifle pits and nests of machine guns, while
followed each other in the year 1918. Up along the f arm roads and ravines and
to the time of this attack, the Allies had hidden by banks of ear th and the tall
been compelled to withstand a series of grain, were batteries of German artillery.
powerful German offensives which almost The farm buildings and villages, largely
g a i n e d a d e c i s ive v i c t o r y. I t wa s i n of stone construction, afforded admirable
this region that the tide def initely turned protection, and each constituted a strong
in favor of the Allies, and this battle was point which could be taken only after
the f irst of a series of offensives, the most desperate f ighting.
made possible by the rapid ar rival of The 1st Division attacked toward this
American troops, which, within less than road from a line about 3 miles in front of
four months, forced the enemy troops here, this point being near the center of
back and compelled Germany to sue for its zone of action. The zone of action of
an immediate armistice. the French 1st Moroccan Division, one
It is diff icult to imagine this peaceful regiment of which was the famous Foreign
countryside as the scene of such a bitter Legion, included Cravancon Farm, the
struggle. The f ields were covered with group of buildings a mile down the road
wheat, breast high, ready for har vest. to the left, and the zone of action of the
The Germans had dug here no elaborate 2d Division (to be visited later) lay be-
system of trenches, but every little rise yond. These three divisions formed the
in the ground had its group of individual spearhead of the attack which started at
84 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

4:35 a. m. on July 18. This assault was Fr e n c h d iv i s i o n . D u r i n g t h e a t t a c k ,


made without artillery preparation but hostile f ire from there held up the ad-
behind a rolling barrage, and quickly over- vance of part of the 1st Division, where-
ran the forward German positions. upon a support battalion of the division,
A b o u t 7 : 0 0 a . m . t h e 1 s t D iv i s i o n attacking in conjunction with the French,
reached Missy-aux-Bois and the far edge captured the place in a hard f ight. St.
of Missy Ravine, which extends to the Amand Farm, seen on the hill above Le
right from that village. By that time Mont d’Arly, had been previously cap-
the resistance had greatly stiffened, and tured by the 1st Division although also
Missy-am-Bois and the ravine itself were situated in the French zone of action.
f u l l o f e n e my t r o o p s . T h e a s s a u l t i n g After the leading troops of the 1st
units at once pushed on into the ravine D iv i s i o n h a d r e a c h e d t h i s s i d e o f t h e
in the face of point-blank f ire from many va l l ey, a l a rg e h o s t i l e f o r c e c a m e o u t
batteries of Ger man ar tiller y located of a cave on the far slope near Le Mont
t h e r e i n . T h e s e g u n s , wh o s e r e m ova l d ’A r ly a n d f o r m e d u p t o a t t a c k t h e

Infantry of 1st Division Near Berzy-le-Sec, July 21, 1918

had been prevented by the rapidity of A m e r i c a n t r o o p s in rear. This force,


t h e A m e r i c a n a d v a n c e , d e s t r oy e d a however, was driven back into the cave
m a j o r i t y o f t h e t a n k s wh i c h a c c o m - by a n A m e r i c a n s u p p o r t u n i t . A f t e r
panied the brigade of the 1st Division futile attempts to bomb this German
on that flank. However, after a ter rif ic f o r c e o u t o f i t s c ave , l a t e i n t h e a f t e r-
struggle the Germans in the ravine were n o o n an off icer appeared at the mouth of
killed or taken prisoner, and the guns it waving a white flag and sur rendered
emplaced in it were captured. his entire command, consisting of approxi-
The little group of buildings called Le mately 600 off icers and men.
Mont d’Arly, seen 1 1/2 miles to the right While the advance to Missy Ravine
front in the trees below the edge of the was being made, other troops of the 1st
ravine, was in the zone of action of a Division captured Cravançon Farm, and
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 85

the artillery placed a heavy barrage upon


the German positions along this highway
and on Hill 166, which slopes up to the
left rear from this point. When the
barrage moved forward at 7:53 a. m., the
infantry continued the attack, meeting
desperate resistance. To the left of here,
the far slope of Hill 166 was reached and
held. Soon thereafter the troops which
1st Division Artillery Changing Position
a d va n c e d f r o m M i s s y R av i n e t owa r d
Near Missy-aux-Bois, July 19, 1918
this locality encountered heavy f ire from
the top of the hill and from points to the slopes of Hill 166, seen to the right front,
observer’s right along this road. A few and captured the top of it. Those at-
Americans reached the highway near tacking to the left of this point reached
here, but not in suff icient numbers to this road where they were stopped by a
hold the gains they had made. withering f ire from the front and left
The 1st Division captured most of its flank. All tanks which accompanied the
objectives by 10:00 a. m. and spent the assault units were disabled. The troops
a f t e r n o o n i n p r e p a r i n g t o r e n ew t h e attacking from the right of the division
attack. Fresh troops were brought up, line which was to the right front from
the ar tillery moved forward, telephone here, made an advance of about 1/2 mile
lines were strung and food and ammuni- in spite of intense opposition.
tion distributed. The enemy during this At 5:30 in the afternoon, that par t of
period became increasingly vigilant and the 1st Division near here attacked in
every movement in the American lines conjunction with the French. It started
promptly drew machine-gun f ire. from this road, advanced over the f ields
The division front line that night seen ahead, which were being swept by
was established along the near edge of severe hostile machine-gun f ire, and cap-
M i s s y R av i n e . I t c r o s s e d t h i s r o a d tured the town of Ploisy, about 1 mile
about 300 yards to the left of here and from here just to the right of the direction
continued on from there, in the direction the observer is facing. Against obstinate
of the observer’s left rear, for about one resistance the troops on the right of the
mile to where it joined with the French. division advanced that par t of its line
Face to the rear. another 5 mile during the afternoon.
After the loss of their original position The next day the attacks of the 1st
and most of the artillery in it on July 18, Division were continued. In addition
the Germans rushed every available re- to terrif ic machine-gun and artillery f ire,
serve to this area. An enormous number many hostile airplanes flew low over the
of machine guns were set up in front of area, machine-gunning and bombing the
here; new artillery was placed on the hills troops, as the Germans frantically tried
bordering the Soissons-Château-Thierry to stop the American advance. In spite
road, 3 miles away; and the troops were Captured German Field Gun
told to hold the ground then occupied Near Missy-aux-Bois
regardless of cost. Machine guns were
ordered to be sacrif iced, if necessary, but
were not to be withdrawn.
About 4:00 a. m. on July 19 the 1st
Division, supported by tanks, attacked
all along its front behind a rolling barrage.
The troops who jumped off from Missy
Ravine advanced, in the face of devastat-
ing machine-gun f ire, up the bare exposed

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German Prisoners Being Marched to the Rear, South of Soissons, July 18, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 87

of this the right part of the division front


line was advanced an additional 1/2 mile
to the other side of the main railroad
leading south from Soissons.
On the 21st the f ighting continued
with much fury. Berzy-le-Sec was cap-
t u r e d t h a t d ay, t h e d iv i s i o n r e a c h i n g
Buzancy, beyond the Soissons- Château-
Thierry highway, thereby cutting the most
important road of the German communi-
cation system within the salient. French Tank With American Forces South of
The 1st Division, after its remarkable Soissons, July 18, 1918
demonstration of f ighting ability in this
was launched from the direction opposite
attack, was relieved from the line on the
night of July 22–23. The casualties of the to the one the tourist is now traveling.
division, an indication of its exceptional (124.2 m 199.8 km) The next large
group of buildings, La Mason-Neuve
services during the f ive days of f ighting
here, reached the total of 6,870 off i- Farm, was in the zone of action of the
cers and men. Three fourths of all the Moroccans but was captured on July 18
by troops of the 2d Division.
infantry f ield off icers of the division were
either killed or wounded and one regiment (125.0 m 201.1 km) About 3/4 mile be-
was at the end commanded by a captain yond La Mason-Neuve Farm, where a
good view is obtained of the group of
of less than two years’ service.
buildings directly ahead, STOP.
EN ROUTE NEAR MISSY-AUX-BOIS TO Face down the road, which direction is
NEAR BEAUREPAIRE FARM approximately southwest.
(122.4 m 196.9 km) Just beyond the After some of its units had marched all
next group of buildings, Cravançon Farm, night and double-timed over muddy roads
turn sharply to the left. in a driving rain in order to jump off at
The right boundary of the 1st Division t h e t i m e d e s i g n a t e d, t h e 2 d D iv i s i o n
during the advance was 200 yards to the attacked at 4:35 a. m., July 18, in this
left of and parallel to this road. general direction from a line about 2 miles
(123.3 m 198.4 km) Immediately after to the right front. The initial attack was
entering the next village, Chaudun, turn made without the machine gun compa-
sharply to the right. nies, as they had been unable to reach
This town, although in the zone of ac- the line of departure in time to partici-
tion of the Moroccan division, was cap- pate, and without the full support of the
tured on .July 18 in an attack in which the tanks, which were late in arriving.
2 d D iv i s i o n p a r t i c i p a t e d . T h e a t t a c k A b o u t 5 : 4 5 a . m . t h e Fr e n c h t a n k s
which had caught up with the front line
Large Cave South of Soissons circled around La Ver te-Feuille Farm,
Many similar caves are in this vicinity
par tially visible through the trees to the
right front, while troops of the Marine
Brigade charged out of the woods seen
beyond it and overpowered the German
garrison after a shar p encounter.
Beaurepaire Farm, which the Germans
had converted into a veritable fortress,
is seen straight down the road. It was
near the center of the 2d Division zone of
action and was captured early on the
morning of July 18 by the Infantry Brigade

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88 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Panorama From Stop

of the division. At least 100 prisoners Across the open f ield to the left, on the
were captured in or near the farm. low ground a mile away, is Vauxcastille,
Batteries of Ger man ar tiller y in the and running toward the left from it, ap-
wheat f ields in this general vicinity f ired proximately parallel to this road, is a
point-blank at the Americans as they d e e p wo o d e d r av i n e . A t t a c k i n g f r o m
a d va n c e d, a n d b e f o r e t h e y c o u l d b e right to left across this road in the early
silenced these guns had destroyed many morning of the f irst day of the offensive,
of the tanks accompanying the attack. troops of the 2d Division swarmed into
A d d i n g t o t h e c o n f u s i o n c a u s e d by that ravine, where a desperate conflict
these ter rif ic bombardments, low-flying raged until about 7:00 a. m., when the
airplanes, both Allied and German, Germans were driven beyond it. A large
machine-gunned and bombed the troops number of the enemy who had been sur-
of their opponents. The Americans rounded at Vauxcastille took refuge in
crawled or dar ted through the wheat, t h e c ave s i n t h a t v i c i n i t y. T h e y r e -
steadily advancing against the Germans, ceived a message dropped from a German
who were often unseen until the infantry airplane directing them to retire, and late
practically stumbled on them or until the in the after noon were captured while
rapidly moving tanks drove the German attempting to f ight their way back from
soldiers from their cover into the open. the town to their own lines.
Vierzy, situated in a ravine to the left
La Verte-Feuille Farm After Its Capture by of and beyond Vauxcastille, is about 2
the 2d Division, July 18, 1918 miles from here on this side of the nearest
heavily wooded hill in that direction.
It was reached by American troops about
7:00 a. m. The town was entered about
930 a.m. but the American soldiers were
later compelled to retire an account of
the presence of persistent gas.
Early in the evening the 2d Division
a t t a c ke d f r o m t h e v i c i n i t y o f Va u x -
castille, and after a hard f ight in Vierzy,
where a large number of Ger mans were
made prisoner, pushed on and by mid-
n i g h t wa s a b o u t a m i l e b eyo n d t h a t
place. Desperate counterattacks launched
against the 2d Division during the night
of July 18 were unsuccessful.
On July 19 the division attacked about
9:00 a. m. The Ger mans were driven
back steadily until 10:00 a. m. when the
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 89

North of Beaurepaire Farm

American troops were near Tigny, which ✛


can be seen an a clear day 4 miles away
Those desiring to complete a loop in this
f r o m h e r e , b e y o n d Vi e r z y. T h e r e a
area or who started the tour at a place other
German counterattack against the divi-
than Paris or Belleau, should proceed to the
sion’s exposed left flank was repulsed.
Aisne-Marne American Cemetery either
T h e 2 d D iv i s i o n wa s r e l i eve d by a
by way of Vierzy, Tigny and Château-
French division during the night of July
Thierry or via Longpont and Neuilly-St.
1920, after brilliantly accomplishing,
Front. The route through Château-Thierry
during two days of continuous attacks,
is easier to follow and will take less time.
almost every mission assigned to it. Its
The other is more picturesque and goes
losses were over 4,300 off icers and men.
through the area where elements of the
✛ 4th Division fought. For information con-
This is the last stop of the tour. Every cerning this fighting see page 54.
important area of American f ighting in About 1 mile from road junction beyond
the region has been visited or pointed out Beaurepaire Farm is Longpont, location
ex c e p t t h a t o f t h e 3 2 d D iv i s i o n n e a r of interesting ruins of a large Cistercian
Juvigny and the 370th Infantry (93d Di- abbey which was built in the 12th Century.
vision) near Vauxaillon. The operations A visit to the town is walk while if time is
of these units are described in detail a available. Length of side trip—2 miles.
few pages farther on in this chapter. Time required for side trip—20 minutes.
T h e b a t t l e a r e a s we r e v i s i t e d v e r y
closely in the chronological order of the Beaurepaire Farm, July 19, 1918
f ighting, except for the one here. The
reader should remember that the counter-
offensive just described occur red after
the defensive f ighting of the 2d, 3d and
28th Divisions near Château-Thierry and
before any of the American divisions
had gained any appreciable amount of
ground in the Aisne-Marne region.
Although the American divisions in this
region served with French units and not
as part of an American army, they sup-
plied the numbers which made it possible
to attack and contributed greatly to the
strength of the offensive and to the Allied
morale. The American part in the actual
f ighting is evident when it is realized that
310,000 American soldiers were engaged
in battle and that 67,000 were casualties.
90 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

EN ROUTE NEAR BEAUREPAIRE FARM from an enemy strong point in the wood.
TO PARIS Disregarding the warnings of his com-
The Headquar ters of the 2d Division rades, he crawled out from the flank and
was established in the ruins of Beaurepaire made his way toward the German lines
Farm after it was captured on July 18, in the face of heavy f ire. He succeeded
and remained there until the division was in getting behind the enemy position and
relieved from the front line. rushed a machine-gun emplacement,
(126.6 m 203.7 km) Beyond Beaure- killing or driving off the crew with his
paire Farm, at the first road junction turn bayonet. With Ger man hand g renades
sharply to the right. he then bombed out the remaining por-
Compare the present appearance of La tion of the strong point, capturing four
Verte-Feuille Farm, at the next corner, men and two machine guns.
with the picture on page 88. About the same time Sergeant Kocak,
(128.3 m 206.4 km) Upon reaching the who was in the wood about 500 yards
next road crossing, turn to the left. from this road, went forward alone against
The advance of the 2d Division on July another machine-gun nest that, hidden
18 was in the direction opposite to that in the underbr ush, had checked the
which the tourist is now following. A m e r i c a n a d va n c e . Wi t h o u t t h e p r o -
In the woods to the right of this road tection of f ire from his own men, he
Were performed early on the morning of worked his way in between the German
July 18 the deeds for which Sergeants positions in the face of f ire from hostile
Louis Cukela and Matej Kocak, Marine covering detachments. Locating the ma-
Cor ps, 2d Division, was later awarded chine-gun nest, he rushed it and with his
Congressional Medals of Honor. b ayo n e t d r ov e o ff t h e c r ew. S h o r t ly
Sergeant Cukela was near this road thereafter he took command of 25 French
when his company met with heavy f ire colonial troops who had become separated
Captured Weapons in Public Square at Villers-Cotterêts, July 27, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 91

from their company and led them in an attack met with severe enemy f ire and the
attack which succeeded in wiping out net result was only slight gains.
another machine-gun nest. During the after noon of August 30
(129.4 m 208.2 km) Beyond the farm the 32d Division flanked the town of
about 1 mile are a 2d Division boulder Juvigny from the south and captured it in
marker and a marker indicating the far- a skillful attack, after some vicious street
thest advance of the German Army in f ighting. That evening two strong Ger-
1918. They are on the left near the road. man counterattacks were repulsed. The
The jump-off line of the 2d Division ran American line that night formed a small
near the location of these markers and was salient projecting into the German lines.
at right angles to this road. The attacks were resumed on the 31st,
( 1 3 4 . 9 m 2 1 7 . 1 k m ) Fro m Vi l l e rs - during which the artillery supporting the
Cotterêts there are three main roads to attack f ired a double barrage, instead of
Paris—via Senlis, or La Ferté-Milon and a single bar rage, as was customary. The
Meaux, or Nanteuil and Dommartin. Germans, who had been in the habit of
remaining in the numerous caves during
32D DIVISION NEAR JUVIGNY,
the ar tillery bombardments and then
AUGUST 28–SEPTEMBER 2
manning their trenches and machine-gun
The 32d Division, after its relief on the nests when the barrage moved on, were
Vesle River early in August, was assigned caught by the second barrage and suffered
on August 23 to the French Tenth Army. heavy casualties from it.
That Army was then engaged in the Oise- By the end of the day the 32d Division
Aisne offensive nor thwest of Soissons had reached in hard f ighting the impor-
which, if successful, would force the tant Soissons-St. Quentin road at a point
Ger mans to withdraw from their posi- n o r t h we s t o f Te r ny - S o r ny. T h e n ex t
tions along the Vesle and Aisne Rivers. day local effor ts to advance met with
The division was held in reserve until determined resistance. The division was
August 28, when it entered the line about relieved by the 1st Moroccan Division
1 m i l e we s t o f J u v i g ny. T h a t d ay i t on the night of September 1–2, having
launched local attacks and gained some made a total advance of 3 miles and hav-
ground in spite of heavy hostile f ire. ing suffered over 2,600 casualties.
On August 29 a general assault was The success of the 32d Division in this
made by the entire Tenth Ar my. This operation was of great assistance to the
92 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

F r e n c h Te n t h A r my, w h o s e p r e s s u r e Participating in the attack of the 59th


caused the Germans on this front to Division, which began on September 28,
retreat from the Vale River on September the 370th Infantry succeeded in advanc-
4 to a new position on the Aisne River, ing its lines to the Ailette River valley by
east of its junction with the Vesle. September 30. The Germans withdrew
from this front on the night of October 11,
370TH INFANTRY, 93D DIVISION,
and the American regiment crossed the
SEPTEMBER 15–NOVEMBER 11
Ailette and advanced into Bois de Mortier
The 370th Infantry, which had served on the 12th. Thereafter, acting as divi-
during the summer in both the St. Mihiel sion reserve, it participated in the pursuit

and Argonne regions with units of the as far as Cessières. The losses in these
French Army, moved into the Vauxaillon operations were about 500 officers and men.
area on September 15 as part of the The French 59th Division was then re-
French 59th Division. Four of its com- lieved, only to reenter the battle near
panies assisted French troops in unsuc- G r a n d l u p - e t - Fay o n O c t o b e r 3 0 , t h e
cessful attacks against Mont des Singes American regiment being placed in sup-
between September 17 and 20, and on port near Chantrud Farm, about a mile
the 24th the regiment as a unit took com- southwest of Grandlup-et-Fay. There,
mand of that part of the front line just on November 3, it suffered a loss of 41
north of the small village of Vauxaillon. men from the explosion of a single shell.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 93

The Ger mans made a general retire- leading the advance of the 59th Division.
ment in early November, and the 59th At the time of the Armistice the forward
Division took par t in the pursuit. Al- battalion of the regiment was at Le Gué
though spasmodic f ighting occur red, the d’Hossus, having marched about 40 miles

French Tanks With the 32d Division at Juvigny, August 29, 1918

370th Infantr y moved forward mainly in during the last week of the war. There
march formation. Battalions of the regi- were 65 casualties in the regiment during
ment alter nated with French units in the f ighting which has just been described.
ADDITIONAL PLACE OF INTEREST IN THE
AISNE-MARNE REGION

I N addition to the places whose World


War history has been described in the
itinerar y, there are a number of other
memorate the Second Battle of the
Marne. It consists of a statue near the
road symbolizing France and a sculp-
places in the Aisne-Mane region where tured group on a hillside representing
interesting war events occur red, where eight phantom spirits. The monument
there now exist features of special interest, has a beautiful location and commands a
or which are of suff icient importance in f ine view of the surrounding country.
pre-World War history to warrant special B e u va r d e s . L o c a t i o n o f 4 2 d D i v.
mention. For reference pur poses and for Hdqrs., during the period July 28–Aug. 12.
the benef it of the tourist who travels in ★Blérancourt. In a 17th Century
the area on roads other than the described château, which has been partially restored,
route, these places with some of their is displayed in this town an interesting
history have been recorded here. collection of paintings, engravings and
The map on the next page indicates the other articles relating to the histori-
general location of the places mentioned. cal cooperation of America and France.
At those places indicated by a star there The establishment, f inanced by Ameri-
is some existing interesting object such as cans, is called the “Musée de Coopéra-
a memorial, ancient ruins or World War tion Franco-Américain” and is one of the
feature of an outstanding character in national museums of France. A visit, if
excellent state of preservation. in the neighborhood, is recommended.
A rc i s - l e - Po n s a r t . 2 8 t h D iv. H d q r s . Bois de Bourbetin; Bois de la Côte 192
during the period Aug. 14–20. Bois de la Roehe . These woods near
B e l l e - Vu e Fa r m , n o r t h o f C i e rg e s . Vaux were the scenes of hard f ighting by
Scene of heavy f ighting by the 32d Divi- the Infantry Brigade of the 2d Division.
sion on both July 31 and August 1. On June 6 the division captured the Bois
★Beugneux. About halfway between de Bourbetin and the Bois de la Côte
Soissons and Château-Thierry, south of 192 in spite of heavy hostile f ire, and then
B e u g n e u x , o n t h e r o a d t o Wa l l é e i s defeated an enemy counterattack close
located a large French monument to com- to the last-named wood. The positions

Museum at Blérancourt

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 95

were ordered evacuated that night. In t h e 4 t h a t t a c h e d t o t h e l a t t e r, we r e


the late after noon of July 1 an attack heavily engaged in the vicinity of these
was launched on Vaux and the near-by woods from July 29 to August 1. The
Bois de la Roche. During the course of woods were f inally captured by the 32d
this attack the Bois de Bourbetin and the Division during August 2.
B o i s d e l a C o t e 1 9 2 we r e t a k e n . A l l Bois de Rognac Farm, one mile south-
objectives were gained within two hours east of Coulonges. III Cor ps Hdqrs.,
and many machine guns were captured. Aug. 8–19, while directing operations on
A Ger man counterattack early in the the Vesle. 28th Div. Hdqrs. during the
mor ning of July 2 was repulsed with period Aug. 20–Sept. 5.
heavy losses. In all, over 400 prisoners Breuil. This village was captured in
and much materiel were captured. severe f ighting early on July 18 by the
Bois Pelger; Bois de la Planchette. combined efforts of the 1st Division and
These adjoining woods northeast of Sergy the adjoining French troops.
were strongly held by the Germans after B u i re . I C o r p s H d q r s . , J u ly 2 2 - 2 8 ,
their retreat to the Ourcq River. The during par t of the time that its troops
32d and 42d Divisions, and elements of were moving forward to the Ourcq River.
96 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Buisson de Cresnes. This wood was Coeuvres-et-Valsery. 1st Div. Hdqrs.


captured on the morning of July 18 by during the period from July 18 to 23.
units of the 4th Division which were ★ Compiègne. This city was occupied
serving with the French 33d Division. for a short time in 1914 by the Germans
Buzancy. Near this town the Soissons- and the Ar mistice was signed near it.
Château-Thierry highway was cut by the Joan of Arc was captured at Compiègne
1st Division on July 21 and hostile counter- in 1430 by the Burgundians, who sold her
attacks were repulsed in heavy f ighting. to the English. The city contains a f ine
At the château near the village several historic château which is open to visitors.
h u n d r e d p r i s o n e r s we r e c a p t u r e d . A ★ Coucy-le-Château. Location of in-
small 1st Division monument is located teresting ruins of a large ancient castle,
alongside the main highway. partly destroyed by Germans during the
★ Carrefour de l’Armistice. The place war. The massive concrete emplacement
in the Forêt de Compiègne where the of a large German railroad gun is still to
Armistice was signed is now marked by be seen a short distance across the tracks
several interesting monuments. Marshal from the railroad station.
Foch’s headquarters car is housed there in Courthiézy and Sauvigny. Front-line
a building donated by an American. positions an the south bank of the Marne
Château de Fresnes, west of Courmont. River near these villages were held by
III Corps Hdqrs., Aug. 19–Sept. 6. elements of the 3d Division from June 3 to
C h a z e l l e R av i n e , e a s t o f C h a u d u n . 3 and by units of the 28th Division from
Scene of bitter f ighting by the 1st Division July 9 to 15. The 28th Division units,
during its attack on July 19. due to the retirement of the French on
★ Chemin des Dames. The terrain in their flanks, were surrounded and nearly
the vicinity of this road was fought over annihilated in the German attack of
by the French and Germans many times July 15. (See sketch on page 65.)
during the war. A number of French war C o u v re l l e s , a b o u t 2 m i l e s we s t o f
monuments are to be seen alongside it. Braine. Location of 26th Div. Hdqrs.

Marshal Foch’s Train Arriving at Compiègne


The Armistice was signed in the car in the foreground
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 97

Ruins of Old Castle at Coucy-le-Château

for a six weeks’ period in February and Mar tin. In a cave nor th of this point
March, 1918, while the division received was located the 77th Div. Hdqrs. from
front-line training with troops of the September 4 to September 16.
Fr e n c h X I C o r p s t h e n o c c u py i n g t h e Franquets Farm, about 1/2 mile north
Chemin des Dames Sector. At various of Jaulgonne. Scene of heavy f ighting by
times during this period elements of the the 3d Division on July 22 and 23. The
26th Division held portions of the corps far m was f inally captured on July 24.
front which extended to the westward from Genevrois Farm, near Bézu-le.Guéry.
Filain for about 11 miles. 2d Div. Hdqrs., June 10–July 10. 26th
Croix Rouge Farm. The 26th Divi- Div. Hdqrs., July 10–15, and on July 20.
sion, whose front line at the time was Glennes. On the plateau south of this
composed entirely of troops of the 56th village the 28th Division engaged in
Brigade, 28th Division, attached to it, severe f ighting on September 6, capturing
was held up near this farm on July 24 by four enemy strong points and holding
heavy resistance in the Forêt de Fère. them against a counterattack.
The farm was captured two days later, Grand Ru Farm, southeast of Etrépilly.
after severe hand-to-hand f ighting by the 26th Div. Hdqrs., July 21–30.
42d Division which had relieved the 26th. Grèves Farm, 1 1 / 2 miles west of St. Eu-
★ Dormans. An interesting World War g e n e . O n J u ly 1 5 a b a t t a l i o n o f t h e
memorial church has been constructed 3d Division advanced from near this farm
on the hill in rear of this town. to counterattack the advancing Germans.
★ Fère-en-Tardenois Castle. An inter- It was heavily shelled by hostile artillery
esting medieval castle built about 1200 and suffered severe losses.
A.D. is located about 1 1/2 miles northeast C l o s e t o t h i s f a r m Fi r s t L i e u t e n a n t
of Fère-en-Tardenois, close to the road to George P. Hays, Field Artillery, 3d Divi-
Fismes. The 77th Div. Hdqrs. was lo- sion, rendered the gallant ser vices for
cated in the adjoining château for the which he was awarded the Congressional
period from August 13 to September 4. Medal of Honor. At the outset of the
Fontaine des Filles, west of Mont-St. terrif ic enemy artillery bombardment on
98 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

German Troops Advancing Across the Chemin des Dames, May 1918

the night of July 14–15, his telephone line several hours poured an effective f ire into
was destroyed beyond repair. He im- the advancing enemy. For this action
mediately set out to establish contact he and the eight men were awarded Dis-
with the neighboring command post and tinguished Service Crosses.
while so doing established liaison with Janvier Farm, about 1/2 mile east of
two French batteries, visiting their posi- Connigis. Near this farm a battery of the
tions so frequently that he was mainly 3d Division on July 15 f ired at point-
responsible for the accurate f ire there- blank range against Ger man inf antr y
from. While thus engaged he was severe- u n t i l i t s a m m u n i t i o n wa s ex h a u s t e d .
ly wounded. His deeds were an impor- The guns were then disabled and the
tant factor in checking the advance of the gunners retired to the infantry lines.
enemy troops on this front. La Doultre Château, near Viffort. 3d
During the same battle and also near Div. Hdqrs., June 11–July 22.
t h i s f a r m , S e c o n d L i e u t e n a n t J ay F. La Houssière, east of Bassevelle. 28th
Hostetter, Field Ar tillery, 3d Division, Div. Hdqrs., July 15–18.
having discovered that two French guns Launay. In the vicinity of this village
on his left had lost their crews during the and Etangs Farm troops of the 3d Divi-
heavy German bombardment, requested sion on the afternoon of July 15 repulsed
and obtained per mission to use them. a strong German attack.
Securing eight volunteers from his ranks, Lizy-sur-Ourcq. 4th Div. Headquar-
he pressed the guns into action, and for ters during the period from July 5 to 23.

Large German Gun Emplacement at Coucy-le-Château

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German Batteries in Position Near the Marne River, June 1918 © G

★ Longpont. In this town are the ruins 42d Division on August 2 after a battle
of a large Cistercian abbey, said to have with Ger man machine gun units but was
been built in the 12th Century. voluntarily abandoned the same day. It
Magneux. Near this place on August was reoccupied on August 3 by the 4th
16 and 25, the 28th Division launched Division, which had relieved the 42d.
attacks to advance its lines closer to the Merval and Serval were occupied on
Vesle River. These attacks resulted in September 5 by the 77th Division while
heavy lighting although no permanent it was moving its front line forward from
gains of ground were made. the Vesle toward the Aisne River.
Mares Farm. About noon an June 2 a M é r y - s u r- M a rn e . 2 6 t h D iv. H d q r s .
marine battalion of the 2d Division hur- during the period July 15–20.
ried into a second-line position at this Missy-aux-Bois. During the f ighting
farm which is about 2 miles northwest of in the ravine nor th of Missy-aux-Bois a
Lucy-le-Bocage. Late the next day, the gap had developed between the American
G e r m a n s p u s h e d t h r o u g h t h e Fr e n c h 1st Division and the French division on
troops and reached the farm where their its left, thus exposing the left of the 1st
advance was stopped by the American Division to terrif ic f ire from several Ger-
battalion after a severe f ight. man machine guns located in a rock
M a re u i l - e n - D ô l e . 4 t h D iv. H d q r s . , q u a r r y. S e c o n d L i e u t e n a n t S a m u e l I .
Aug. 4–12, and 77th Div. Hdqrs., Aug. Parker, 1st Division, observing this seri-
12–13. The town was captured by the ous situation, ordered his depleted platoon

Artillery of I Corps on the March Near Vaux, July 1918

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100 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Monneaux, on the western slope of


Hill 204. This town was captured on
June 6 by elements of the 3d Division serv-
ing with the French 10th Colonial Division.
Montmirail. The non-motorized units
of the 3d Division detrained at this town
e a r ly i n J u n e wh e n t h e d iv i s i o n wa s
hurrying forward to enter the battle near
8-Inch Austrian Howitzer Captured by the Château-Thier ry. Near Montmirail im-
26th Division at Epieds, July 24, 1918
portant battles were fought by Napoleon
on February 11 and 14, 1814.
t o f o l l ow h i m i n a n a t t a c k u p o n t h e Mont Notre Dame. The large church
strong point. Meeting a disorganized located here replaces one destroyed by the
group of French soldiers wandering about Germans and stands on a site occupied by
in the ravine, he persuaded them to join historic churches since the 9th Century.
his platoon. This consolidated group Mont-St. Martin. On August 3 this
followed Lieutenant Parker through direct village was occupied by the 32d Division
enemy rifle and machine-gun f ire to the after a sharp f ight in the vicinity with
crest above the ravine and, rushing for- German machine gun units.
ward, took the quarry by storm, capturing Mont-sur-Courville. 28th Div. Hdqrs.
six machine guns and about 40 prisoners. during the period Sept. 5–9.
Lieutenant Parker remained in the com- Mortefontaine . 1st Div. Hdqrs., just
bat the following day and, although pain- b e f o r e t h e o ff e n s iv e o f J u ly 1 3 . I I I
fully wounded, led the battalion he then Cor ps Hdqrs., July 24–30, prior to its
commanded to its objective. For this assuming active direction of operations.
example of conspicuous gallantr y and The 1st Division assembled in the vicin-
spirit of self-sacrif ice he was later award- ity of this village before it started its
ed the Congressional Medal of Honor. attack early on the morning of July 18.

German Gun Firing Near Reims, June 1917 © G

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION 101

American Marching to Attack Near Beuvardes, July 24, 1918


The men are in gas masks, the road having recently been gassed by the Germans

Moucheton Château, north of Epieds. one of the prisoners to car ry him. The
I Corps Hdqrs., from July 28 to Aug. 5. bravery of Private Edwards, then a tradi-
P é t re t Fa r m , 1 m i l e e a s t o f C o u r- tion in his battalion because of his previous
champs. A battalion of the 4th Division gallant acts, again raised the morale of
attached to the French 164th Division his comrades to a high pitch. For his ex-
captured this farm and the near-by wood ceptional braver y during this f ighting,
during the day of July 20. Private Edwards was later awarded the
★ Pierrefonds Château. This magnif i- Congressional Medal of Honor.
cent castle is a f ine example of French Ravine Marion, southwest of Glennes.
medieval military architecture. Originally Scene of sharp f ighting by the 77th Divi-
built in 1390, the castle was restored in sion on September 8, 9 and 14.
1862. During the war, while used as a R e ddy Fa r m , n o r t h e a s t o f C i e rg e s .
hospital, it was shelled several times. The vicinity of this farm was the scene of
Râperie, about 1 mile east of Cutry. heavy f ighting by the 32d Division on
In the vicinity of this mill, the 1st Division August 1. It was captured by that divi-
had a short but bitter f ight early on the sion during August 2 after a sharp f ight.
morning of July 18. During this engage-
m e n t , P r iva t e Fi r s t C l a s s D a n i e l R . The Repairing of Roads Was a Problem
Edwards, 1st Division, who had been for the Engineers
under treatment for several weeks for
numerous and serious wounds and was
suffering intense pain from a freshly
shattered ar m, crawled alone into an
occupied German trench. He killed four
men and captured four more. While
conducting them to the rear a shell com-
pletely shattered one of Private Edwards’
legs but he continued to the rear, forcing
102 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

Troops of the 2d Division En Route to a Rest Camp During a


Temporary Relief from the Front Line, June 17, 1918

★ Reims, one of the historic cities of the scenes of bitter f ighting on July 22
France, was badly damaged by German and 23 by the 3d Division. They were
bombardments during the war. Objects both f inally captured on the latter date.
of interest in it are its Roman ruins and Trugny and Epieds. The 26th Divi-
the world-famous cathedral where many sion engaged in severe f ighting for the
of the kings of France were crowned. A possession of these two villages, which
visit to one of the vast champagne cel- were part of a strong German defensive
lars at Reims will prove interesting. position. In four different attacks made
S t . A g n a n . I n t h e n e a r- by B o i s d e during July 22 and 23 the towns changed
Rougis and Bois de Condé, the 55th hands a number of times.
Brigade of the 28th Division assisted the Ve r t e - Fe u i l l e Fa r m . S o u t h we s t o f
French in checking the German July 15 Soissons, on the main road to Villers-
offensive. It sustained heavy losses in Cotterêts, about 1 mile northeast of
two counterattacks launched by it from Verte-Feuille Farm is, located a French
the Bois de Rougis on July 16. (See the monument “TO THE GLORY OF THE FRENCH
sketch which appears on page 65.) AND ALLIED SOLDIERS WHO FOUGHT VIC-
St. Pierre Farm, southwest of Révillon. TORIOUSLY ON THIS PLATEAU FROM MAY
Intense local f ighting by the 77th Division 18 TO JULY 25, 1918.” Among the many
occurred near this place on September 8, units listed are British divisions and the
9 and 14. On the latter date positions American 1st and 2d Divisions.
near the farm changed hands as many as Villers-en-Prayères. Captured by the
three times before they f inally remained 77th Division on September 6.
in the possession of the Americans. Villette . The 6th Brigade of the 3d
Tartiers. 32d Div. Headquarters dur- Division held the front line northwest of
ing the period Aug. 27–Sept. 6. the village of Villette near the Vesle River
Tieulerie Farm and the near-by Bois de from August 6 to 11 and during this period
Mont l’Evêque, about 1 1/2, miles north of made two determined attempts to estab-
Char tèves. This f ar m and wood were l i s h a b r i d g e h e a d n o r t h o f t h e r ive r .
SUMMARY OF COMBAT
AMERICAN SERVICE
OPERATIONS IN THEOF AMERICANREGION
AISNE–MARNE DIVISIONS 103

IN THE AISNE-MARNE REGION

See footnotes on page 104


104 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE AISNE–MARNE REGION

SUMMARY OF COMBAT SERVICE—Continued

1
All armies and corps are French unless otherwise indicated. In this table Am. = American.
2
Casualties are for period in line only. Figures in parenthesis give casualties for units temporarily attached.
Add figure in parenthesis to the one above in order to obtain the total casualties during the entire operation.

32d Division Troops Resting Near Mont-St. Martin, August 6, 1918


Chapter III
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 105

AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

T
HE St. Mihiel offensive, which began of the American Headquarters in France.
on September 12,1918, was the first This plan was constantly kept in mind
operation in the World War carried by the American High Command and
out by a complete American army under beginning in Januar y 1918 the battle
the separate and independent control front near St. Mihiel was used to give
of the American Commander-in-Chief. front-line experience to American divi-
The plan to develop an army near St. sions and to acquaint them with the
Mihiel when suff icient troops were avail- region in which they would later attack.

able, and to reduce the salient there as a The succession of German drives in the
preliminary to a more decisive operation spring of 1918 made it necessary to post-
in the same vicinity, was proposed by pone the original plan, as all available
General Pershing and was agreed to by troops were urgently needed at other places
General Pétain at the f irst conference o n t h e f r o n t . C o n s e q u e n t ly, a l t h o u g h
between them shortly after the ar rival there were more than 1,200,000 American

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Wartime View From Top of Montsec
Arrows indicate successive barriers of wire

soldiers in France in July, the American c h a n g e d i n s h a p e f o r f o u r ye a r s . I t s


combat units were widely distrib uted western face ran diagonally across the
along the entire front, either serving in wooded heights east of the Meuse River,
line with the French and British Armies and its southern face extended from St.
or undergoing training in rear areas. Mihiel to the Moselle River, traversing
When the reduction of the Aisne- the Heights of the Meuse, the Heights of
Marne salient was assured General Persh- the Moselle and the intervening Woëvre
ing pointed out to the Allied Commander- Plain. This plain is cut by small streams
in-Chief that the improved situation made and dotted with woods of varying size.
possible the concentration of American It is comparatively low ground contain-
units, and insisted that the formation of ing many large ponds and swampy areas,
an American army be resumed. Although thus making cross-country travel diff i-
the French but more especially the British cult especially in wet weather.
urged that American units be left with Within the German lines at the south
their forces, an understanding was face of the salient were the high isolated
reached that most of these units should hills of Loupmont and Montsec. These
soon be assembled into an independent were not only strong natural defensive
army in the neighborhood of St. Mihiel. positions but in addition afforded the
T h e A m e r i c a n Fi r s t A r my H e a d - enemy excellent observation of much of
quar ters began to function on August the ground behind the Allied lines.
1 0 a n d o n t h a t d ay s t a r t e d v i g o r o u s Two strong German positions had been
preparations for the reduction of the prepared in front of the one across the
St. Mihiel salient. The assembling of base of the salient, and all had been
units commenced soon thereafter and on strengthened by elaborate systems of
August 30 the First Ar my took com- trenches, barbed-wire entanglements, con-
mand of the battle front from Por t-sur- crete shelters and machine-gun emplace-
Seille, 5 miles east of the Moselle, to m e n t s . T h e s a l i e n t wa s t h e r e f o r e a
Watronville, 7 miles southeast of Verdun. veritable f ield fortress against which the
T h e S t . M i h i e l s a l i e n t wa s s h a p e d French in the preceding years had made a
roughly like a triangle with its points number of unsuccessful attacks.
near Pont-à-Mousson, St. Mihiel and The value of the salient to Ger many
Ve r d u n . I t wa s 2 5 m i l e s w i d e a t i t s l ay i n t h e f a c t t h a t i t p r o t e c t e d t h e
base, extended 16 miles into the Allied strategic centers of Metz and the Briey
lines and had remained almost un- iron basin: interrupted traff ic on the main

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 107

Paris–Nancy railroad; cut the Verdun- G e n e r a l Pe r s h i n g f e l t t h a t t h e S t .


Toul railroad; and threatened the Allied Mihiel offensive should be carried out as
territory in its vicinity, especially west of planned and def initely stated that the
the Meuse. Its reduction was impera- American divisions would f ight in the
tive before any g reat Allied offensive future only as par t of an independent
could be launched against the Briey and American army. After a series of confer-
Metz region or northward, between the ences with Marshal Foch it was f inally
Meuse River and Argonne Forest, toward a g r e e d, o n S e p t e m b e r 2 , t h a t t h e S t .
the general area around Sedan. Mihiel attack would be car ried out, but
The preparations for the attack against t h a t i t s o b j e c t ive s wo u l d b e s t r i c t ly
the salient were well along when, on limited so that the American Army could
August 30, the Allied Commander-in- undertake another major offensive about
Chief suggested to General Pershing that ten days later on the front between the
the offensive be reduced greatly in scope, Meuse River and the Argonne Forest.
that most of the American divisions be This agreement put a great burden
used for an attack about September 15 upon the American First Ar my as under
between Verdun and Reims and that in it the Ar my was called upon to car ry to
the new attack some of the American a conclusion the impor tant offensive at
divisions be assigned to operate under St. Mihiel which was scheduled to star t
certain of the higher French commands. on September 12, to concentrate an enor-
Reserves Moving Forward During the St. Mihiel Offensive
Note Montsec in the distance
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 109

mous force on the Meuse-Argonne front, I Corps, extending from Port-sur-Seille


and to initiate a still greater operation westward, had the 82d, 90th, 5th and 2d
there, all within the brief space of two Divisions in line from right to left, and
weeks. In other words, at the time the the 78th in reserve. The IV Corps con-
agreement with the Allied Commander- t i n u e d t h e l i n e t o t h e we s t a s f a r a s
in-Chief was made the American Army Mar voisin, with the 89th, 42d and 1st
undertook the mission of launching with- Divisions in line, and the 3d in reserve.
in the next 23 days two great offensives The American V Corps, composed of
on battlef ields 40 miles apar t. Never the 26th Division, the French 15th
before on the Western Front had a single Colonial Division and par t of the 4th
ar my attempted such a colossal task, Division, in line from right to left, and

and its successful accomplishment re- the remainder of the 4th in reserve, was to
flects great credit on all those concerned. make the secondary attack on and from
The f inal plans for the St. Mihiel opera- that par t of the Heights of the Meuse
tion provided for a main drive against the to the south of Haudiomont.
southern face of the salient, a secondary The French II Colonial Cor ps, com-
blow against the western face, and holding posed of three French divisions, each
attacks and raids against the tip. The occupying large sectors of the front line
American I and IV Cor ps were desig- around the tip of the salient, was to sup-
nated to deliver the main attack. The port the left of the main attack and the
More than 550,000 Americans and about
110,000 French were involved in the
offensive. The air farce concentrated for
it, 1,481 airplanes, was the largest ever
brought together up to that time and con-
sisted chiefly of French and British planes.
The Ar my had about 400 French tanks
available of which 350 were light ones and
144 were manned by Americans. About
3,000 pieces of artillery were used and
approximately 3,300,000 rounds of artil-
lery ammunition were brought into the
area in preparation for the offensive.
The secret movement of such a large
number of troops to the battle front and
the many details involved in planning the
operation and in providing the necessary
special troops put a tremendous strain
upon the Army Staff which it successfully
met. Finally, after weeks of effor t, on
the night of September 11–12 all prepa-
Road Near Sanzey Just Before the rations had been completed, and the First
St. Mihiel Offensive
Army was in position ready for battle.
Note its muddy, torn-up condition typical of
most roads in the region at that time
Opposing it, holding the salient, was an
enemy force known as Army Detachment
right of the secondary attack and to hold “C”. It was composed of 8 divisions and
the enemy at the apex of the salient while 2 brigades in line and 5 divisions which
the other attacks were being made. were held in the rear areas in reserve.
Of the three American cor ps and the The Germans suspected that an attack
nine American divisions which took part was being prepared but believed that it
in the attack two of the corps and four of would not take place until late in Sep-
the divisions had never before been en- tember. In anticipation of this attack,
gaged at the front in offensive combat. and to shorten their front line because
The First Army had the 35th, 80th and their reserves on the Western Front were
91st Divisions in reserve for use in case of being depleted, the German High Com-
necessity. The Army’s needs for addi- mand issued orders on September 11 for
tional aviation, artillery and tanks, to a gradual withdrawal from the salient
round out the normal proportions of and the destruction of all things of mili-
t h e s e a r m s i n t h e h i g h e r u n i t s , we r e tary value which could not be moved.
largely met by the French and British. The execution of this order, however, had
Wrecked Bridge at Flirey
Note double line of traffic, continuous for three days after the attack of September 12, 1918
German 21-Centimeter Mortar Battery Firing on Western Front, October 1918. © G

n o t b eg u n wh e n t h e A m e r i c a n a t t a c k With the idea of cutting off the retreat


burst upon the defenders of the salient. of as many Germans as possible, General
The bombardment of the hostile posi- Pershing, early on the evening of the 12th,
tions began at 1:00 a. m. on September 12 directed that troops of the IV and V
and was so intense and overpowering that Cor ps be rushed with all speed to the
the German guns could not make effective vicinity of Vigneulles. Par t of the 26th
reply. At 5:00 a. m. the infantry of the Division marched along a nar row forest
m a i n a t t a c k j u m p e d o ff . D e s p i t e t h e road directly to the heart of the salient,
lack of tanks, only a few of which came and soon after 2 : 00 a. m. Vigneulles was
up in time to assist the troops through the i n i t s p o s s e s s i o n . A b o u t d aw n o n t h e
wire entanglements, the entire advance 13th it met patrols of the 1st Division just
proceeded according to schedule. n o r t h e a s t o f t h a t t ow n . T h i s m a r k e d
The plan provided that the g reatest the closing of the salient and the German
initial penetration should be made by the soldiers who had not retired beyond that
IV Corps and the left of the I Cor ps, the vicinity were cut off and captured.
objectives for September 12 requiring a 5- P r a c t i c a l l y a l l o b j e c t ive s h a d b e e n
mile advance. In its execution the 1st gained by the evening of September 13,
Division, on the left flank of the main at- American 75-Millimeter Gun Firing Toward
tack, captured Nonsard and entered the Montsec From a Position Near Beaumont,
woods to the nor th; the 42d Division September 12, 1918
pushed on beyond the towns of Essey and
Pannes; while the 89th seized Bouillon-
ville. In the I Cor ps, the 2d Division
captured Thiaucourt, and the 5th drove
through Viéville-en-Haye, with its eastern
flank bent back to connect with the 90th
Division, which was at the pivot of the
main attack on the f irst day.
On the western face of the salient the
artillery preparation was continued until
8:00 a. m., when the infantry of the V
Corps launched its assault. By nightfall
the corps had advanced about 2 miles.
While the attacks on the two faces were
prog ressing repor ts indicated that the
Germans were retiring from that part of
the salient in front of the French troops,
although raids into the opposing lines
made by the French near the town of
St. Mihiel met with considerable opposi-
tion principally from machine gun units.

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Supplies Moving Forward and Prisoners Marching to the Rear at St. Baussant,
September 12, 1918

and the organization of the new position, more than 15,000 prisoners and about 450
roughly along the line joining Vandières cannon had been captured, and over 200
and Haudiomont, was begun. Deep raids square miles of territory, with its remain-
and local attacks were pushed, especially ing French population, had been restored
on the eastern part of the front of attack, to France. The railroads in the vicinity
until September 16, by which time the of St. Mihiel had been freed for Allied use,
whole of the Bois des Rappes and much the threat of the salient against the sur-
adjoining territory had been captured. rounding country had been removed and
Although the new front was 21 miles one of the most important obstacles to an
shor ter than the former battle line, by advance toward the vital Briey–Metz
September 17 the enemy forces had been r eg i o n o r S e d a n h a d b e e n ove r c o m e .
increased to 10 divisions and 2 brigades American staffs had shown their ability
in line, and 10 other divisions in reserve, to maneuver and control large masses,
an actual increase of sewn divisions dur- and the whole Army had developed added
ing the period of the offensive. The First self-confidence and a sense of power which
Army had placed the 78th Division in was to be of great value in helping it to
line during the same period and had surmount the diff icult tasks ahead.
withdrawn from the line the American 1st, The battle was the f irst large Allied
2d, 4th, 5th and French 26th Divisions. offensive of the year against a carefully
The complete success of the American prepared trench system, the previous
Army in its f irst offensive greatly stimu- Allied attacks of 1918 having been made
lated the morale of the Allies and de- against salients created by the Germans
pressed that of the Germans. The Amer- in their spring and summer offensives
ican casualties were less than 9,000, yet and which were only partially organized
for defense. The clean-cut victory of the
German Prisoners at Beaumont,
American Army at St. Mihiel indicated
September 12, 1918
that no longer could any German posi-
tions on the Western Front be considered
strong enough to be impregnable.
The ability displayed by the Americans
in penetrating formidable wire entangle-
ments so favorably impressed the French
High Command that selected groups of
off icers and enlisted men were sat from
neighboring French armies to view the
strength of the obstacles through which
the American soldiers had made their way.
The French off icial comments at the time
characterized the conduct of the American
divisions in this battle as “magnif icent”.

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Gas Alarm for an American Unit on Western Face of the St. Mihiel Salient,
April 30, 1918

The transfer of American units to the progress for more than two weeks, and
Mew-Argonne region, their next g reat the situation there demanded that every
battlef ield, was begun even before the American division be used to the limit of
completion of the St. its endurance. The
Mihiel offensive, and Second Army, there-
by t h e 2 0 t h o f S e p - fore, had for the
tember only the 26th, time being the rôle
42d, 78th, 89th, 90th of holding its front
and four French di- principally with tired
v i s i o n s we r e l e f t t o divisions while they
serve on this front. rested and prepared
These divisions, for another tour of
a n d t h o s e wh i c h e n - duty in the Meuse-
tered the line from Argonne f ighting.
time to time as reliev- Active patrolling and
ing units, continued raiding were contin-
to strengthen the u e d, h owe v e r, a n d
positions and to con- the artillery carefully
duct local attacks to registered on targets
secure points of in anticipation of a
vantage. Ar tiller y possible major offen-
bombardments by s iv e t o b e u n d e r -
b o t h s i d e s we r e o f taken later.
frequent occurrence. Early in November
On October 12 it became evident
Major General that the Allied and
R o b e r t L . B u l l a r d, American attacks,
the Commanding covering almost the
General of the newly entire front from
organized American the Meuse to the
S e c o n d A r my, t o o k North Sea, were pro-
command of the front ducing great dis-
Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard
b e t we e n F r e s n e s - e n - organization within
Commanding General of the
Woëvre and Por t-sur- the German armies,
Second Army from October 12, 1918
S e i l l e , t h e n h e l d by April 15, 1919 a n d o n N ov e m b e r
the 7th, 37th, 79th, 5, the American
92d and two French divisions. The 28th Commander-in-Chief ordered the Second
American Division was in Army reserve. Ar my to begin advancing its lines in
At that time the First Army offensive preparation for an offensive in the direc-
in the Meuse-Argonne region had been in t i o n o f B r i e y. T h e A r my p l a n n e d t o

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114 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

launch these attacks on November 11 the task, with the stipulation that these
b u t o n t h e eve n i n g o f N ove m b e r 9 a units should operate under the command
message was transmitted from the Allied of the American Second Ar my.
Commander-in-Chief which directed that T h e p l a n s p r e p a r e d by t h e S e c o n d
vigorous pressure be applied immediately Ar my for its par t in this offensive pro-
along the whole front. vided for a powerful drive in a northeast-
The 7th, 28th, 33d and 92d Divisions, erly direction from the vicinity of Port-
then on the Second Army front, began at sur-Seille, east of the Moselle River. On
once the attacks already planned. The its right flank a French army group was
scarcity of troops prohibited strong con- to attack at the same time and the
centrations but in spite of this and of American First Ar my from its location
s t u b b o r n r e s i s t a n c e e n c o u n t e r e d, t h e in the general vicinity of the Meuse
Army made a considerable advance, re- R i v e r w a s t o d r i v e e a s t wa r d i n t h e
covering a total of approximately 25 direction of Longwy, as shown on the
square miles of French territory. sketch at the top of this page.
In the meantime the Allied Com- The date for the commencement of this
mander-in-chief had decided upon an combined offensive, which without doubt
offensive east of the Moselle River, and would have produced far-reaching results,
requested that six American divisions be was f ixed by the French High Command
designated to take par t in it. General as November 14. The American divisions
Pershing had long favored an attack in directed to take part on that section of
that direction and had planned to launch the front east of the Moselle River were
one there following the St. Mihiel offen- already in movement toward their new
sive. He therefore selected the 3d, 4th, positions when the Armistice became
28th, 29th, 35th and 36th Divisions for effective on the morning of November 11.
AMERICAN
A TOUROPERATIONS IN THE ST.
OF THE AMERICAN MIHIEL REGION
BATTLEFIELDS 115

IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

T HIS tour begins and ends at Verdun.


It is 96.1 miles (154.6 kilometers)
long and can be completed in eight hours
When following this itinerar y, unless
contrary road instructions are given, the
tourist should continue straight ahead.
if care is taken not to spend too much
time at the interesting places. It is sug- EN ROUTE VERDUN TO CÔTE DE SENOUX
gested that lunch be carried.
The data given on pages 520–521 will Speedometer distance is measured from
be helpful to those following this tour. the Victory monument in Verdun.
The narrative at the beginning of the (0 m 0 km) At large World War monu-
chapter should be kept in mind and the ment near center of city (Monument à la
map facing page 164 consulted so that the Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun), with
operations which took place in this region the flight of steps up to the monument
will be more clearly understood. on the right-hand side of automobile, set
The speedometer distances given on the speedometer at zero. Proceed straight
following pages are mainly for general ref- ahead, at the second street turn left and
erence pur poses and, except for a few cross the Meuse River.
places at the beginning and near the end Beyond town, follow the road signs
of the tour which are specif ically noted in toward the city of Metz.
the road instr uctions, these distances (6.1 m 9.8 km) At road fork 6.1 miles
are not essential in following this tour. (9.8 kilometers) from starting point, bear
Côte de Senoux, January 1919
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 117

to the right toward the village of Hatton-


châtel. Note the speedometer reading.
The tour now goes on a narrow road
along the wooded Heights of the Meuse
River directly to Hattonchâtel.
This road is called the Grande Tranchée
de Calonne. It is said to have been built
by direction of M. de Calonne, Minister
of Finance under Louis XVI, as a means
of access to his château at Hattonchâtel.
D u r i n g t h e wa r i t wa s o f g r e a t i m - Changing the German Name of a Street
por tance as an avenue of supply and in Vigneulles From “Hindenburg Strasse”
communication. Near it, concealed in to “Wilson, U. S. A.”
the trees, were hundreds of shacks, under-
ground shelters, artillery emplacements, (12.6 m 20.3 km) At top of crest, 6.5
temporary roads, narrow-gauge railway miles (10.5 kilometers) from road fork
tracks and supply depots of all kinds. where speedometer reading was noted,
In the periods of intensive f ighting on STOP.
the front ahead this road was the scene This is the Côte de Senoux.
of g reat activity as motor tr ucks and Face down the road, which at this point
other vehicles moved thousands of tons runs approximately south.
of ammunition, supplies and equipment The American 2d Division received its
to the front lines, and innumerable men f irst training in the battle line near here
used it in going to and returning from during March, April and May of 1918.
b a t t l e . T h i s a c t iv i t y wa s c a r r i e d o n The French front-line trenches which
mainly at night and consequently during ran through this point at right angles to
t h e h o u r s o f d a r k n e s s t h e r o a d wa s the road had been located here for nearly
packed with continuous streams of traff ic four years when on September 8 the 26th
moving in both directions. Division took command of this part of the
On August 30, 1918, the American First front. The German trenches were then
Army took command of the front which about 100 yards ahead, the intervening
included the St. Mihiel salient. Its ground being no man’s land.
orders for the offensive on September 12 Only a faint idea can now be obtained
provided for a main attack by six divi- of the scene of appalling destr uction
sions against the souther n face, a sec- wh i c h ex i s t e d h e r e a t t h a t t i m e . T h e
ondar y drive by one American and one land was a grayish-white waste with but
French division against the face in front little vegetation. Thick masses of barbed
of here, and a holding attack by a French wire and other debris covered the ground
cor ps around the tip of the salient. The and shattered and splintered trees dotted
m a i n a t t a c k wa s t o b e m a d e by t h e
American I and IV Cor ps at 5:00 a. m. Maneuvering a Balloon Near Haudainville
and the secondary attack by the American
V Cor ps at 8:00 a. m.
The V Corps at the time of the offensive
was composed of the 4th and 26th Divi-
sions and a French division.
As an additional help in locating the stop-
ping point indicated in the next paragraph,
it should be noted that a small monument
to Lieutenant Robert Gaillie, a French
officer, is located on the west immediately
preceding, alongside the left of the road.

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118 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Panorama From Stop


the landscape. Trenches fur rowed the Hattonchâtel, about 8 miles from this
area in all directions and interlocking shell point, to meet the advanced elements of
holes were everywhere. the American troops in the main attack.
Taking par t in the great offensive of In compliance with this order a brigade
the First Ar my against the St. Mihiel of the division, reinforced by artillery and
salient, the 26th Division from its sector machine gun units, formed a column on
astride this road attacked at 8:00 a.m. on this road some distance ahead, and shortly
September 12, after a seven-hour artillery after dark boldly marched forward to ac-
bombardment. In spite of considerable complish its mission. Although the Ger-
resistance and the diff icult nature of the mans were considerably disorganized by
t e r r a i n , i t h a d a d va n c e d by n i g h t f a l l t h e A m e r i c a n s u c c e s s e s o f t h a t d ay,
more than 2 miles along this road. nevertheless the night march was dan-
The main attack from the other side of gerous and diff icult. After having cap-
the salient started at 5:00 a.m. and pro- tured a considerable number of prisoners
gressed so rapidly in this general direction the brigade reached Hattonchâtel about
that by afternoon the success of the entire 2:00 a. m. and by daybreak had estab-
offensive was assured. In order to reap lished contact below that village with
the full benef its of the victory and to pre- the troops of the main attack.
vent the escape of Ger man units still After leaving this point the tour now
remaining in the salient, General Pershing enters the area captured by the Ameri-
early in the evening directed that the 26th can First Army in its September 12 offen-
Division rush troops to the vicinity of sive and goes to the heart of the salient.

German Cavalry Regiment Deployed for Counterattack, September 1918 © G


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 119

Near Hattonchâtel
EN ROUTE CÔTE DE SENOUX TO
buildings and supply dumps which the
HATTONCHÂTEL
r e t r e a t i n g G e r m a n s we r e d e s t r oy i n g .
Note the speedometer reading. The leading elements promptly moved
(16.0 m 24.1 km) 2.4 miles (3.8 kilo- down from these heights and occupied
meters) farther on, near the kilometer Vigneulles, the village seen to the right
post seen to the left of the road, is the not far from the foot of this hill.
place from which the night march of the The isolated hill seen to the right in the
2 6 t h D iv i s i o n b eg a n . D u r i n g t h e a d - distance, 7 miles away, is Montsec. The
vance small detachments were placed to memorial on its summit was built by the
guard each road and trail leading off to United States Government to commemo-
the right with the object of trapping the rate the St. Mihiel and other American
Germans who had not already retreated operations in this part of France.
to the left across this road. The main attack on September 12 was
(20.6 m 33.1 km) About 80 yards this launched in this general direction by the
side of next village, Hattonchâtel, STOP. American I and IV Corps from a line to
Face the town of Hattonchâtel, which the left of and beyond Montsec. The
direction is approximately east. blow fell with crushing effect on the sur-
This point is near the center of the St. prised defenders and the victorious
Mihiel salient. When the troops of the troops on the f irst day swept forward
26th Division reached here during the approximately 5 miles. The Germans,
night of September 12-13 they saw the realizing that they could not hold the
Woëvre Plain below ablaze with burning salient in the f ace of this tremendous
American Narrow-Gauge Train Bringing Up Rations Near Ménil-la-Tour
120 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Vignuelles Soon After Its Capture

advance, began quickly to withdraw and tance away, is Woël. On September 14


to destroy all supplies and other articles the troops of the First Ar my captured it
that could not be taken with them. and that night the front line of the Army
By dark on September 12 the 1st was established just beyond Woël, r un-
Division, the nearest flank unit of the n i n g g e n e r a l ly a t r i g h t a n g l e s t o t h e
main attack, was in the center of the observer’s line of vision when facing in
l a r g e wo o d s e e n t o t h e r i g h t f r o n t . the direction of that place.
Contact between these troops and the One brigade of the American 4th Divi-
2 6 t h D iv i s i o n wa s e s t a bl i s h e d a b o u t sion was in line along the edge of the
dawn on September 13, at the foot of heights about 3 miles to the left of here,
these slopes, thus closing the salient. at the pivot of the attack on this face of
On September 13 the rapid advance of the salient. On September 12 and 13 its
the main attack continued and all divi- activities were conf ined to reconnoitering
sions moved up to a line approximately but on September 14 it moved forward
straight ahead from this point. By capturing considerable ground.
nightfall practically all objectives of the For several days after September 14
offensive had been gained. f ighting took place at a number of points
On that day the 26th Division moved along the First Army front as the divi-
into Viéville-sous-les-Côtes and Billy- sions repulsed counterattacks and made
sous-les-Côtes, the two villages to the left local attacks to determine def initely the
close in at the foot of this hill. It was at n ew e n e my l i n e o f r e s i s t a n c e a n d t o
and near those towns that a composite establish their own lines in the most
squadron of the American 2d Cavalr y a d va n t a g e o u s p o s i t i o n s . T h e a r e a i n
reconnoitered on September 13. This is which this f ighting occur red is passed
of interest as it is one of the few times through toward the end of this tour.
that American cavalry was used as com- At the far side of Hattonchâtel is a
bat units during the war and gives a good picturesque château to which visitors are
indication of the extent of the break- admitted. It was restored soon after the
through during the St. Mihiel attack. war and from its grounds an excellent view
The village to the left front, some dis- of the surrounding county, is obtained.

(120)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 121

EN ROUTE HATTONCHÂTEL TO MONTSEC was captured by a patrol of the 26th Divi-


sion early on the morning of September 13.
(20.7 m 33.3 km) Immediately after S t r a i g h t t h ro u g h t h e v i l l a g e s o f
entering Hattonchâtel, turn sharply to Buxières and Buxerulles which were occu-
the right and descend the hill. pied by a French division on September
(21.9 m 35.2 km) In the center of Vi- 13. In the wooded ravines to the right of
gneulles where road ends abruptly, these towns were located many German
turn to the right; then to the left. war establishments. These included a
In Vigneulles the 26th Division cap- large hospital camp, a dressing station and
tured a considerable number of prisoners, extensive supply dumps for food, engineer
including a regimental band, and a great materials and ammunition.
quantity of military supplies. (28.8 m 46.3 km) In next village, Woin-
(22.3 m 35.8 km) Beyond town, at first ville, turn sharp left toward Montsec.
road junction, to the right of the road This village was the location of the
was located one of the many big supply headquarters of the American IV Cor ps
depots which the Germans had construct- after the St. Mihiel offensive, from No-
ed along the Wester n Front during the vember 3 to the Armistice.
war. These depots consisted of a large (29.2 m 46.9 km) Beyond town, to the
number of storehouses so arranged in a right is seen Loupmont Ridge. It is a
network of railroad lines and roads that long narrow ridge which lay in rear of the
supplies delivered to them from Germany German front line and was an important
by standard-gauge railway could be re- part of their defensive system. Numer-
shipped with a minimum of labor to ous deep underground shelters had been
units in the front lines by narrow-gauge dug into this side of it.
railroads, motor trucks and wagons. (31.9 m 51.2 km) At far side of the
(22.4 m 36.0 km) To the right up the next village, Montsec, turn right toward
small valley is seen the town of Creuë the village of Loupmont.
which was entered early on September 13 (32.1 m 51.7 km) At the next road junc-
by patrols sent out by the 26th Division. tion, bear to the right up Montsec hill.
Continue through Heudicourt, which (33.1 m 53.2 km) At flagpole, STOP.

Anti-Aircraft Gun in Action


St. Mihiel American Memorial on Montsec
This imposing monument is one of the
three principal memorials erected by the
United States Government in France.
Its site upon this high isolated hill, domi-
nating the surrounding country in nearly
all directions, cannot he surpassed.
The hill of Montsec is well known to the
soldiers of the American Expeditionary
Forces as a large number of American
divisions had their f irst ser vice in the
battle line near this place.
The following description of the com-
bat operations should he read by the ob- Church at Montsec
ser ver when standing upon the upper
ter race of the monument in the space
between the f irst columns to the south
(right as flagpole is faced) of the steps.
This hill was close to the south face
of the St. Mihiel salient. Because of its
natural strength and height it was an
exceptionally important point in the Ger-
man defensive system. On this side it
was protected by numerous trenches, ma-
chine-gun emplacements and barbed-wire
entanglements. On the other side tun-
nels led to large underground shelters in
the hill and to observation posts along
this crest from which the German artil-
lery f ire was directed and controlled.
Except for the weakness inherent to all
salients, which is the danger of attack
from both sides at once, the St. Mihiel
salient was exceptionally strong. Proof
German Artillery Telephone Exchange at Montsec
of this is that it projected into the Allied
lines for four years. In 1914 the Ger-
mans had established themselves near
here on strong natural positions and had
spent the following years in constructing
elaborate trenches, vast masses of barbed-
wire entanglements, concrete machine-
gun emplacements and other f ield works
in an endeavor to make these positions
i m p r eg n a bl e . I t wa s f e a r e d by m a ny
that attacking the salient mould prove
to be a diff icult and costly undertaking.
The plan of the offensive consisted of a
main attack by the I and IV Corps on a
14-mile front on this face of the salient,
a secondary attack a few hours later by the
V Corps, whose zone of action we have
already visited, and a diversion and ex-
p l o i t a t i o n by t h e Fr e n c h I I C o l o n i a l

(123)
German Dugout Entrance on Montsec
The Hill was honeycombed with dugouts
124 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Panorama Looking East From Montsec

Corps which held the tip of the salient. The battle started at 1:00 a. m., dotting
The places mentioned below should be the countryside in front of here with flame
identif ied by means of the direction as about 3,000 pieces of artillery of all
arrows located between the columns. calibers commenced a violent bombard-
Spread out before the observer like a ment. In the next few hours thousands
huge relief map is part of the ground over of shells crashed into the hostile battery
which the main assault of the First Amy emplacements, observation posts, com-
swept on September 12, 1918. munication centers, trenches and other
The jump-off line extended from Mar- vital points, while a smoke screen was
voisin, the small village seen to the right placed around this hill to prevent the
f r o n t j u s t b eyo n d t h e n e a r e s t wo o d ; German observers on it from seeing and
passed between Richecourt and Seiche- reporting details of the advance.
prey; ran this side of Flirey, whose church The infantry assault in front of here
steeple is seen to the left of Seicheprey; began at 5:00 a. m., in a drizzling rain and
and continued on to the Moselle River, mist. The strength and suddenness of
which is about 15 miles away. t h e a t t a c k c o m p l e t e ly d i s r u p t e d t h e
The divisions in the initial assault were, German defense and the divisions ad-
in order from the observer’s right to left, vanced steadily. Within a few hours suff i-
the 1st, 42d, 89th, 2d, 5th and part of the cient ground had been gained to assure
90th. The rest of the 90th Division and the success of the entire operation.
that par t of the 82d Division beyond Richecour t and Lahayville, the town
it on this side of the Moselle did not at- seen to the left of Richecourt, promptly
tack until the second day of the offensive. fell to the 1st Division while St. Baussant,
the large village seen to the front, was
German Communication Trench Between captured by the 42d Division.
Montsec and Richecourt Before noon the 1st Division had cap-
tured Nonsard, the nearest village to the
left front, and by night was advancing in
the large wood seen to the left of and be-
yo n d t h a t v i l l a g e . T h e 4 2 d D iv i s i o n
seized Pannes, seen to the right of Non-
sard, and advanced several miles beyond
it while the 89th Division reached a line
near Thiaucourt, which town can be seen
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 125

Panorama Looking North From Montsec

to the left front on a clear day. The 2d withdrawal and the laying waste of the
Division captured Thiaucourt and the 5th country in the salient were completely
captured Viéville-en-Haye, the village frustrated, however, by the suddenness
seen some distance to the right of Thiau- and strength of the American attack.
court just below the sky line in an open As a result of this offensive a large
space between two large woods. number of prisoners and great quantities
Go to space between first columns on of matériel and supplies were captured,
opposite side of the steps. and several important roads and railroads
The village seen to the front on the south of Verdun were released for Allied
nose of the hill is Hattonchâtel. About use. The successful conclusion of the op-
dawn on September 13 patrols of the 1st eration had a marked adverse psycho-
Division met the advanced elements of logical effect upon the enemy and greatly
the 26th Division below that place, thus improved the morale of the Allies.
actually closing the salient. Before leaving this spot the tourist
During September 13 the advance was should step to the right and from the
continued with the right of the 90th and space between the next columns note the
the 82d Division on this side of the Moselle St. Mihiel American Cemetery near
R ive r j o i n i n g i n t h e a t t a c k . B y l a t e Thiaucourt, identif ied by its white stone
evening of the 13th practically every ob- chapel and f ield of white headstones,
jective of the offensive had been secured. which can be seen in the distance on a
On that day this hill and the villages clear day on a line just to the right of the
seen to the left. along the base of the round plaza at the flagpole. At that
heights were evacuated by the Germans. cemeter y are b uried more than 4,000
The main attack terminated on the American soldiers among which are many
13th although during the next three days of those who so gallantly gave their lives in
local operations continued and numerous the battle which has just been described.
small advances were made at various
German Trench Southwest of Montsec
places as the American units attempted
to improve their positions.
The offensive here was launched at a
most propitious moment. The German
High Command had decided to abandon
the St. Mihiel salient so as to shorten the
line held by its forces, and orders had been
issued on September 11 for a gradual and
orderly withdrawal. The plans for this
126 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Within the circle of columns, resting Other interesting features of the upper
upon a stone platfor m decorated with terrace are the insignia of the principal
carvings of military equipment car ried arms and branches of the American forces
by American soldiers, is a large bronze which have been carved on the shields
relief map of the St. Mihiel salient. Upon below the eagles of the pilaster capitals:
it are shown the front lines before and the compass included in the inlaid design
after the American offensives in this of the floor: and the inscription on the
region. By lining up the monument on stone base of the relief map which gives
the map with any feature on the map, a brief record of the accomplishments of
that feature on the g round, if visible, the American Army near here.
will be seen in the distance on the same The dedicatory inscriptions, in French
line and thus can be identif ied. on one side and in English on the other,
To aid the visitor in understanding the are on the large inclined stones at the
militar y operations illustrated by the sides of the steps descending from the
bronze map, and to permit identif ication upper terrace. Included in these inscrip-
by name of the villages shown on it, three tions is a tribute to the friendship and
round porcelain maps of Sèvres manufac- cooperation of the French and American
ture have been placed in the border. Armies during the World War.
The names of the American and French The names on the outside frieze above
units whose brilliant services are com- the columns are those of villages in this
memorated here have been recorded on general region which were captured by
the inside attic wall. The inscription A m e r i c a n t r o o p s . T h e s e p l a c e s wh e n
which appears below them is from the considered as a whole give a good idea
f inal report of the Commander-in-Chief of the large area covered by the American
of the American Expeditionary Forces. combat activities in Alsace and Lorraine.
Close-Up View of St. Mihiel American Memorial
Distant View of American Memorial on Montsec

The coats of arms carved on the stone The Ger man front-line trench ran at
pillars near the flagpole are those of right angles to this road and passed
France and the United States, whose divi- through this point. Near the bottom of
sions fought side by side in this region; the shallow valley ahead was located the
a n d o f A l s a c e a n d L o r r a i n e , t h e t wo A m e r i c a n f r o n t l i n e , t h e i n t e r ve n i n g
French provinces in which occurred the ground being that of no man’s land.
f ighting commemorated by this memorial. Sectors in this vicinity were held for
considerable periods of time by the 1st,
EN ROUTE MONTSEC TO EAST OF
26th, 82d and 89th Divisions before the
SEICHEPREY
concentration for the St. Mihiel attack.
Descend hill to the village of Montsec. The village seen to the front is Seiche-
(34.3 m 55.2 km) In town, turn sharp prey and the wood in the valley to the
right on the descending road. left of it is the Bois de Remières.
(34.8 m 56.0 km) Beyond town, by Early on the morning of April 20 Seiche-
looking to the rear, can be seen the view prey was the scene of a Ger man raid
of Montsec most familiar to the American ag ainst the 26th Division, which was
soldiers who served in this region. then holding this part of the front. The
(36.0 m 57.9 km) Just before reaching Germans placed a heavy “box barrage”
the next sharp RIGHT bend in road, the around Seicheprey and the Bois de
zone of action of the 1st Division during Remières to prevent supporting troops
the main attack is entered. from entering that area. Then, screened
(36.5 m 58.7 km) The next village, by dense fog, about 1,200 picked
Richecourt, was just within the enemy German assault troops, starting from near
front line. The Germans had elaborately here, quickly overran the American front
organized it as a strong point and the lines and entered Seicheprey. They de-
immediate surroundings were a maze of stroyed the dugouts, battalion f irst-aid
trenches and wire entanglements. The station and kitchen, and captured a con-
town itself was completely obliterated by s i d e r a bl e n u m b e r o f p r i s o n e r s . S o o n
Allied shellf ire during the war. thereafter the Germans withdrew from
At the far edge of the town the Rupt de the town and remained most of the day in
Mad is crossed. This small stream, which the American front-line trenches. They
ran obliquely across a considerable part of retired to their own lines shor tly be-
the zone of attack, was a serious obstacle fore an American counterattack could be
to the tanks and transpor tation of the launched to drive them out.
First Ar my until its destroyed bridges Continue.
were replaced by the engineers. (37.4 m 60.2 km) The railroad which is
(36.7 m 59.0 km) Beyond town, at first next crossed is a strategic railroad which
crossroad, continue straight ahead. has been constructed since the war.
(36.8 m 59.2 km) At top of next crest, The ridge seen on the sky line ahead
where a good view to the left front is was the location of the Allied main line
obtained, STOP without leaving the car. of resistance. That position had been
(127)
128 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Panorama Looking North

elaborately prepared for defense by the (38.3 m 61.5 km) In town turn right,
French Army during the preceding years. at first road turn to the left toward Flirey.
(38.1 m 61.3 km) At near edge of next (39.2 m 63.0 km) About 50 yards from
village, Seicheprey, the sector which was the next large wood, STOP.
held by the 42d Division is entered. To the left rear the nearest wood which
In Seicheprey, alongside the church, is a is seen is called the Bois de Remières.
small memorial fountain presented to the Fa c e i t s c e n t e r, wh i c h d i r e c t i o n i s
village by men and women of the State of a p p r ox i m a t e ly n o r t h .
Connecticut. To visit it, turn lo the left in Montsec is visible to the left front.
the town. Time of side trip—3 minutes. From observation posts located near
Fountain at Seicheprey here a large part of the ground within the
Erected by Inhabitants of Connecticut German lines could be seen. In these
posts, which were carefully concealed,
o b s e r ve r s c o n t i n u o u s ly w a t c h e d t h e
enemy positions during daylight hours
and reported at once all signs of unusual
activity. This work was supplemented
by the use of captive balloons stationed
s eve r a l m i l e s i n r e a r o f t h e f o r wa r d
trenches at inter vals along the entire
front. The occupants of these balloons
also studied the hostile positions through
powerful glasses and telephoned immedi-
ately to the ground forces all information
gained. The balloon observer, his help-
ers on the g round, and the protecting
anti-aircraft artillery had to be constantly
on the alert for German airplanes, as a
successful airplane attack on the inflam-
mable balloon invariably caused it to
burst into flames and be destroyed.
A large amount of important informa-
tion was also obtained by the Air Service
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 129

From Stop Near Seicheprey

which periodically sent airplanes over the the front, and in the Bois de la Sonnard.
enemy lines to reconnoiter and to take It drove forward aggressively, however,
photographs of the hostile battle lines. capturing Essey, the f irst village seen
These photographs, when compared with over the right side of the Bois de Re-
others previously taken, gave valuable m i è r e s , about noon, and Pannes, whose
indications of changes in the enemy de- church is seen to the left of Essey, about
fensive organization and in his plans. 2:00 p. m. Lamarche, seen in the dis -
This point is near the enter of the tance to the left of Pannes, was beyond
zone of the IV Cor ps, which attacked on t h e f i r s t d ay ’s o b j e c t ive . I t wa s , h ow -
September 12 with the 1st, 42d and 89th
Divisions in line from left to right. Flare Used at Night to Call for an
Artillery Barrage
The Ger man front line at that time ran
just this side of Richecourt, the second
village between here and Montsec; just
beyond the Bois de Remières; and along
the near edge of the Bois de la Sonnard,
the large wood which is seen to the right
of the Bois de Remières.
The troops here jumped off at 5:00
a. m. in a rain and fog, closely following a
heavy rolling barrage. The 1st Division
promptly captured Richecourt but en-
countered considerable resistance in the
Quar t de Réser ve, the wood seen just
b e yo n d t h e l e f t s i d e o f t h e B o i s d e
Remières. Overcoming this before noon,
it captured Nonsard, the village seen
beyond and to the right of the Quart de
Réserve, and was advancing at dark in
the wood seen beyond that place.
The 42d Division, in front of here, met
stubborn resistance from machine gun
units at St. Baussant, the village seen to
Ruins of Richecourt
The described route passes over the road to the right
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 131

eve r, e n t e r e d by a p a t r o l o f t h e 4 2 d
Division in the after noon and occupied
by the 1st Division that night.
The 89th Division, to the right of here,
advanced rapidly through the large wood,
Bois de Mort-Mare, in front of its jump-
off line and that night established itself
about a mile this side of Béney, the village
seen on a clear day in the distance to the
right of and beyond Essey.
The rapid advance of the IV Corps on
this front made certain the success of the
whole attack of the First Army.
EN ROUTE EAST OF SEICHEPREY TO EAST
OF REGNIÉVILLE
French Monument at Flirey Listing American
(39.7 m 63.8 km) At the next road junc- Units Which Fought in the Vicinity
tion, turn to the left.
Beyond the road junction, the front (42.1 m 67.7 km) Beyond town, at top
trenches of the Allied main line of resist- of f irst crest, was the scene of a strong
ance ran immediately alongside this road German raid early on August 31 against
for the next several miles. the 89th Division, which was then occupy-
(40.8 m 65.3 km) Before reaching the i n g t h i s s e c t o r. T h e G e r m a n s p a s s e d
next village, Flirey, the sector held by the through the American front line between
soldiers of the 89th Division is entered. two regiments, crossed this road and in a
(41.0 m 66.0 km) At entrance to town trench along the right side of it moved in
are seen the embankments of a large rail- the direction the tourist is traveling, at
way bridge which formerly spanned the the same time calling out in English that
road. This bridge was destroyed by the they were from the adjoining American
French Army early in the war. regiment. This r use f ailed to mislead
The 89th Division Headquarters during the American platoon commander, who
the attack was located in dugouts at the Church at Limey
embankment nearest the road.
(41.3 m 66.4 km) In center of town,
on the right is seen a monument erected by
the people of Lorraine to commemorate
the services of the American Army in this
region. On it are listed the American
divisions which fought near here.
(41.4 m 66.6 km) At far edge of town
are seen the ruins of the old village, Flirey
having been rebuilt on a new site.
(41.5 m 66.8 km) To the left of this
road, about 5/4 mile, was the location of a
successful raid made on August 4 by the
82d Division, which occupied this sector
for about one month before the St. Mihiel
offensive. Two companies of the division
penetrated the German lines to a depth
of more than 603 yards, inflicting a num-
ber of casualties on the enemy forces
and capturing three machine guns
before returning to their own trenches.
(131)
Air Photograph of Bridge Near Flirey
The front lines were near top of picture. Note communicating trenches
Dugouts in Rear of the 89th Division Jump-Off Line Near Flirey

View of Flirey on September 13, 1918


134 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Ruins of Remanauville, October 1918

repulsed the raiding party by a coura- (44.5 m 71.5 km) On far side of f irst
geous and well executed defense. The valley, a 2d Division boulder marker, one
Germans were forced to abandon two of of a number erected after the Armistice
their dead within the American lines. by that division on its former battlef ields,
(42.6 m 68.5 km) While approaching is passed near the road.
the next village, Limey, to the left is seen (44.7 m 71.8 km) Near the top of the
a ridge upon which were located jump-off next crest were located the front-line
trenches of the 89th Division. trenches of the 2d Division. They are
(43.5 m 70.0 km) N e a r t h i s s i d e o f still (1937) plainly to be seen.
t h e t ow n , the sector of the 2d Division (45.0 m 72.4 km) The church seen to
before the offensive is entered. the left of the road marks the site of the
(43.8 m 70.5 km) Just before reaching former village of Remenauville which
the far end of Limey, turn sharply to the wa s c o m p l e t e ly d e s t r oye d d u r i n g t h e
left toward Remenauville. wa r. T h a t t ow n wa s j u s t w i t h i n t h e
(43.9 m 70.6 km) Beyond town, to the Ger man front line. On September 12
front is seen Ansoncourt Farm, which was i t wa s c a p t u r e d by t h e 2 d D i v i s i o n
near the boundary line between the zones wh i c h m e t d e t e r m i n e d r e s i s t a n c e i n
of action of the 2d and 89th Divisions. the Bois du Four, the large wood seen to
That farm, which was a strong point the left. After a severe f ight the enemy
in the German lines, was captured by the troops were driven out, and by 1:00 p. m.
89th Division on September 12. During the division had advanced about 5 miles.
the attack on it Second Lieutenant J. (45.2 m 72.7 km) Upon reaching the
Hunter Wickersham of the 89th Division next road junction, turn to the right.
won the Congressional Medal of Honor. (45.4 m 73.0 km) At the bottom of the
Severely wounded in four places by a high- valley the zone of action of the 5th Divi-
explosive shell, and with his right arm sion during the attack is entered.
disabled, he declined aid for himself (45.7 m 13.5 km) At the top of the next
until he had dressed the wounds of his or- hill are seen (1937) traces of the trench
derly, who had been wounded at the same system held by the 5th Division before it
time. Leading his men forward again jumped off for the main attack.
he continued f ighting, using his pistol (45.9 m 73.8 km) The church seen
with his left hand until exhausted from ahead marks the site of Regniéville, which
loss of blood he f inally fell and died. was just within the American lines. The
(134)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 135

town was totally demolished during the of Regniéville; ran along the near slopes
four years of f ighting in this vicinity. of the ridge seen ahead; and continued
At the road junction ahead is a 5th on to the right crossing the Moselle River,
Division marker, one of many erected which is about 5 miles away.
by that division shortly after the Armi- On September 12 the 2d, 5th and the
stice; also a French marker indicating the left of the 90th Division attacked at 5:00
farthest advance of the German forces a. m. and made rapid and deep penetra-
during the last year of the war. tions into the hostile positions.
(46.2 m 74.3 km) Upon reaching the T h e 2 d D iv i s i o n p r o m p t ly c a p t u r e d
road junction, turn to the right. Remenauville and advanced quickly to
The road running to the left at this point the Bois du Four, the wood seen to the
is the most direct route to Thiaucourt. left front, where considerable resistance
(46.7 m 75.1 km) Just before reaching from machine-gun nests was encountered.
the top of the next crest, when a good This was overcome by 7:00 a. m. and
view is obtained to the rear, STOP. Thiaucour t (not visible), 4 miles away
If the growth of trees has obstructed the beyond the right edge of the Bois du
view go off the road or back down hill in order Fo u r, wa s c a p t u r e d a b o u t n o o n . T h e
to obtain the best view possible. 2d Division dug in that night on a position
Face so that the church just passed, north of Thiaucourt, which was one of the
which marks the site of the former village main objectives of the offensive.
of Regniéville is seen to the left front. The 5th Division jumped off from near
The direction which the tourist is now Regniéville and made steady prog ress
facing is approximately north. through the German trenches and thick
This point is close to the center of the wire entanglements on its front. De-
jump-off line of the I Corps. termined resistance from machine guns in
The church which is seen to the left is the wood, Bois de la Rappe, seen fringing
the one passed a short time ago in the the ridge ahead, was overcome about 6:15
former village of Remenauville. a. m. and from then on the advance was
The German front line in this vicinity rapid until that night, when the front line
ran from the observer’s left of Ansoncourt of the 5th Division was established about
Farm, seen beyond and to the right of the 3 miles ahead of this point.
church of Remenauville; included The left of the 90th Division, which
Remenauville; passed on the other side attacked to the right of this point, met
Regniéville in October 1918
90th Division Engineers Repairing Road at Fey-en-Haye, September 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 137

obstinate resistance from machine-gun EN ROUTE EAST OF REGNIÉVILLE TO


nests and snipers in the wood, the treetops NORTH OF PONT-À-MOUSSON
of which can be seen in the distance to the (47.8 m 76.9 km) The next village, Fey-
right front. That resistance was cleared en-Haye, has been rebuilt on a new site.
out during the morning and by 1:30 p. m. The site of the old town, which was de-
the division had reached its objective. stroyed, is about a mile to the left of this
The position consolidated that night was road, on the 90th Division jump-off line.
2 miles from here, at about right angles to (48.9 m 78.6 km) Beyond the town, at
the observer’s line of vision when looking the next crossroad, turn to the left.
in the direction of his right front. The opposing front lines between here
The masses of barbed-wire entangle- and the Meuse River ran about a mile to
ments on this front were very formidable the left of this road. They traversed the

Pont-à-Mousson, October 1918

but the extensive preparations which had Forêt du Bois-le-Prêtre, a dense wood in
been made by the American divisions to which the Germans had established them-
pass through them without loss of time selves early in the war and from which the
proved to be unexpectedly effective. French had made several unsuccessful
The f ighting after September 12 of the attempts to drive them out.
divisions which attacked from this part When the 90th Division took over a sec-
of the front will be discussed later when tor in this vicinity on August 24 the
the area of that f ighting is visited. opposing positions in some places were
On the preceding page is a section only 20 yards apart, each of them being
of a wartime map, scale 1/20,000 (about composed of wide zones of deep trenches,
3’’=1 mile), showing Remenauville and bristling with machine guns in concrete
Regniéville. This map, which is of the emplacements and strongly protected by
type most commonly used by American numerous thick bands of barbed wire.
front-line units, gives a good idea of the (50.0 m 80.5 km) After leaving the
extent of the trench system existing in wood, to the left front across the valley
this region before the American attack. is seen a French World War cemeter y.
(52.5 m 84.5 km) After entering the
town, cross over the railroad tracks.
In center of town, at large plaza with
the arcades, to the right is seen a Renais-
s a n c e f o u n t a i n r e c o n s t r u c t e d by t h e
American Field Service as a memorial to
its war dead. That Ser vice was com-
posed of a number of American ambu-
lance sections, organized in the fall of
1914, and tr uck units, for med in the
spring of 1918. It served with the French
Army both before and after the United
States entered the war, although it was
made part of the American Army in 1917.
(52.5 m 84.5 km) At center of the large
plaza with the arcades, turn to the left
toward Pagny-sur-Moselle.
T h e t o u r n ow g o e s n o r t h d ow n t h e
Moselle valley and for approximately the
next 4 miles follows in the direction of
advance of the American Army.
(54.5 m 87.5 km) B eyo n d t h e t ow n ,
after crossing the railroad, at the f irst
crest where a good view of the hill to the
Memorial Fountain of the American Field front is obtained, STOP.
Service in Pont-à-Mousson Face down the road, which, at this
point, runs approximately north.
The 1st and 2d Divisions held adjoining The Moselle River is to the right in the
sectors near here for a short time in August. valley. The high peak, seen to the right
(50.5 m 81.2 km) While approaching on the other side of it, is Xon Hill.
the next town, Montauville, over it is seen On September 12 the 82d Division was
Mousson Hill, upon which is located the holding a line, astride the river, which ran
village of Mousson. That place served as through this point and included Xon Hill.
an excellent observation point for the Its right connected with the French at
French and American units on this front. Por t-sur-Seille, a town about 6 miles
The ruins of an 11th Century
castle and a church tower, upon
which stands a statue of Joan of
Arc, are visible on the hill.
After passing through Montau-
ville and the adjoining village,
Maidières, the tour enters Pont-
à-Mousson which was captured by
the Germans in 1914. It was re-
taken by French troops shor tly
thereafter and remained in the
hands of the Allies from then on.
Pant-à-Mousson being near the
f r o n t l i n e wa s o f t e n h e av i ly
shelled by the German artillery.
The churches of St. Laurent and
St. Martin are places of interest.

(138)
away to the right rear, and its left joined
the 90th Division, at a point which is
about 1/2 mile to the left of here.
No attack was made on this front on
September 12, the mission of the 82d Di-
vision being to exer t pressure on the
enemy by raiding and patrolling, but not
to make a per manent advance. At this
par ticular place, in car r ying out this
mission, an enemy strong point at the
house seen down the road was raided.
On September 13 the 90th Division was
ordered to advance its right about 1 mile
and the 82d was directed to protect its
f l a n k . T h e 9 0 t h D iv i s i o n a t t a c ke d a t
9:30 a. m., drove the enemy in deter-
mined f ighting out of the woods and quar-
ries in its zone of action and by 5:00 p. m.
had reached its objective which it held in
spite of a severe gas and high explosive
b o m b a r d m e n t . T h e 8 2 d D iv i s i o n a t -
tacked alter dark, advanced across the
valley ahead under heavy hostile f ire from
the other side of the Moselle and reached
a line just beyond the crest of Hill 324, German Front-Line Trench and Barbed Wire
seen ahead. Its position was then abreast Near Fey-en-Haye, September 1918
of the line of the 90th Division.
On the 15th the 90th again drove for-
ward, early in the morning, and advanced position alongside that of the 90th. The
to a ridge 1 1/2 miles farther on. Shortly ground held by the 82d Division was ex-
after noon the 82d passed through Vandi- posed to artillery f ire from the north and
ères, about 2 miles down this road, to a from across the river so, after many cas-
ualties, it was given up. Vandi-
Light Tank Manned by Americans Crossing a ères will be passed through and
Trench During the St. Mihiel Operation the position just mentioned will
be seen later in the tour.
One of the outstanding deeds
of daring in the f ighting near here
was that of Lieutenant Colonel
Emory J. Pike, 82d Division, on
the far slopes of Hill 324. Going
beyond the call of his own duties
a division machine gun off icer he
volunteered to assist in reorganiz-
ing advanced units under a terrif ic
bombardment. Although seri-
ously wounded while going to the
aid of an injured soldier in the
outpost line he continued in
command and remained in the
position until it was prepared
for defense, encouraging everyone
(139)
90th Division Detachment Coming Out of Line Near Vilcey-sur-Trey
September 15, 1918

with his cheerful spirit, courage and con- (55.2 m 88.8 km) Up the valley leading
f idence. This gallant soldier died from to the left is seen Norroy, which was occu-
his wounds. For his heroic actions in this pied by troops of the 82d Division during
f ighting he was posthumously awarded the evening of September 13.
the Congressional Medal of Honor. The next village, Vandières, was cap-
On September 18 that part of the 82d tured by the 82d Division on September
Division on this side of the river was re- 15. Due to intense hostile artillery f ire
lieved by the 90th Division and on the the division withdrew from the village
20th the remainder of the division was early the next day. The 90th Division,
replaced in the line by French troops. after relieving the 82d on September 18,
On October 9 the 92d Division took advanced its front line beyond the town.
over a sector just beyond the Moselle (56.7 m 91.2 km) In Vandières, turn to
River and on October 26 its front was the left toward Villers-sous-Prény.
extended for a short distance on this side. The tour turns west at this point and
On November 10 the division attacked from now on runs generally across the zone
and captured the Bois Fréhaut, the wood- of action of the American First Army.
ed area seen to the left of Xon Hill, held
it under heavy bombardment and made American Off icers at a Captured German Canteen,
other minor gains farther to the right. Nonsard, September 13, 1918
In the region of the Vosges Mountains,
lying to the right rear from here, many
American divisions had their f irst service
in the battle lines. The nature of that
country was such that large operations
were practically impossible, and the sec-
tors there were ordinarily held by tired or
newly for med divisions. (See Chapter
VII for information of that region.)
EN ROUTE NORTH OF PONT-À-MOUSSON
TO SOUTHEAST OF THIAUCOURT
(55.0 m 88.5 km) Upon reaching the road
fork on the next low crest, bear right.

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Light Railway Operated by the American Army, Moving Civilian Property From
the Vicinity of the Front Line

(57.1 m 91.9 km) Beyond town, leading (58.3 m 93.7 km) Some distance far-
up from the right of the road, are the ther on to the right is seen a high wooded
slopes of the hill captured by the 82d ridge, captured on September 15 by the
D iv i s i o n o n S e p t e m b e r 1 5 , a n d f r o m 90th Division. In the Bois des Rappes,
which it later withdrew because of intense the dense wooded area on its summit,
hostile artillery bombardments. considerable f ighting occurred.
(57.6 m 92.7 km) At next group of farm (58.7 m 94.4 km) Continue through
buildings seen to the left near the road, the village of Villers-sous-Prény.
the zone of action of the 90th Division The valley which the road now follows
during the attack is entered. received a continuous bombardment of
The high bald ridge with the irregular gas and high explosive shells after its
crest seen to the left is Hill 324, which capture on September 15, from German
wa s m e n t i o n e d a t t h e l a s t s t o p . T h e batteries on the hills seen to the rear
v i l l a g e o f N o r r oy i s l o c a t e d j u s t t h e beyond the Moselle River. On account
other side of it. The front line of the 82d of this shelling it received the name of
Division on both September 13 and 14 the “Valley of Death” from the American
was just beyond the crest of that ridge. soldiers who served near here.
(59.4 m 95.6 km) While approaching
Road Work the next village, Vilcey-sur-Trey to the
The silk hat was found in Thiaucourt right front is seen the edge of the wood,
Forêt des Venchères, along which the
90th Division line rested on September
13. That line crossed this road at right
angles just this side of the town.
(60.1 m 96.8 km) Continue through
the village of Vilcey-sur-Trey.
(61.0 m 98.1 km) In the large wood,
Forêt des Venchères, next entered, the
90th Division encountered stubborn re-
sistance from the Ger mans who were
driven out of it on September 13.
In this wood was located a large Ger-
man rest camp for troops waiting to enter

(141)
142 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

the front lines. Hundreds of huts had The village seen ahead is Viéville-en-
been constructed under the trees, where Haye, one of the objectives of the I Corps
they were concealed from the view of in the St. Mihiel offensive. In an attack
hostile aviators, and many facilities for launched from the edge of the wood, Bois
the comfort of the soldiers were provided. de St. Claude, seen to the left, the 5th
(61.1 m 98.3 km) On the far side of the Division captured that town about noon
small valley which the road follows was on September 12. Its front line was then
located the front line of the 90th Division established about a mile to the right of
on the evening of September 12. this road and included the Bois Gérard,
(62.1 m 99.9 km) After leaving wood, located just over the ridge seen to the
just before reaching sharp bend in road, right. The upper parts of several of the
the front line of the 5th Division on the highest trees of that wood can be seen
f irst day of the attack is crossed. It ran topping the ridge to the right front.
almost at right angles to the road and at Due to this deep penetration by the 5th
this point faced in the direction opposite Division, parts of two fresh German di-
to that which the tourist is traveling. visions were put into the line on this front.
(62.4 m 100.4 km) Beyond bend, at These launched a strong counterattack
the first crest, STOP without leaving car. on the afternoon of September 13 and
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 143

although small hostile units succeeded in (63.9 m 102.8 km) Near first pronounced
entering the Bois Gérard, the division line LEFT bend in road, the zone of action of
at midnight was not materially changed. the 2d Division is entered.
On the 14th the 5th Division once again (64.1 m 103.1 km) In the wood, Bois
attacked and after severe f ighting, during d’Heiche, seen to the right, taken by the
which another German counterattack was 2d Division about 9:30 a. m. on Septem-
repulsed, advanced its line a mile in the ber 12, a large number of prisoners and
left part of its zone of action and approxi- great quantities of supplies were captured.
mately 800 yards in the right part. (64.2 m 103.3 km) Upon approaching the
During September 15 and 16 further next crossroad, to the left front can be
f ighting occur red but the division line seen (1937) the remains of a German con-
remained practically unchanged except on crete machine-gun emplacement.
its extreme right where an advance of In a building, called Loge Mangin, near
approximately 800 yards was made. the edge of the wood seen to the left front,
Its mission having been eff iciently ac- the 2d Division Headquarters was estab-
complished the 5th Division was relieved lished on September 12. When that
on September 17 by the 78th Division. division was relieved from this front the
Continue. building was used as the 78th Division
(62.8 m 101.0 km) Straight through Headquarters until October 5.
the village of Viéville-en-Haye. (64.4 m 103.5 km) Upon reaching the
( 6 3 . 1 m 1 0 1 . 5 k m ) B eyo n d v i l l a ge next crossroad, turn to the right.
cemetery, to the right front on the sky line (64.5 m 103.8 km) Beyond crossroad,
is seen the American monument on to the left is seen the large wood, Bois du
Montsec hill, visited earlier in the tour. Beau Vallon, taken by troops of the 2d

No Man’s Land Along Southern Face of St. Mihiel Salient


Shows character of the terrain advanced over
Thiaucourt Being Shelled by the Germans After
Its Capture by the 2d Division

and 89th Divisions on the morning of the that direction; and to the left of it,
f irst day of the offensive of September 12. str ung along the forward slopes of the
(65.3 m 105.1 km) At the next road conf ining heights, are the villages of
crossing, turn to the right. Vigneulles, Heudicourt, Buxières, Bux-
(65.4 m 105.3 km) Immediately be- erulles and Woinville which were passed
yond the next crossroad, STOP. through earlier in the tour.
Face down the road, which direction is The observer is near the middle of the
approximately northwest. 2d Division zone of action. That division
From this point an a clear day may be reached this vicinity about 9:00 a. m.
seen to the left and left front a wonderful o n S e p t e m b e r 1 2 a n d by e a r ly a f t e r-
panorama of the Woëvre Plain over which noon had captured Thiaucourt, the town
the American troops advanced. seen in the valley ahead, and had estab-
To t h e l e f t i n t h e d i s t a n c e i s s e e n lished its line on the Army objective about
M o n t s e c , c r ow n e d b y t h e A m e r i c a n 2 miles to the right front from here. Later
monument, with the village of Montsec in the afternoon the division repulsed two
a t i t s b a s e . T h e j u m p - o ff l i n e o f t h e strong hostile counterattacks.
main attack on September 12 was ap- Thiaucourt was an important point in
proximately parallel to the observer’s line the German supply system, and with its
of sight when facing Montsec and about capture there fell into American hands
3 miles to the left of that line. Between 11 f ield guns loaded on railroad cars,
here and the hill of Montsec the line of numerous empty railway ears, and vast
vision cuts directly across part of the quantities of food, lumber and military
zone of action of the 2d Division and supplies and equipment of all kinds.
through the zones of action of the 89th, The St. Mihiel American Cemeter y,
42d and 1st Divisions in that order. identif ied by its white chapel and f ield of
To the left front Hattonchâtel with its white headstones, can be plainly seen
picturesque château is plainly visible just to the left of and beyond Thiaucourt.
below the sky line, perched on one of the The 89th Division drove forward on
prominent heights which rim the plain in September 12 through the wooded areas

(144)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 145

in front of its jump-off line and about The 2d Division was relieved from the
noon captured Euvezin, identif ied by the line on September 16 by the 78th. The
nearest building between here and Mont- 89th Division remained on this front
s e c . L a t e r i n t h e d ay i t c a p t u r e d t h e until October 7 when it was relieved
ground upon which the American ceme- by the 37th. Both divisions had bril-
ter y now stands. It dug in that night liantly performed their battle assignments.
with its front line running near the right
edge of the present cemetery area. EN ROUTE SOUTHEAST OF THIAUCOURT
The prominent church tower with the TO ST. MIHIEL AMERICAN CEMETERY
slate colored roof, seen some distance to
the right of Euvezin, is in Pannes which (65.9 m 106.0 km) While approaching
lay within the zone of action of the 42d Thiaucourt, along the right side of the
Division and was captured by it early in road is seen a German military cemetery.
the afternoon on September 12. Thiaucour t is well known to troops of
Slightly to the right of and beyond the the 7th, 28th, 37th, 78th and 89th
church tower in Pannes is seen the church Divisions, which served in the line north
s t e e p l e o f N o n s a r d . T h a t v i l l a g e l ay of it at various times between September
within the zone of action of the 1st Divi- 16 and the Armistice. It was subjected
sion and was taken by it about noon on to heavy German shelling soon after its
the f irst day of the attack. capture by the Americans.
On September 13 the 89th Division ( 6 6 . 6 m 1 0 7 . 2 k m ) I n t ow n , c ro s s
captured the Bois de Xammes which can right-hand bridge over the Rupt de Mad.
be seen on the sky line immediately above (66.8 m 107.5 km) Near the church,
and beyond the church steeple in Thiau- passed on the left, is the village monu-
court, and the 2d Division drove forward ment upon which are named the Ameri-
in the direction of the observer’s right can units that fought in this vicinity dur-
front for approximately three fourths of a ing the St. Mihiel offensive.
mile in the right of its zone of action. (66.9 m 107.6 km) At the small monu-
During the 14th and 15th, the 2d Divi- ment farther on, bear to the left.
sion pushed strong reconnaissance pa- (67.1 m 108.0 km) At far edge of town
trols to the front and or, the 15th several the zone of action of the 89th Division
hostile counterattacks were broken up. during the attack is entered.
The division line was advanced slightly (67.5 m 108.5 km) Beyond town, at the
along all of its front during these days. large cemetery at left of road, STOP.

Street in Thiaucourt After the German Bombardment


General View of the St. Mihiel American Cemetery
Entrance, St. Mihiel Cemetery

This is the St. Mihiel American Ceme- come when the trees and shrubbery have
tery. It is the third largest of the eight reached their full g rowth. In time the
American military cemeteries in Europe cemetery will be sheltered on all sides by
and contains 4,152 graves. Most of the masses of vegetation outside the stone
men buried here gave their lives in the wa l l s , a n d t h e m a i n p a t h s w i l l p a s s
St. Mihiel offensive. The majority of through leafy canopies formed by over-
the others died while serving in sectors in hanging boughs of the trees along them.
this region or in the divisional training The white marble headstones, which
areas which were located to the southwest. are the same in all the American military
The architecture of the cemeter y is cemeteries in Europe, are of a cross design
classic in design and the entire develop- for those of the Christian f aith and a
ment has been made along formal lines. six-pointed star design for those of the
A harmonious and beautiful effect has Jewish f aith. The changing beauty of
thus been obtained which can not fail to these f ields of crosses when seen at various
impress the visitor from America with times throughout the day and in different
the f itness of this as a f inal resting place lights is unusually impressive.
for these gallant soldier dead. At the center of the cemetery is a
The formal entrance, with its gem-like large sundial of attractive design sur-
pavilions and ornamental black and gilded rounded by beautiful beds of flowers.
grill fence, is of striking beauty. Through Carved around the top of its base appears
it an excellent view of the cemetery can the prophetic inscription “TIME WILL NOT
be obtained from the main highway. DIM THE GLORY OF THEIR DEEDS.”
As the cemetery is entered, the pavilion From this point the beautiful perspec-
to the right contains the superintendent’s tives along the cross axes of the cemetery
off ice. Inquiries concerning the location catch the eye. Between the trees and
of a particular grave or requests for other flower beds along one axis is seen a small
information should be made there. The monument depicting a typical American
p av i l i o n t o t h e l e f t c o n t a i n s a we l l - soldier in his wartime uniform, standing
appointed reception room and other in front of a stone cross. Behind this and
facilities for the convenience of visitors. framing it is a stone hemicycle intended
Although the flower beds and roses and ultimately to be set off by a high square-
the large green lawns which carpet the trimmed tree hedge. At the end of the
grave areas are now in their f inal beauty, other axis there is seen an ornamental urn
visitors during the next few years will on a semicircular platform from which a
have to draw upon their imaginations to f i n e v i ew o f T h i a u c o u r t a n d t h e t e r-
visualize the g reater beauty that will rain in that direction may be obtained.

(147)
Sundial at St. Mihiel American Cemetery Near Thiaucourt
Note American Memorial on Montsec in the distance
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 149

From the center of the cemetery there


is a splendid view of the chapel, a build-
ing of great simplicity and dignity, which
has been built of f ine white stone.
The two flags flying in front of the
chapel bring a feeling of patriotism to
American visitors and a sense of gratif ica-
tion that the brave men who rest here will
always sleep beneath their country’s flag.
C a r ve d i n s c r i p t i o n s i n F r e n c h a n d
English on the front of the chapel state
that it has been dedicated “TO THOSE
WHO DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY”, and this
thought has been repeated in the main
inscription inside the peristyle which
reads: “THIS CHAPEL HAS BEEN ERECTED
BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERlCA IN
GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF HER SONS
WHO DIED IN THE WORLD WAR.”
These words, carved in stone, emphasize
the f act that the chapel stands not to
commemorate the glory of battles won
nor the triumph of victory achieved, but
as a direct tribute of America to those who
made the supreme sacrif ice for it.
T h e l a rg e r o s e - g r a n i t e u r n w i t h i t s
carved drapery at the center of the peri-
style recalls to mind an ancient funereal
vase. One of the decorative features on
it is a winged horse, which is intended to
symbolize the flight of the immortal soul
to its resting place in the life beyond.
The bronze door to the left, decorated View at St. Mihiel Cemetery Chapel
w i t h s t a r s a n d t wo m i n i a t u r e b r o n z e
soldier heads, leads to the impressive room upon the end walls of which are re-
int e r i o r o f t h e c h a p e l . A s t h e v i s i t o r corded, in carved and gilded letters on
e n ters, his attention is f irst attracted to black marble panels, the names of all
the car ved, ivory-tinted altar, with its American soldiers who are carried on the
beautiful cross and the rich mosaic above rolls as missing in the operations in this
i t , p o r t r ay i n g a n a n g e l s h e a t h i n g h i s v i c i n i t y. T h e wa l l o p p o s i t e t h e d o o r
sword. The mosaics on the end walls d i s p l ay s a n i n l a i d m a r bl e m a p , t o a
have as their main features large shields scale of 1/10,000, upon which the ground
d i s p l ay i n g t h e n a t i o n a l c o l o r s o f t h e g a i n e d by t h e A m e r i c a n d iv i s i o n s i s
United States and of France. shown in various colored marbles.
The coffered ceiling is decorated in gold Behind the chapel, cor responding in
and blue, while the floor and lower wall- position to the flagpoles in front, are two
paneling are of inlaid marble with light weeping willows and f illing the four
and dark green markings. Disposed cor ners of the chapel ter race are large
about the chapel in appropriate places are masses of trimmed evergreen trees.
graceful candelabra and bronze-decorated Fr o m t h e r e a r o f t h e p e r i s t y l e , t h e
seats and kneeling-benches. American monument on Montsec is plainly
On the other side of the peristyle is a visible in the distance on a clear day.
150 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

EN ROUT ST. MIHIEL AMERICAN village the zone of action of the 42d Di-
CEMETERY TO WEST OF WOËL vision during the attack is entered.
(69.1 m 111.2 km) Beyond town, to the
From this cemeter y the tour follows left is seen the wood, Bois de Thiaucourt,
the main road to Verdun. For most of near the left end of which, approximately
the distance to Haudiomont, 20 miles parallel to this road, was located the front
away, the front line held by the Ameri- line held by troops of the 42d Division on
can troops at the end of the war lay gen- the evening of September 12.
erally from 1 to 3 miles to the right of (69.6 m 111.9 km) To the left front is
and approximately parallel to this road. seen the Bois de Béney, at the near edge
(67.8 m 109.1 km) Beyond first crest, to of which during most of the war the Ger-
the right, the nearest village is Xammes, mans maintained and flew an observation
which was close to the f inal objective of balloon. In that wood was captured a
the First Army in the St. Mihiel offensive. large German supply depot.
It was occupied by the 89th Division (70.9 m 114.0 km) While approaching
early an the morning of September 13. the next village, St. Benoît, in its right
On September 16 the front line of the edge is seen a chateau where a brigade
First Army was established about a mile headquarters of the 42d Division was
beyond Xammes. It was located there located after the capture of the town on
when the American Second Army took September 13. Several times after that
over this front on October 12. date it was heavily shelled.
(68.2 m 109.7 km) To the left front, (71.4 m 114.9 km) Continue through
in the distance, Montsec is clearly visible. the village of St. Benoît.
(68.5 m 110.2 km) Continue through As part of a general forward movement
Béney, which was captured before dawn of the 42d Division early on September
on September 13 by the 89th Division. 13, one of its battalions drove out small
(69.0 m 110.9 km) At far edge of the hostile units in the woods near this road,

A Battalion Headquarters of the 89th Division Near Béney,


September 16, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 151

42d Division Patrol Near Hassavant Farm,


September 14, 1918

c a p t u r e d H a s s a v a n t Fa r m , t h e n e x t patrolling, with an occasional raid into


group of buildings, organized a position the German lines to f ind out information
beyond the far m, and sent patrols still concerning the dispositions of their troops
far ther along down the road. and their future plans of action.
The 42d Division was relieved by the On September 26, when the Meuse-
89th Division during October 1. Argonne operation began, the troops here
(73.0 m 117.5 km) At Hassavant Farm, were ordered to make demonstrations
to the left is seen Hattonchâtel which was with the idea of confusing the enemy as
visited earlier in the tour. In the area to the exact point of the American attack.
to the left of that place the 1st Division Consequently, artiller y bombardments
was assembled on September 14, having lasting as long as nine hours were laid
been pinched out of the front line due to down and strong patrols were sent to
the meeting of the two forces advancing attack the enemy lines. These maneu-
from the sides of the salient. Its move- vers served to hold the German reserves
ment to the Meuse-Argonne region was behind this front much longer than
started from there on September 20. would otherwise have been the case.
(76.1 m 122.4 km) Continue through On October 12 the American Second
next village, Woël, which was occupied by Army took command of this part of the
a French division on September 14. front. Its sector extended from Por t-
(77.0 m 123.9 km) Beyond town, at far sur-Seille, on the other side of the Moselle
side of crest where the next village, Don- River, to Fresnes-en-Woëvre, about 5
court, comes in full view, STOP. miles to the left from here. The front
Face to the right, which direction is line at that time was practically in the
approximately northeast. same place as it was at the termination
After September 16 this par t of the of the main St. Mihiel attack.
front became stabilized and the activities Comparatively little activity occurred
here from then on were mainly those of on this front during the month of October.
Crossroads at St. Hilaire

Early in November the Allied attacks, front line had been advanced to include
covering almost the entire front from the the large wood, seen to the right front;
Meuse River to the North Sea, produced the f irst wood, Bois de Warville, seen to
g r e a t d i s o rg a n i z a t i o n i n t h e G e r m a n the left front; and St. Hilaire, the village
forces. The Second Army was therefore whose church steeple may be seen at cer-
ordered to keep close watch of the enemy tain seasons of the year beyond Doncourt.
for any indications of a withdrawal. Jonville, whose church is seen to the
At that time the Second Army front was front, was never captured although the
h e l d, i n o r d e r f r o m r i g h t t o l e f t , by ground between here and that village was
t h e V I C o r p s w i t h t h e 9 2 d D iv i s i o n i n the scene of numerous severe combats.
line, the IV Corps with 7th and 28th
EN ROUTE WEST OF WOËL TO EAST OF
in line, and the French XVII Cor ps with
HAUDIOMONT
the American 33d Division in line.
The 33d Division held this par t of the (77.5 m 124.7 km) Straight through
front and its sector included the towns of the village of Doncourt.
Woël, seen to the right; the far edge of The 79th Division held a sector in this
Doncourt; and Wadonville, seen to the vicinity during most of the month of Octo-
left of and beyond Doncourt. ber. It was relieved by the 33d Division
The nearest part of the sector held by which assumed command on October 26.
the 28th Division was at the woods seen (79.1 m 127.3 km) The next village, St.
in the distance to the right. Hilaire, was occupied on September 13
On November 9, while the Armistice by a French division and was taken over
negotiations were in prog ress, urgent from it by the 26th Division on the same
orders were issued by Marshal Foch, the day. It was abandoned on September 15,
Allied Commander-in-Chief, directing after an enemy attack had been repulsed,
that the enemy be pushed all along the because by its retention a sharp salient
Western Front and that he be given no was created in the American line.
time to rest or reorganize his troops. T h e t ow n w a s r a i d e d by A m e r i c a n
In car rying out these instructions all troops a number of times before its cap-
divisions on this front, following some ture on November 10 by the 33d Division.
local operations on November 9, launched The front line at the time of the Armistice
attacks on November 10 and 11 in the was near the far edge of the village.
general direction the observer is facing. (80.3 m 129.2 km) The next village,
This American offensive is generally re- Marchéville , had been elaborately or-
ferred to as the Woëvre Plain operation. ganized for defense by the Germans before
These attacks resulted in substantial September 1918. After the salient was
gains and by the time of the Armistice the eliminated the village was strongly held

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 153

by German troops and was the scene of Division advanced it 3/4 mile to the right
much vicious f ighting until November 11. of the road which the tourist is following.
On September 26, as part of the demon- (83.2 m 133.9 km) Beyond town, about
stration on this front at the time of the 500 yards, was located the boundar y
opening of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, between the American First and Second
a battalion of the 26th Division made an Armies at the close of hostilities.
attack against the town and entered it at (84.5 m 136.0 km) At next road junction
9:00 a. m. after stubbor n f ighting; a is seen a monument erected by the 4th
c o u n t e r a t t a c k by a G e r m a n u n i t wa s Division after the Armistice.
b e a t e n o ff a b o u t n o o n , a n d t h e t ow n (84.7 m 136.3 km) Continue through
changed hands four times before the next village, Manheulles, captured by
troops of the 26th Division were ordered the 4th Division on September 14.
to withdraw that evening. During October and the early par t of
On November 10 the village was at- November it was just within the Ameri-
tacked in force by the 33d Division which can lines. Its exposed location made it
inflicted heavy losses in overcoming the subject to frequent and intense bombard-
stubborn resistance of the enemy. Sharp ments from hostile artillery.
hostile counterattacks from the front and (85.5 m 137.5 km) Beyond town, just
flanks and heavy artillery f ire caused a beyond second bend in road, before
withdrawal to the higher ground seen to reaching the railroad, STOP.
the left of the village. On November 11 Face down the road, which direction is
another attack was launched and f ighting approximately west.
was going on in the streets when notif ica- O n N ove m b e r 7 t h e 8 1 s t D i v i s i o n
tion of the Armistice was received. relieved the 35th on a line which ran
(80.9 m 130.2 km) Beyond town, at along the edge of the heights seen ahead.
the road fork, bear to the right. It was at that time the right flank division
(82.3 m 132.4 km) While approaching belonging to the American First Army.
the next town, Fresnes-en-Woëvre, on On November 9 the division attacked
the right are seen (1937) several concrete as par t of the general forward move-
machine-gun emplacements which were ment on this front. It advanced to the
part of one of the main German defensive right of this road well into the wood,
lines which ran near here. Bois de Manheulles, seen in that direc-
(82.8 m 133.2 km) Straight through tion. Only two isolated groups, however,
Fresnes-en-Woëvre, captured on Septem- remained in the wood during the night.
ber 14 by the 4th Division. The front The smaller of these withdrew about
line remained near this town until the 10:00 a. m. the next day to the road on
morning of November 11 when the 33d wh i c h t h e o b s e r ve r i s s t a n d i n g . T h e
On Front of 81st Division Near Manheulles, November 10, 1918
154 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Troops of the 81st Division in Manheulles, November 10, 1918

other g roup, a company, was attacked the American Army was postponed be-
by the Germans early on the morning of cause of the great demand for divisions
the 10th and about half of its men were to meet critical situations created on
captured. The remnants, however, about other parts of the front by the successful
40 men, bravely fought their way back to German offensives at that time.
the American position at Haudiomont, Early in August of that year the situa-
which is the village seen ahead. tion became such that General Pershing
No attack was made here on November felt free to insist that the creation of an
10 but on the 11th the 81st Division met American army be no longer delayed. As
resistance in its efforts to advance in the a result the First Army was formed and
Bois de Manheulles. Its front line was took over on August 30 all of the front
in the wood at the time of the Armistice. line around the St. Mihiel salient.
About 4 miles to the right front from The original plans for the attack pro-
here the left of the 81st Division made vided for exploiting toward Metz and the
successive advances during November 9, Briey iron region if the situation became
10 and 11, for a total gain of about 3 miles. favorable. These plans, however, were
✛ Captured Burros Carrying Water Near
Haudiomont, November 1918
As this is the last stop on the tour, a
brief summar y of the events connected
with the reduction of the St. Mihiel
salient will serve to f ix them more
def initely in the mind of the reader.
S h o r t ly a f t e r t h e A m e r i c a n E x p e d i -
tionar y Farces reached France in 1917
General Pershing decided that the Amer-
ican Army should be built up and enter
the battle line in this region, and that the
reduction of the St. Mihiel salient should
be its f irst major operation of the war.
In the spring of 1918 the formation of
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 155

depressed, as the superb f ighting qualities


of the American soldier had again been
demonstrated and the American high com-
manders and their staffs had successfully
p r ove d t h e i r a b i l i t y t o c o n d u c t l a rg e
operations, an ability previously doubted
by the German. The Allies were greatly
encouraged and all Americans mere elated
at the victory, which was far more rapid
and clear-cut than even the most opti-
mistic had a right to expect.
Before leaving this stop the speedometer
reading should be noted.
Effect of a Direct Hit on a German
Concrete Shelter EN ROUTE EAST OF HAUDIOMONT
TO VERDUN
changed in order to f it in with those for (86.5 m 139.1 km) Straight through
an offensive in the Meuse-Argonne region the village of Haudiomont.
and it was f inally decided that the St. (87.0 m 139.9 km) Beyond town, while
Mihiel operation should be limited merely ascending hill, to the rear may be seen
to the reduction of the salient. a f ine view of the Woëvre Plain.
After almost superhuman efforts on the (90.7 m 145.9 km) 5.2 miles (8.4 kilo-
part of all concerned the First Army was meters) from the last stop; at top of hill
in place on this front ready to attack early where Fort du Rozellier is to the right of
on the morning of September 12. the road; to the right front on a clear day
The main attack was car ried through may be seen the shaft of the Meuse-
with dash and precision and ended on the Argonne American Memorial at Mont-
eve n i n g o f S e p t e m b e r 1 3 , a l l m a j o r faucon, approximately 18 miles away.
objectives having been gained. (96.1 m 154.6 km) Continue to the Vic-
The effect upon morale of this striking tory monument in the center of Verdun.
victory of the American Army in its ini- Verdun is the starting point for the tour
tial major offensive is almost beyond of the American battlefields in the Meuse-
evaluation. The Ger mans were greatly Argonne region described in Chapter IV.

German Command Post at Manheulles Captured by the 4th Division on September 14, 1918
ADDITIONAL PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

I N addition to the places whose World


War history has been described in the
itinerar y, there are a number of other
mentioned. At those indicated by a star
on the sketch and in the text there is some
interesting object such as a memorial,
places in the St. Mihiel region where ancient ruins or outstanding World War
interesting war events occur red, where feature in a good state of preservation.
there now exist features of special interest, Abaucourt. Captured on November 10
or which are of suff icient importance in by the 81st Division after severe f ighting.
pre-World War history to warrant special Ancemont. Location of V Corps Head-
mention. For reference pur poses and for quarters, September 10–16.
the benef it of the tourist who travels in A n s a u v i l l e . L o c a t i o n o f 4 2 d D i v.
the area not on the described route, these Headquarters, September 9–14.
places and parts of their histor y have Apremont. This village, just within
been recorded on the following pages. the German front lines, was completely
The sketch which appears on this page d e m o l i s h e d by Fr e n c h a n d A m e r i c a n
shows the general location of the places artillery f ire. In town, near the church,

(156)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 157

Allied Prisoners Returning to American Lines at Abaucourt,


November 13, 1918

is a memorial fountain to the American the Germans had an important aviation


soldiers who fell at Apremont, donated f ield and a group of barracks. The wood
by the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts. was occupied during September 13 by the
Beaumont. 1st Div. Hdqrs., Sept. 11–13. troops of the 42d and 89th Divisions.
Belrupt. 81st Div. Hdqrs., Nov. 9–11. Bois de Dommartin. Located about
Billy-sous-les-Côtes. While alone on 600 yards in front of the American lines
a voluntary air patrol near this place on after the St. Mihiel operation, this little
September 25, First Lieutenant Edward wood was the scene of many small but
V. Rickenbacker, Air Service, encoun- bitter f ights in which at different times
tered a hostile formation of seven planes. the 89th, 37th and 28th Divisions, in that
Disregarding the odds against him he order, participated. It was occupied by
dived on them and shot one down out of the 28th Division on November 10 and
control. He then attacked a second which held until after the Armistice.
was likewise shot down. For this con- Bois de Grande Fontaine . Scene of
spicuous gallantry and intrepidity above severe local f ighting by the 5th, 78th and
and beyond the call of duty, Lieutenant 7th Divisions at various times from Sep-
Rickenbacker vas later awarded the Con- tember 14 on. During November 1 the
gressional Medal of Honor. southern part of this wood was captured
B o i s d e B a nva u x . T h i s wo o d w a s and held by troops of the 7th Division.
reached by patrols of the 5th Division Bois d’Harville. The 33d Division at-
on September 12. It was the scene of tacked and gained a foothold in this wood
hard f ighting on September 14 when the on November 10 in spite of heavy ma-
Germans were driven from it. chine-gun and artillery f ire. The wood
★ Bois Brulé. Scene of bitter f ighting was abandoned that night, however, be-
between the French and Germans in 1915. cause of hostile gas-shell bombardments.
The 26th Division engaged in severe local Bois Montjoie, about 1/2 mile southeast
combats in the vicinity during April 1918. of Lironville, was the location of the 2d
Many interesting trenches and German Div. Headquarters, September 10–12.
dugouts are being preserved there (1937). Bois de Pannes. The 42d Div. Hdqrs.
Bois de Dampvitoux. Near this wood was located here from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.
158 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

Bois du Rupt. A counterattack of the the occupants. Some 300 Germans


Ger man 31st Division, launched from emerged and Sergeant Adams, although
this wood during the afternoon of Sep- alone and ar med only with an empty
tember 12, was repulsed by the 2d Divi- pistol, made prisoners of them all.
sion, which inflicted heavy losses. The Butgnéville. A 33d Division attack on
wood was occupied by the 2d Division on November 11 made against this village
September 14 and remained in American was repulsed with severe losses.
hands until after the Armistice. Chambley. Site of an important Ger-
Bois du Trou de la Haie. Considerable man ammunition depot.
hard f ighting occur red in this wooded Château d’Aulnois. Captured by the
area both before and after November 1, 33d Division on November 11. It had
on which date the 7th Division established been the objective of active patrolling by
its front line well into it. various American units before then.
Bois de la Voivrotte. The 92d Division C h a u vo n c o u r t . T h i s t ow n , s i t u a t e d
c a p t u r e d t h i s wo o d e a r ly o n N ove m - across the Meuse River from St. Mihiel,
ber 11 and from it launched two attacks and the flat-topped hill near it, were cap-
against Bouxières-sous-Froidmont. tured by the Germans in 1914 and held
Boucq. Location of 26th Div. Hdqrs., as a bridgehead until the American attack
Mar. 31–June 20, and IV Corps Hdqrs. of September 12 forced their evacuation.
for the period Oct. 10 to Nov. 3. Conflans-en-Jarnisy. Headquarters of
B o u i l l o nv i l l e . S e r g e a n t H a r r y J. t h e G e r m a n A r my D e t a c h m e n t “ C ”
Adams, 89th Division, won the Distin- which was holding the St. Mihiel salient.
guished Service Cross in this town for an The town was an important communica-
act of great coolness and daring on Sep- tion center and the objective of many of
tember 12. Discovering a group of Ger- the American aviation bombing raids.
mans in a building he promptly f ired his ★ Dieulouard. In the nor ther n out-
remaining pistol bullets through the door skirts of this town, along the main road,
and demanded the instant sur render of are (1937) the remains of a large concrete

Wartime View of German Support Trenches Near Apremont


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 159

emplacement for an Allied railroad gun.


Dommartin-la-Chaussée. Site of a
large Ger man supply depot. The town
was in the main line of resistance of the
Hindenburg Line. Attempts of the 28th
Division to capture it on November 10
were defeated with considerable losses.
Dommartin-la-Montagne. Fire from
this village halted the advance of the left
units of the 26th Division on September
12. It was captured the next morning.
Essey-et-Maizerais. Location of the
42d Div. Headquarters, Sept. 14–25.
Euvezin. Captured by the 89th Divi-
sion. Before the St. Mihiel offensive a
German artillery camp was located in the
ravine south of the town. The camp was
the 89th Div. Hdqrs., Sept. 14–Oct. 7;
37th Div. Hdqrs., Oct. 7–16: 28th Div.
Hdqrs., Oct. 16–29; and 7th Div. Hdqrs.,
Oct. 30 to after the Armistice.
★ Fort du Camp des Remains. This
for t near St. Mihiel was built by the
French about 1879 upon the site of an old
Roman camp. It was captured in 1914
by the Ger mans and retained by them
until the attack of the American First
Army forced its evacuation. The fort is
not used now and is in ruins.
Château d’ Aulnois, November 1918
Gravelotte. This village was the scene
of an important German victory in 1870
during the France-Prussian War. two different occasions; from October 24
Grimaucourt-en-Woëvre. Captured by to 29, and again from November 9 to 11.
the 81st Division on November 10 but Hill 323, south of Rembercour t-sur-
not held that night. The next day the Mad. This hill was strongly held by the
d iv i s i o n p u s h e d f o r wa r d t h r o u g h t h e Germans following the St. Mihiel offen-
town and about 1 mile beyond it. sive. It was the scene of numerous severe
Hanido Wood and Souleuvre Farm. combats by the 5th, 78th and 7th Divi-
These places were occupied on the after- sions prior to its capture by the latter on
noon of September 12 by the German November 10. Several determined Ger-
Saxon 123d Division which had entered man attempts to retake it were repulsed.
the battle to check the American advance. Ja u l ny. T h i s t ow n wa s c a p t u r e d by
A counterattack by that division from the the 2d Division about 1:00 p. m. on Sep-
wood the next day was repulsed by the tember 12. A German ammunition train
5th Division after severe f ighting. and a completely equipped hospital train
H a u d a i nv i l l e . L o c a t i o n o f 4 t h D iv. were captured there. Because the village
Headquarters, September 9-19. lay beyond the objective of the American
Haumont-lès-Lachaussée. This village Army it was abandoned later in the day.
was lightly held by the Ger mans fol- The Ger mans reoccupied it but on the
lowing the St. Mihiel attack. The 42d, next day the 2d Division again drove
89th and 37th Divisions raided it several them from the town and the American
times and the 28th Division occupied it on lines were then established beyond it.
Learning the Language at Lucey, Near Toul
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 161

Mon Plaisir Farm in the Winter After the Armistice

Jonville . On September 14 a g roup of been a fortress of importance since the


American tanks, operating considerably time of the Romans, who called it Divo-
ahead of the infantry lines, engaged in a d u r u m . T h e c i t y w a s p l u n d e r e d by
severe f ight near this town. Attila the Hun in the 5th Centur y. It
★ Jouy-aux-Arches. At this place there was ceded by France to Germany after
are still standing several arches of a large the War of 1870 and became one of the
aqueduct built by the Romans to bring principal fortif ied places in the German
water across the Moselle River to Metz. line of frontier defenses. It was returned
Le Grand Cognon. This wooded area to France after the World War by the
was captured by the 81st Division on provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
November 10 after a hard f ight. Mon Plaisir Farm. A strongly organ-
Los Eparges. Scene of bitter f ighting ized place in the Hindenburg Line
between the French and Germans in 1914 which was attacked at different times
and 1915. The remains of large mine after the St. Mihiel offensive by the 78th
craters are still (1937) to be seen there. and 7th Divisions. The 28th and 89th
Ligny-en-Barrois. Location of First Divisions sent patrols to it. The far m
Ar my Hdqrs., Aug. 28–Sept. 21. Ad- was still in the hands of the Ger mans
vance G. H. Q., A. E. F., Oct. 2–Dec. 3. when the Ar mistice became effective.
Lucey. 82d Div. Hdqrs., June 27–Aug. Moranville and the Bois de Moranville.
10; 89th Div. Hdqrs., Aug. 10–Sept. 10. These places in the outpost zone of the
Mamey. Location of 90th Div. Hdqrs., Hindenburg Line were captured by the
for the period September 11–19. 81st Division on November 9 in spite of
M a r b a c h e . 2 d D i v. H d q r s . , A u g . determined hostile resistance.
9–19; 82d Div. Hdqrs., Aug. 18~Sept. 20; ★ Nancy. The Kaiser is said to have
and 92d Div. Hdqrs., Oct. 9–Nov. 10. come to view the German attacks north
Marimbois Farm. This far m was in of Nancy at the beginning of the World
Ger man hands at the close of the St. Wa r, ex p e c t i n g t o m a k e a t r i u m p h a l
Mihiel offensive. From September 16 e n t r y i n t o t h e c i t y. A l t h o u g h i t wa s
on patrols of the 42d and, later, of the shelled all attempts to capture the town
8 9 t h a n d 2 8 t h D iv i s i o n s f r e q u e n t l y we r e r e p u l s e d . N a n cy c o n t a i n s m a ny
clashed with the enemy there. It was beautiful buildings and other works of
occupied by the 28th Division on Novem- art. It is well worth a visit.
ber 9 and held until the Armistice. Noviant-aux-Prés. In a dugout along
Ménil-la-Tour. 1st Div. Headquarters, t h e r a i l r o a d n o r t h o f t h i s t ow n wa s
from January 18–April 3, and IV Corps l o c a t e d t h e 8 9 t h D iv. H e a d q u a r t e r s ,
Headquarters, September 10–October 10. for the period September 10 to 12.
★ Metz. This city, which is strategi- Prény. This town, picturesquely situ-
cally located on the Moselle River, has ated on a long ridge in the Hindenburg
St. Mihiel Soon After Its Capture
Note ponton bridge built by American Engineers
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 163

Line, was the objective of frequent raids


by the 90th and 7th Divisions. Many
hand-to-hand f ights took place near it.
The interesting ruins of an ancient forti-
f ied chateau are to be seen there.
Puxieux. An important German avia-
tion f ield and a large munitions depot
were located near this town.
Rembercourt-sur-Mad. This village,
situated in the valley of the Rupt de Mad,
and the wooded heights south of it were
hastily occupied on September 12 by the
German 31st Division which had entered
the battle line to check the American
advance. The German division launched
a counterattack that after noon which
was repulsed by the 2d Division.
Rezonville. Scene of a desperate battle
i n t h e Fr a n c o - P r u s s i a n Wa r o f 1 8 7 0 .
This battle and that of Gravelotte pre-
vented Marshal Bazaine from retreating Searching Prisoners at Headquarters
toward Paris and forced his ar my into 5th Division, St. Jacques Farm,
Metz, where it later surrendered. September 12, 1918
Riaville . Captured by the 33d Divi-
sion on the morning of November 11. near the town are the churches of St.
Etienne and St. Mihiel, and at the
R u p t - e n - Wo ë v re . L o c a t i o n o f 2 6 t h
Division Headquarters, Sept. 6–16. nor ther n edge of the town on the road
St. Jacques Farm, about 1 mile south- to Verdun are located seven g reat rocks
near which have been found many in-
west of Mamey. 5th Division Headquar-
ters during the period, Sept. 10–17. teresting relics of prehistoric man.
★ St. Mihiel. This town, at the tip of T h e 3 7 0 t h I n f a n t r y, 9 3 d D iv i s i o n ,
while attached to the French 34th Divi-
the St. Mihiel salient, gave the salient
i t s n a m e . T h e t ow n wa s c a p t u r e d o n sion had front-line service to the south of
September 24, 1914, by the Germans this town during the month of June 1918.
St. Mihiel–Apremont Road. Alongside
Several thousand French civilians lived
in it during the entire war and for that Off Duty
reason, though near the front line, it was
never heavily bombarded by the Allies.
St. Mihiel was not attacked during the
offensive of September 12 but was hastily
abandoned by the enemy troops when the
American divisions broke through the
battle line on both sides of it. The town
wa s o c c u p i e d o n S e p t e m b e r 1 3 by a
French division attached to the American
First Ar my. Soon after its occupation
the President of the French Republic
sent a message to the United States Gov-
ernment in which he expressed the deep
gratitude of the French nation because of
the restoration to France of that place.
Among the points of interest in or

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164 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

this road are to be seen many interesting face of the St. Mihiel salient. Location
examples of wartime military construc- of 35th Div. Hdqrs., Oct. 15–Nov. 7, and
tion. The large concrete shelter extend- 81st Div. Hdqrs., Nov. 7-9.
ing into the roadway is well worth a visit. To u l . T h i s c i t y wa s t h e A m e r i c a n
It was built by the Germans as a f irst-aid Second Army Headquar ters during the
station. In the wood near by are many entire time that Army served at the front.
other Ger man f ield works constr ucted IV Corps Hdqrs., Aug. 13 to Sept. 10.

during the four years of trench warfare. Troyon-sur-Meuse . Location of 26th


Saizerais. Location of 1st Div. Hdqrs., Div. Hdqrs., Sept. 16–Oct. 8; 79th Div.
Aug. 7–24; I Corps Hdqrs., Aug. 21–Sept. Hdqrs., Oct. 8–26; and 33d Div. Hdqrs.,
18; and VI Corps Hdqrs., from Sept. 15 Oct. 26 to the Armistice.
until after the Armistice. Villers-en-Haye. Location of 90th Div.
S o m m e d i e u e . 2 d D iv. H d q r s . , d u r- Hdqrs., Aug. 24–Oct. 10, except from
ing most of the period, Mar. 16–May 9, S e p t e m b e r 1 1 t o 1 9 wh e n i t m ov e d
while the division was training in the forward to Mamey for the St. Mihiel
front line with the French on the western operation. 7th Div. Hdqrs., Oct. 10–30.
SUMMARY OF COMBAT SERVICE OF AMERICAN DIVISIONS
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION 165
IN THE ST. MIHIEL REGION

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SUMMARY OF COMBAT SERVICE—Continued

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Chapter IV
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE
MEUSE-ARGONNE REGION

0
NE of the most far-reaching effects and ran through a narrow strip of territory
of the rapid increase of American lying within 35 miles of the battle line.
troops in Europe, and the resulting To the north of Sedan, as far as Liége,
Allied and American successes during the t h e c o u n t r y, i n c l u d i n g t h e A r d e n n e s
summer of 1918, was that it became pos- Forest, was of a wooded and diff icult
sible to undertake in September a gigantic character, and no impor tant east and
convergent offensive movement against west railways had been built through it.
the German forces on the Western Front. The network of railways which radiated
The f inal plans for this movement were to the west and southwest from Liége
agreed upon and as a formality of coor- passed through a restricted zone near that
dination were promulgated by the Allied place, which was bounded by the rough
Commander-in-Chief on September 3. terrain on the south and neutral Holland
Under these plans the American Army on the north. These railroads were the
was to advance northward between the principal lines of supply and evacuation
Meuse River and the Argonne Forest, for the German troops along the entire
supported on its left by the French Fourth front northwest of Reims.
Ar my west of the Argonne. Nor theast It was apparent that an Allied attack in
of Paris the center of the French Armies the vicinity of the Meuse River, if carried
was to renew its efforts to force the Ger- far enough to gain control of the lateral
mans back from the Aisne, while farther r a i lw ay s , wo u l d d i v i d e t h e G e r m a n
north the British were to continue opera- Ar mies. Once this was accomplished
tions in the direction of St. Quentin and Germany would be unable to maintain her
Cambrai, and the Allies were to attack forces in France and Belgium because
near Ypres to free the Belgian coast. communications between the two wings
The signif icance of the American would be practically impossible except by
Army's part in the general plan lay in the the long and circuitous route through
fact that its attack was to be directed Liege and the Rhine River valley.
against a most vital point of the German Furthermore, the capture or defeat of
system of railroad communications. the Ger man northern armies would be
Within the German lines were two im- practically cer tain because, under the
portant railways which ran to the north- stress of the powerful attacks which the
we s t f r o m t h e a r e a a r o u n d M e t z a n d Allies were then prepared to deliver, these
roughly paralleled the battle front. These armies could scarcely effect an orderly
railroads were practically the Germans' withdrawal through the congested bottle
only lateral communications between neck at Liege. It was evident, therefore,
their forces east and west of the Meuse, that in the sector covering the communi-
a n d we r e t h e r e f o r e e s s e n t i a l t o t h e i r cations near Sedan, and to the southeast
supply system and for the transfer of of that place, the German forces could
troops back and forth along the front. least afford to lose g round. This was
Nor thwest of Mézières these railways clearly appreciated by the German High
were rather widely separated and were C o m m a n d wh i c h h a d m a d e e l a b o r a t e
at a considerable distance from the front preparations to prevent any Allied ad-
lines, but in the vicinity of Sedan and to vance on that par t of the battle front.
the southeast of that city they converged Along most of the Western Front the

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168 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

German Tank Attack, October 1918. © G

German Tank and Observation Plane Cooperating in an Attack, September 1918. © G

German Troops Mopping Up a Trench, October 1918. © G


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 169

Germans had prepared several defensive about 10 miles in rear of the front lines.
lines in rear of their f irst position. West The nature of this region was such as to
and nor thwest of the Meuse-Argonne make it ideal for defensive f ighting. The
region, where loss of ground would have heights just east of the Meuse River con-
no decisive effect on the situation, these stituted not only a for midable natural

different positions were separated by barrier but furnished splendid sites from
relatively great distances. In the Meuse- which the country to the east and west
Argonne region, however, where the im- could be observed and covered by artillery
portant railways lay comparatively close f ire. These heights and the broken hills
to the battle line, the second and third of the Argonne Forest had been organized
lines were very close to the forward posi- into almost impregnable positions by
tion, forming a practically continuous zone the addition of machine guns, artillery,
of trenches, barbed wire and other f ield trenches and obstacles of all kinds. Be-
for tif ications extending for a depth of tween these two great natural bulwarks
170 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

lay the dominating hill of Montfaucon prepared artillery positions, all so placed
which afforded the Germans perfect ob- as to be mutually supporting and to cover
servation, and whose inherent strength by cross and enf ilade f ire the ground be-
had been greatly increased by the elabo- tween the features of natural strength.
rate use of f ield fortif ications of all kinds. The comparatively narrow front of this
The numerous east and west ridges in natural def ile and the great depth of the
this area lent themselves admirably to German defensive organization made the
the construction of defensive lines which task of the American Ar my extremely
connected the Heights of the Meuse with diff icult. The only feasible method of
the Argonne Forest. In organizing these advancing was to drive salients into the
lines the Germans had made elaborate use enemy lines by frontal assaults and to
of barbed-wire entanglements, trenches, exploit these penetrations by attacking
concrete machine-gun emplacements and the flanks of the salients thus created.

American Supply Dump During the Meuse-Argonne Operation


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 171

While the diff iculties to be encountered m a d e e n t i r e ly u n d e r c ov e r o f d a r k -


in an offensive on the Meuse-Argonne ness, all activity being suspended and the
front were clearly appreciated by the men kept in concealment during daylight
Allied High Command, it realized that an hours. Consequently, at night the roads
advance there would have far-reaching leading into the area were the scenes of
effects and that it would be essential to great activity as troops and artillery, am-
the success of the general plan. munition and supplies moved steadily for-
In view of the strength of the German ward. On most of the Meuse-Argonne
positions, the stubborn opposition that front French soldiers remained in the
would undoubtedly be met with at that outpost positions until the last minute to
point and the vital impor tance of the prevent the Germans from seeing or other-
front, the American Army could well feel wise securing information of the presence
that in the coming combined Allied offen- of large numbers of American soldiers in
sive it had been given the place of honor. the region and thus receiving advance
When the decision was made to attack warning of the impending offensive.
in the Meuse-Argonne region the Ameri- In all, about 220,000 Allied soldiers
can First Ar my was busily engaged in were moved out of the area and approxi-
preparations for the St. Mihiel offensive, mately 600,000 Americans were moved
p l a n n e d f o r S e p t e m b e r 1 2 . H oweve r, into it. The planning and execution of
because of the limited time available, the this gigantic movement of concentration
a s s e m bly o f A m e r i c a n d iv i s i o n s n o t was an intricate and arduous task. The
scheduled for the St. Mihiel attack was fact that it was done with smoothness
begun immediately and detailed plans for and precision, and without the knowledge
the larger battle were at once prepared. o f t h e e n e my, i s i n i t s e l f a s t r i k i n g
Two of the American divisions desig- tribute to the ability of the American
nated for the attack west of the Meuse, Army and to the skill of its staffs.
the 33d and 79th, were sent to that front Fi n a l ly, o n t h e n i g h t o f S e p t e m b e r
before the middle of September and took 25–26 the First Army stood on its new
over large sectors. Soon thereafter other front ready for the momentous battle
American units were sent to the region that was to begin at dawn the next day.
and secretly concentrated behind them. The American cor ps and divisions in
The movement of men and matériel was line were in position as shown on the
Road Scene at Esnes, an Important Road Center,
During the Meuse-Argonne Operation
172 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

a b ove s k e t c h . T h e I I I C o r p s wa s o n of the French Fourth Army, and thus open


t h e r i g h t w i t h t h e 3 3 d, 8 0 t h a n d 4 t h t h e way t owa r d S e d a n a n d M é z i è r e s .
Divisions in line, in that order from right These attacks of the First Army were to
to left, and the 3d Division in reserve. be coordinated by General Pershing and
The V Corps was in the center with the General Pétain with those of the French
79th, 37th and 91st Divisions in line and Fourth Army west of the Argonne.
the 32d Division in reserve. The I Corps The diff iculty of capturing Montfaucon
was on the left, with the 35th, 28th and was fully realized, and it was planned to
77th Divisions in line and the French 5th drive deep salients into the German lines
Cavalry Division and the American 92d on each side of that stronghold and then,
Division, less one regiment, in reserve. by threatening its rear, to force the retire-
The 1st, 29th and 82d Divisions com- ment of the gar rison. By these tactics
posed the Army reserve. Opposing the the troops in front of the hill would be
American First Army were the German enabled to carry it without encountering
Fifth and Third Armies. too severe opposition.
The general plans provided f irst for an The V Cor ps, whose zone of action
advance of 10 miles which would break included Montfaucon near its easter n
through the hostile f irst, second and boundary, was to drive vigorously for-
third positions and force the Germans to ward to the left of that place and without
give up the Argonne Forest. This was waiting for the adjacent cor ps was to
to be followed by a further penetration penetrate the German third position near
of about the same distance which would Romagne. The main mission of the III
outflank their defenses in the Bois de Corps was to support the advance of the
Bourgogne 1 and along the Aisne in front V Cor ps by tur ning Montfaucon from
1
In this text the name Bois de Bourgogne has been the east and by protecting the right flank
u s e d t o d e s i g n a t e t h e e n t i r e l a rg e c o n t i n u o u s of the advancing troops. The I Cor ps
wooded area which lies to the north of the Argonne
Forest. was to protect the left of the V Corps and
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 173

flank the Argonne Forest from the east. The artillery preparation for the attack
The artillery of the III Cor ps was espe- began in full force at 2:30 on the morning
cially charged with suppressing the enemy of September 26. Two thousand seven
guns located on the dominating heights hundred guns kept up an intense bombard-
east of the Meuse, while the artillery of ment of the hostile positions until 5:30
the I Cor ps was to silence the German a.m., at which time the assaulting infantry
guns f iring from the Argonne Forest. jumped off, protected by a rolling barrage.
A b r i g a d e , u n d e r Fr e n c h c o m m a n d, The dense fog during the morning, the
which included the 368th Infantry, 92d networks of wire, myriads of shell craters,
Division, and one French regiment, had deep ravines and thick woods presented
the mission of maintaining contact be- great diff iculties, but, except in front of
tween the flanks of the American First Montfaucon, the progress made that day
Army and the French Fourth Army. was considered entirely satisfactory.
Of the nine American divisions which In the center, the left of the V Corps
took part in the initial assault only f ive made a splendid advance to the west of
had seen service in offensive combat and Montfaucon but its right was held up in
four of the nine were supported by divi- front of that place. The III Cor ps drove
sional artillery with which they had never forward vigorously to the east of Mont-
ser ved. Moreover, time had not been faucon and by early after noon its left
available in which to train the many units flank was a mile beyond that hill. Dur-
of the First Ar my in the teamwork so ing the advance its right flank wheeled
essential to success in battle. Despite toward the Meuse and took up a defensive
these handicaps, however, the ability of position along the bluffs of the river.
the commanders and their staffs, and the The I Corps, on the Army's left, made a
unbounded strength, courage and will-to- deep penetration along the Aire River
win of the soldiers, car ried the Ar my while its left flank fought its way forward
rapidly forward from the very beginning. about one mile in the Argonne Forest.
German Narrow-Gauge Railroad Equipment Captured in the Argonne Forest
174
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

American Troops Marching Toward the Front, Montfaucon, October 2, 1918


The house with the peaked roof contained a concealed concrete observation post used at one time by the German Crown Prince
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 175

On the evening of September 26 the by severe artiller y concentrations and


strong German f irst position was all in strong counterattacks by fresh German
American hands. Montfaucon, in the troops. Gains were made by the Ameri-
German second position, had held out, but cans at a number of places but most of
deep salients driven into the German lines these were isolated and had to be given
on both sides of that hill made its capture up. As a result of the increased resist-
a question of merely a few hours. ance and of conditions incident to the
On the second day the infantry assaults deep and rapid advance, the First Army
were continued vigorously, Montfaucon on September 29 ordered that the posi-
b e i n g c a r r i e d a b o u t n o o n . T h e G e r- tions then held be organized for defense
mans' brief stand there, however, had and that vigorous preparations be started
enabled them to reinforce their strong for a prompt renewal of the battle. Dur-
positions north of the hill, and as the ing this period certain of the inexperienced
American advance of the day before had divisions which had been in the initial

been so rapid as to outrun much of its assault were replaced in line by other
artillery support, the amount of ground divisions with previous battle service.
captured and held by the First Army on During the initial stages of the offensive
September 27 was not as great as that the Army had under its control 821 air-
secured on the preceding day. planes, which rendered valuable service.
On September 28, however, with more The Army keenly felt the need of tanks.
artillery and tank support, the American The total number with the Ar my was
units again surged forward, gaining about reduced during the f irst two weeks of
l 1 / 2 miles all along the front of attack. the offensive from 415, of which 141 were
Except in the Argonne Forest, the line operated by Americans, to about 94.
held that evening was beyond the German While the attack on the f irst day had
second position and the III and V Corps sur prised the Ger mans and resulted in
faced the outpost defenses of the German important gains at comparatively small
third position in this region, commonly cost, the f ighting all along the front from
known as the Hindenburg Line. that time on was of the most desperate
During the next day the deter mined c h a r a c t e r. E a c h f o o t o f g r o u n d wa s
efforts of the Army to advance were met stubbornly contested, the hostile troops
176 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

taking advantage of every available spot attack and Allied pressure on other parts
from which to pour enf ilading and cross of the front caused the German High
f ire into the advancing Americans. Command on September 29 to urge its
In their efforts to stop the progress of Government to forward immediately an
the American units, the Germans quickly offer of peace to the Allied Governments
began drawing reinforcements from other and this was done on October 6.
parts of the Western Front to strengthen The area near the former front lines had
their forces in the Meuse-Argonne region been torn to pieces by shellf ire during the
and by the end of the f ifth day seven more preceding four years and the few roads
German divisions had been rushed to this leading across it were almost entirely
crucial region and had entered the battle. obliterated in what had been no man's
The great progress of the First Army land. In order to move troops, food and
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 177

ammunition forward, and the wounded to magne Heights, while the I Corps was to
the rear, these roads had to be practically a s s i s t t h e V C o r p s by c a p t u r i n g t h e
rebuilt while in use. The diff iculty of western end of Romagne Heights, neu-
t h e t a s k wa s i n c r e a s e d by i n c l e m e n t tralize the hostile artillery f ire from the
weather, frequent hostile artillery bom- A rg o n n e Fo r e s t a n d m a i n t a i n l i a i s o n
bardments, and the limited number of with the French Fourth Army.
engineer and pioneer troops available. Many changes had been made in the
T h e r e s u m p t i o n o f t h e a t t a c k wa s front-line divisions and on October 4 the
ordered for October 4. At that time, on Ar my order of battle from the Meuse
most of its front east of the Argonne, the River to the west was as follows: the 33d,
A r my f a c e d t h e o u t p o s t z o n e o f t h e 4th and 80th Divisions in line in the III
Hindenburg Line. That line, which in- Cor ps; the 3d and 32d Divisions in line
cluded the Bois de Forêt, Cunel Heights and the 91st Division in process of with-
and Romagne Heights, had been organ- drawal from line to reserve in the V Corps;
ized with great skill so as to take full and the 1st, 28th and 77th Divisions in line
advantage of the natural defensive fea- with the 82d, 92d (less the 183d Brigade)
t u r e s o f t h e g r o u n d . I n t h e A rg o n n e a n d Fr e n c h 5 t h C ava l r y D iv i s i o n s i n
Forest the First Army was in front of the reser ve in the I Cor ps. The 35th and
German second position which extended 42d Divisions and the 183d Brigade of the
across it to the west from Apremont. 92d Division were in Army reserve.
The III and V Corps were to attack the The attack was launched with g reat
Bois de Forêt, Cunel Heights and Ro- force about daybreak. The resistance
178 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

encountered was desperate in the extreme creasingly large concentrations of hostile


as the Ger mans were rapidly pouring artillery was causing severe casualties
their best troops into this battle. Not all and hampering the American operations
the assigned objectives were taken, but to the east of the forest. Consequently
important gains were made, outstanding on the morning of the 7th an assault was
among them being the capture by the 4th m a d e by t h e 2 8 t h a n d 8 2 d D iv i s i o n s
D iv i s i o n o f t h e B o i s d e Fay s i n t h e against Châtel-Chéhéry, in rear of and
Hindenburg Line southeast of Cunel and near the left flank of the German second
a deep advance immediately east of the position in the Argonne. At the same
Aire River by the 1st Division. time the 77th Division advanced from
To exploit this latter gain it became t h e s o u t h . T h e f l a n k a t t a c k wa s s u c -
necessary to make a flank attack against cessful and freed the heroic survivors of
the Heights of the Argonne, near Châtel- the “Lost Battalion”. (See Chapter V.)
C h é h é r y, f r o m wh i c h t h e f i r e o f i n - The advance was continued on the 8th
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 179

with further valu-


able gains. As a
result the Germans
on October 9 started
a withdrawal from
t h e A rg o n n e , a n d
the menace to the
First Army of their
presence in the for-
est was removed.
The success in the
Argonne Forest on
October 7 was fol-
lowed on October 8
by an attack east of
the Meuse by the
French XVII Corps
of the American
F i r s t A r my. T h e
Corps was composed
of three French divi-
sions reinforced by
the American 29th
and 33d Divisions,
making it almost
two-thirds American
in strength. It
cleared the enemy
from an important
part of the heights
east of the Meuse, captured approxi- the 11th the 4th Division had deepened
mately 3,000 prisoners and eliminated its penetration in the Hindenburg Line
much of the serious flanking f ire which and had gained a foothold in the Bois de
had been directed against the troops Fori%. On that day the 82d Division came
west of the river. This operation created in close contact with the outpost of the
a new threat against the enemy main Hindenburg Line east of St. Juvin. These
lateral line of communication through operations involved f ighting of the most
Sedan and caused the Germans to vicious sort, many places changing hands
increase the number of their divisions several times in a single day.
engaged in the active f ighting. The battle died down on the 12th as the
To reap the full advantage of the two First Army again drew its breath prepara-
successful attacks in prog ress on the tory to a resumption of the offensive on
flanks, the V Corps, at the center of the October 14. At that time the Army faced
Army, on October 9 again vigorously re- the Hindenburg Line, the last fully-pre-
sumed the offensive, and on that day the pared German position, along most of its
3d and 80th Divisions penetrated the Hin- zone of attack and had penetrated it on a
denburg Line in and near the Bois de front of about 3 miles.
Cunel and the 32d Division penetrated it The plan of attack for October 14 and
to the south of Romagne. the units which took part are shown on
On the 10th the attacks were general the sketch on the following page.
along the Ar my front from Beaumont, For this attack the order of battle on the
east of the Meuse, to the Argonne. By Meuse-Argonne front was, from right
180 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

to left, as follows: east of the Meuse—the Corps with the 4th, 3d and 5th Divisions
French XVII Corps with the French 10th in line, the V Cor ps with the 32d and
Colonial, 26th and 18th Divisions and the 42d Divisions in line and the 89th in
A m e r i c a n 2 9 t h a n d 3 3 d D iv i s i o n s i n reser ve, and the I Cor ps with the 82d
line and the American 26th Division in and 77th Divisions in line and the 78th
r e s e r ve ; we s t o f t h e M e u s e — t h e I I I a n d Fr e n c h 5 t h C ava l r y D iv i s i o n s i n
swer ve. The 1st, 80th, 90th and 91st
German Trench Mortar Used for Anti-Tank Divisions were in Army reserve. Oppos-
Defense, October 1918 © G ing this front the Germans had 17
divisions in the front line and 6 in reserve.
It was hoped that the III and V Cor ps
could drive salients through the Hinden-
burg Line and then force the enemy from
the ground between the salients. The I
Corps was to protect the left of the V
Corps. The French XVII Cor ps was to
continue its offensive east of the Meuse.
The offensive was to he started at the
same time as one by the French Fourth
Army, in an attempt to advance simul-
taneously on both sides of the diff icult
ground in the dense Bois de Bourgogne.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 181

The attack was launched with g reat


vigor on October 14 and met with violent
resistance. Its weight, however, proved
overwhelming and positions of tremendous
strength in and near the Hindenburg Line
were carried, the most notable being the
Bois de la Pultière taken by the 3d and 5th
Divisions, the dominating Côte Dame
Marie seized by the 32d Division, St.
J u v i n c a p t u r e d by t h e 7 7 t h , a n d t h e
ridge to the east of it taken by the 82d.
The offensive was pushed on the 15th
and 16th, resulting in the capture of the
Côte de Châtillon, a stronghold in the German Plane Down Near Cierges,
Hindenburg Line, by the 42d Division and October 4, 1918
the hill north of St. Juvin by the 82d.
Although the ground gained in these three to be made to secure favorable jump-off
days was not so great in area, it was of lines and operations were to be initiated
exceptional importance as it opened the o n t h e l e f t o f t h e A r my t o c l e a r
way for further advances. the wooded area north of Grandpré
East of the Meuse, in the French XVII The local attacks were highly successful
Corps, both the 29th and 33d Divisions in spite of severe opposition. The 3d,
gained home ground during this period. 5th, 26th (which had entered the line east
On October 21 General Pershing di- of the Meuse), 29th and 32d Divisions and
rected the First Ar my to prepare for a the 89th and 90th (which had entered the
general offensive, the date for which was line near Romagne) were all engaged.
tentatively set as October 28. Prior to By the 22d of the month the 3d Division
the day of the attack, local assaults were had completed the capture of the Bois de
Supply Train Passing Through Cuisy, October 11, 1918
182 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Forêt; the 5th Division, Cunel Heights: American Second Army was formed in the
and the 89th, the northern and eastern Wo ë v r e . A f t e r t h e r e a p p o r t i o n m e n t
par t of Romagne Heights. The Ameri- of the American front between the two
can troops on the heights east of the Armies, the First extended from
Meuse River gave the enemy no respite Fresnesen-Woëvre to the western edge of
and continued to advance despite the the Argonne, a distance of about 49 miles.
opposition of fresh German divisions. The French XXXIII and XVII Corps, and
T h e o p e r a t i o n s a t G r a n d p r é we r e the American III, V and I Corps were in
pushed with great resolution, the 78th line from right to left.
Division attacking almost continuously. General Pershing relinquished personal
Impor tant g round was g ained and by command of the American First Army on

October 27 suff icient progress had been October 16 to Major General Hunter
made an that flank to enable the right of Liggett, and from that time on became
t h e Fr e n c h Fo u r t h A r my t o a d va n c e . Commander of the American Group of
This activity had a material effect on the Armies, in addition to his duties as Com-
success of the f inal offensive, as it drew mander-in-Chief of the A. E. F.
the hostile attention away from the center In his report, covering the period of the
of the First Army at which point the main Argonne battle from its beginning to
attack was f inally delivered. October 16, he paid a glowing tribute to
During the severe f ighting in October the enlisted men and junior off icers of
several events of importance to the First the American Expeditionary Forces. He
A r my o c c u r r e d . O n O c t o b e r 1 2 t h e s a i d i n p a r t : “ . . . a t t e n d e d by c o l d
(182)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 183

American Airplanes Ready to Start on Patrol Duty

and inclement weather and fought largely ing the offensive for additional combat troops
by par tially trained troops: the battle on the Meuse-Argonne front, the Allied
was prosecuted with an aggressive and C o m m a n d e r- i n - C h i e f m a d e m a ny d e -
heroic spirit of cour- mands on General
age and fortitude Pershing for American
which demanded even- divisions to assist the
tual success despite all attacks at other points.
obstacles. The morale While reluctant to
of the American soldier have his divisions op-
during this most trying e r a t e away f r o m t h e
p e r i o d w a s s u p e r b. American Army, Gen-
Physically strong and eral Pershing neverthe-
virile, naturally coura- less gave his consent in
geous and aggressive, certain cases where he
inspired by unself ish felt that by so doing
and idealistic motives, the general situation
he guaranteed the would be improved.
v i c t o r y a n d d r ov e a The divisions which
v e t e r a n e n e my f r o m served with the Allies
h i s l a s t d i t c h . To o during this period had
much credit cannot a very favorable effect
be given him; his upon the morale of the
patriotism, courage, Allied soldiers, and the
a n d f o r t i t u d e we r e military accomplish-
beyond praise. ments of these Ameri-
“ U p o n t h e yo u n g can divisions were out-
commanders of pla- standing. The 2d and
toons, companies, and 36th were assigned to
battalions fell the t h e F r e n c h Fo u r t h
h e av i e s t burden. Army west of the Ar-
They not only suffered g o n n e a n d e a r ly i n
all the dangers and October vitally assisted
rigors of the f ight but it to advance at a criti-
car ried the responsi- cal period. (See Chap-
Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett
bility of caring for and ter V.) The 27th and
Commanding General of the
directing their men, First Army from October 16, 1918, 30th Divisions oper-
often newly arrived and to April 20, 1919 ated with the British
not fully trained . . . A r my throughout
quick to lear n, they the entire duration of
soon developed on the f ield into skilled t h e M e u s e - A rg o n n e o p e r a t i o n . T h e i r
l e a d e r s a n d i n s p i r e d t h e i r m e n . . . " most striking achievement was on Sep-
Although a pressing need existed dur- tember 29 when, as part of the American
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184 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

First Aid Station at Main Road Junction in Montfaucon, October 1918

German Prisoners, Headed by Their Off icers, Being Conducted to the Rear

German 21-Centimeter Mortar Being Withdrawn From Position, October 1918 © G


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 185

German Reserves Being Moved to the Front, October 1918. © G

II Corps, they broke the Hindenburg Line recuperation and other divisions in better
north of St. Quentin. (See Chapter VI.) condition were placed in the battle line.
The 37th and 91st Divisions were sent to The American Army during this period
Belgium during October to assist the was for the f irst time able to prepare for
Group of Armies of Flanders, and late in an offensive under reasonably nor mal
the month attacked near Audenarde and conditions. It was already on the front
m a d e i m p o r t a n t ga i n s . ( S e e C h a p t e r from which the assault was to be made
VI.) The four infantry regiments of the and suff icient time for careful and deliber-
93d Division fought with g reat credit ate planning was available. Other favor-
as integral parts of
French divisions,
and three American
divisions, the 6th,
81st and 88th, held
sectors for a time
with the French
S e v e n t h A r my i n
t h e Vo s g e s M o u n -
tains, thus releasing
Fr e n c h t r o o p s f o r
service elsewhere.
On the Meuse-
Argonne front a
number of changes
we r e m a d e i n t h e
front-line units
between October 22
and 31 as the worn-
out divisions were
relieved for rest and
186 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

able factors were that the majority of the battle, from the Meuse River to the west,
Allied artillery and aviation units had was: the III Corps with the 5th and 90th
been replaced by Americans and that the Divisions in line and the 32d in reserve,
weather in the preparatory period took a the V Corps with the 89th and 2d Divi-
turn for the better thus greatly relieving sions in line and the 1st and 42d in reserve,
the hardships of the troops. 1 and the I Corps with the 80th, 77th and
Upon the request of the French the 78th Divisions in line and the 6th and 82d
date of the attack was postponed until in reserve. The 42d Division was trans-
November 1, at which time the divisions ferred to the reserve of the I Corps soon
of the First Army were in line as shown on after the beginning of the attack. The
the accompanying sketch. The order of 3d, 29th and 36th Divisions in the rear
areas composed the Army reserve.
1
During the course of the Meuse-Argonne operation, The general mission of the First Army
rain was reported in the official reports by at least one remained the same, to cut the Metz-
American division of the First Army on every day Sedan-Mézières railroad. The detailed
from September 26 to November 11, except for seven
days, which were October 2, 3, 24, 25, 27, 28 and 29. plan for the attack contemplated a deep
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 187

penetration by the V Corps in the center tively bombarded the sensitive points of
to secure Barricourt Heights, followed by the enemy positions. The progress of the
a drive by the I Corps to connect with attack exceeded all expectations. In the
t h e Fr e n c h n e a r B o u l t - a u x - B o i s . T h e center, the V Corps crushed all opposi-
capture of Barricourt Heights, which con- tion and by early afternoon had advanced
stituted a formidable natural obstacle, about 6 miles and captured Bar ricour t
would compel a German retirement across Heights, thus assuring the success of the
the Meuse, so the III Corps, while assist- whole operation. On its right, the III
ing the main attack in the center, was Cor ps made a deep advance, wheeling
directed to be prepared to force a crossing toward the Meuse River to protect that
of the river if the enemy withdrew. There flank of the Ar my. On the left, the I
was to be no attack by the French XVII Corps, which faced the unbroken Hinden-
Cor ps then on the heights east of the burg Line on most of its front, attacked
Meuse until this crossing was started. and made an average gain of about 1 / 2
The eastern edge of the Bois de Bourgogne m i l e . I t s ex t r e m e r i g h t f l a n k m a d e a
was to be neutralized by heavy artillery rapid and deep advance, keeping up with
concentrations of persistent gas. the left flank of the V Corps.
With conditions generally favorable, it This deep penetration of the hostile
was a splendid force of veteran American lines, which overran the enemy artillery
soldiers which jumped off west of the positions, caused the German High Com-
Meuse at daybreak on November 1. mand to issue orders on the night of
The assault was preceded by a terrif ic November 1 for a withdrawal from the
two-hour artillery preparation which effec- Fi r s t A r my f r o n t we s t o f t h e M e u s e .
Buzancy on the Day After Its Capture
188
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

American Wounded in a Wrecked Church, Neuvilly, September 26, 1918


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 189

The decision was a momentous one as placed in strong commanding positions.


such a withdrawal required a general re- The pursuit continued until November
tirement along the whole battle line as 7, when units of the I Corps reached the
far as Holland, if the Germans were to heights overlooking the city of Sedan.
avoid a decisive military defeat. The occupation of these heights effec-
The First Army continued to drive for- tively cut the lateral railroad through
ward on November 2 and 3. The III Corps Sedan, which was the main objective of
forced the enemy across the Meuse River, the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
the V Corps made a maximum advance During the period from November 4 to
of 7 miles, and the I Cor ps gained 10 7 the 1st Division relieved the 80th and
miles. By November 4 the Germans were the 42d Division relieved the 78th.
in full retreat west of the Meuse, although Between September 26 and November 6
still vainly trying to check the rapid ad- the French, British and Belgians to the
vance of the First Army by means of rear- west and north had gradually increased
guard actions and the use of machine guns the vigor and strength of their attacks
190 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

and had made substantial inroads into shifted several times by the Allied Com-
the hostile positions. Damaging as these mander-in-chief, the notice of the last
drives were to the German cause, and change being received on November 7
valuable as they were in the Allied plan when the American troops were on the
for victory, such was the importance to heights south of Sedan preparing to attack
the Ger mans of protecting their main the city. It limited the left of the Army
railroad at Sedan that they brought re- to Mouzon instead of to near Sedan. The
serves from almost every portion of the t o p og r a p hy o f t h e g r o u n d a n d t h e s e
Western Front to throw in the path of the modif ications in its boundary caused the
American advance. (See the sketch below.) gradual withdrawal of the I Corps from
When the American Army, in spite of the battle line on the left flank of the
increasing enemy reinforcements and First Army and a change from north to
a well-nigh impregnable hostile defensive east in the general direction of advance
system, had driven forward to a position of the American Army.
dominating the German railroad commu- Meanwhile the crossing of the Meuse
nications in the vicinity of Sedan, the ter- by the III Cor ps began on November 4,
mination of the war in 1918 was assured. when bridgeheads were established by the
While the pursuit was going on, the 5th Division south of Dun-sur-Meuse.
western boundary of the First Army was These gains were exploited, assisted by
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 191

a nor thward movement of the French T h e A m e r i c a n C o m m a n d e r- i n - C h i e f


XVII Cor ps which was far ther up the issued instructions on November 5 direct-
river on the heights to the east of it. ing both American Armies to prepare for
This f ighting gradually cleared the enemy an advance in the direction of Longwy
from the heights east of the Meuse as far and the Briey iron basin, and for the
as Stenay. All divisions of the III Corps First Army to conduct an offensive with
and French II Colonial Cor ps, which the object of driving the enemy beyond
l a t t e r c o r p s h a d r e l i eve d t h e Fr e n c h Theinte Creek and the Chiers River.
XVII Cor ps on November 6, were in- Late on November 9 Marshal Foch,
volved. These attacks, par ticipated in then in conference with the enemy con-
by the 26th, 79th, French 15th Colonial, cerning the Armistice, issued instructions
32d, 5th and 90th Divisions, in order to all ar mies directing that attacks be
from right to left were so successful that initiated and sustained along the whole
by November 10 an excellent line of front in order to take full advantage of
departure for an advance in the direc- the demoralization of the German forces.
tion of Montmédy had been secured. The First Army executed these attacks
The First Army, which reached
a strength in early October of
about 900,000 Americans, rein-
forced by more than 100,000
F r e n c h , w a s a p p r o x i m a t e ly
eight times the size of the army
with which General Grant
opposed General Lee at the end
of the American Civil War.
Its total losses from all causes,
excluding those of the French
troops ser ving with it, were
about 117,000. It had inflicted
approximately 100,000 casualties
on the enemy and had captured
26,000 prisoners, 874 cannon,
3,000 machine guns and vast
quantities of supplies, ammuni-
tion and other matériel.
The American First Army in
47 days of continuous f ighting
had advanced steadily in spite
of all obstacles, and the most des-
perate resistance, and had played
a vital part in bringing the
war to a successful conclusion.

Allied Propaganda Being Floated


to German Lines

German Propaganda Dropped Behind the


American Lines
on November 10 and 11, making assaults
along most of its front. These result
in substantial gains, including, in addition
to those mentioned above, the forcing of
a crossing of the Meuse River south of
Mouzon by the 2d and 89th Divisions of
the V Corps, and a 1 1 / 2 mile advance east
of Verdun by the 81st Division, the right
division of the French II Colonial Corps.
On the morning of November 11 word
was received and sent to the American
troops as quickly as possible that the
Armistice had been signed, and that hos-
tilities would cease at 11:00 a. m.
Thus ended the Meuse-Argonne battle,
the g reatest one in American histor y.

(192)
A AMERICAN
VISIT TO THE AMERICAN
OPERATIONS BATTLEFIELDS
IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 193
IN THE MEUSE-ARGONNE REGION

T HIS itinerary of the Meuse-Argonne


battlef ield is divided into two tours,
each requiring a day. The f irst, which is
visit the American memorial at Mont-
faucon and the American cemetery near
Romagne-sous-Montfaucon and that pages
the shorter, traverses the area that was 203–214 and 247–253 of the f irst day's tour
fought over between September 26 and be read while there. Besides being objects
November 1, 1918; the second covers of great sentimental interest to Ameri-
principally that part where the f ighting cans, these places are in areas of severe
occur red between November 1 and the American f ighting and afford excellent
Armistice. The f irst day's tour is recom- obser vation points. The combat opera-
mended to all tourists who can spend but tions described at the monument and
one day on this battle front. cemetery in the f irst day's tour, to which
For those who have not suff icient time the above page references refer, give a
to follow the f irst day' s tour, it is recom- good résumé of all the fighting of the Amer-
mended that a special effort he made to ican Army in the Mouse-Argonne region.

No Man’s Land South of Malancourt

(193)
194 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION
FIRST DAY'S TOUR OF THE AMERICAN
MEUSE-ARGONNE BATTLEFIELDS

T HIS tour begins and ends at Verdun


and is about 95 miles (153 kilometers)
long. It can be completed in eight hours.
(1.2 m 1.9 km) Near far side of town,
at large barracks passed on the left, to
the right front can be seen glimpses of the
To save time lunch should be carried. open f ield in which three American 14-
The data given on pages 520–521 will inch naval guns, mounted on railway
be helpful to those following this tour. carriages and manned by personnel of the
The narrative at the beginning of the United States Navy, went into action on
chapter should he kept in mind and the October 13, 1918. These guns f ired at
map at the end consulted, so that the important enemy communication centers
operations described in this chapter will about 20 miles away. Two of them were
he more clearly understood. later moved to positions near Charny,
When following this tour of the battle- several miles ahead, where they joined a
f ields, unless contrary road instructions third that had been on duty with the
are given, continue straight ahead. Fr e n c h n e a r S o i s s o n s . A s a r e s u l t o f
direct hits made by these guns on their
EN ROUTE RAILROAD STATION VERDUN TO targets, the movement of enemy troops
NORTHERN SLOPE OF LE MORT HOMME and supplies was considerably hampered.
(2.9 m 4.7 km) Beyond town, about
Speedometer distance is measured from 1 1/2 miles, at the first road junction, turn
the plaza in front of the railroad station. to the right toward Charny.
(0.0 m 0.0 km) At railroad station, To the left on top of the hill is seen one
with the station on right-hand side, set of the ring of forts constructed around
speedometer at zero. Proceed by the Verdun about 1880 for its defense.
road seen straight ahead. (4.7 m 7.6 km) In next village, Charny,
(0.3 m 0.5 km) A short distance far- at first road junction, turn sharp left.
ther on, bear right and cross the viaduct T h i s r o a d wa s a n i m p o r t a n t s u p p ly
which runs over the railroad tracks. route for the American First Army in the
(0.6 m 1.0 km) At the road junction fall of 1918. During the f irst part of the
beyond viaduct, bear to the right and Meuse-Argonne battle it was seldom used
continue on the road toward Montfaucon. in daylight hours because of the incessant

United States 14-Inch Naval Gun Firing From Railway Mount Near Charny, October 1918

(194)
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 195

33d Division Troops Passing Through Chattancourt,


October 1918

activity of hostile airplanes and artillery. ahead and stop on far side of next ridge
Consequently, during the hours of dark- where a good view of the valley, to the
news it was f illed to capacity as men, left front is obtained. At this point read itin-
ammunition and supplies were moved to erary to paragraph 1 of the second column
the front and wounded were carried to the on page 200. From here can be identified
rear. Motor trucks, ambulances, wagons most of the places seen from the stop at
and troops had to move without lights, Le Mort Homme if the map is consulted and
and much confusion and many traff ic it is remembered that the wood on the hill
jams occur red here in spite of all pre- across the valley to the left front is the Bois
cautions and constant supervision. The de Forges. After reading itinerary, con-
difficulties were greatly aggravated by the tinue straight ahead. At next road fork
enemy artillery which at night periodi- turn left, cross bridge and again turn left.
cally shelled the important road crossings. The described route is rejoined at the road
(7.5 m 12.1 km) At church in the next crossing just beyond the next village, Bé-
village, Marre, bear to the right. thincourt. Reset speedometer at that point.
(8.7 m 14.0 km) Near the next cross- (10.5 m 16.9 km) Beyond the f irst hill,
road, a 33d Division dressing station, a sign is seen (1937) on the right which
which gave f irst aid to the wounded, was indicates a path to a tunnel built by the
l o c a t e d d u r i n g t h e e a r ly d ay s o f t h e Germans during the war. In this region
American operations on this front. were constructed many such elaborate
(9.4 m 15.1 km) A short distance far- tunnels which afforded shelter and a
ther on, the monument seen on the right means of transferring troops and supplies
alongside the road marks the site of the from one place to another underground,
former village of Cumières. This village free from hostile observation and f ire.
was literally blown away by shellf ire dur- (10.6 m 17.1 km) The monuments seen
ing the f ighting in the vicinity. to the left front are French monuments on
(9.7 m 15.6 km) Where the road starts the hill called Le Mort Homme.
to climb the hill ahead, turn sharp left on (10.8 m 17.4 km) At the top of the hill
the narrow road which leads off from it. which the road is climbing, where a good
If narrow road is closed continue straight panorama to the right is obtained, STOP.
196 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From Stop


This point is on the northern slope of ground and the autumn rains had made
Le Mort Homme. Forges Creek runs in it a sea of mud, littered with battlef ield
the valley to the right front and right. wreckage. Innumerable bands of barbed
The large wood seen to the right on the wire zigzagged their way across the hills
hill across the valley is the Bois de Forges. and valleys, while the few shattered trees
The left portion of it is to the north. that remained stood lonely sentinels over
Face north. the bleak landscape. Nature has done
Along the slopes in front of here ran much to heal this battle-scarred area but
part of the battle line from which an army even now (1937) the marks of trenches
of 600,000 American soldiers, on the and shell holes are plainly visible.
morning of September 26, 1918, started The assembly of troops and supplies for
a g reat drive that f inally reached the the attack commenced early in September
vicinity of Sedan, 35 miles away, after when the American 33d Division arrived
43 days of continuous f ighting. in this region and on September 10 took
This area at that time was a scene of over a large sector of the line. It was
indescribable desolation. Thousands of followed by the 79th, which on Septem-
shells had churned up the surface of the ber 16 occupied an adjoining sector. Soon
thereafter numerous other American units
33d Division Troops in Front-Line Trench secretly concentrated behind this front
Near Forges, October 3, 1918 and made preparations for the assault.
The front of attack of the American
First Army ran from the Meuse River on
the right, along the forward slopes of the
low ridge seen directly ahead, and passed
just this side of Béthincourt, whose church
is plainly visible to the left front beyond
the ridge. It continued on, passing to the
left of Malancourt, seen on a clear day
down the road to the left over the second
ridge, and ended about 16 miles from here
near the far edge of the Argonne Forest.
This point lay in the sector of the III
Corps which had the 33d, 80th and 4th
Divisions, in that order from right to left,
in the initial assault. The 79th Division
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 197

on Le Mort Homme
of the V Corps was next in line with the mopping up, keeping contact with ad-
commanding hill of Montfaucon, marked joining units and advancing in the proper
by the monument on the sky line to the direction through the myriads of trenches,
left, in its zone of action. mazes of barbed wire and tangled masses
Beyond the 79th Division, and also in of trees and underbrush.
the V Corps for the initial assault, were On this part of the front, the divisions
the 37th and 91st Divisions. The I of the III Cor ps crossed the swampy
Corps was on the left of the Army with Forges Creek valley and broke into the
the 35th, 28th and 77th Divisions in line. strong Ger man positions to a depth of
The Ger man positions on this front 5 miles on the f irst day. The 33d Di-
were extremely formidable, having been vision, starting from this vicinity, quickly
strengthened to the highest degree during captured the Bois de Forges, and before
the preceding years of f ighting, In rear noon had established a line along this side
of their front line, they had constructed a of the Meuse River valley beyond the Bois
series of positions, one behind the other, de Forges as a protection for the flank of
which formed a continuous defensive zone the advancing forces. The 80th Division
for a depth of about 10 miles. Progress to the left of this point took Béthincourt,
here was considered so diff icult that Gen- Camouflaged Road Near Forges,
eral Pétain, the Commander-in-Chief of October 1918
the French Army, gave it as his opinion
that the American advance would not get
farther than Montfaucon before winter.
The battle began at 2:30 a. m. on Sep-
tember 26 when approximately 27,000
pieces of ar tiller y opened f ire on the
Ger man trenches, strong points, wire
entanglements, obser vation posts and
communication centers on the front of
attack. This bombardment lasted con-
tinuously until daybreak when the in-
fantry, protected by a dense barrage of
shellf ire, began its assault. A thick fog
aided in concealing the movements of
the American troops from the enemy but
also made more diff icult their tasks of
Shell Holes and Mine Craters
Good illustration of type of ground in no man’s land on the Meuse-Argonne front
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 199

drove ahead several miles and by mid- Sergeant Sandlin showed conspicuous
night had reached the Meuse River in gallantry by advancing alone on a ma-
the right part of its zone of action. The chine-gun nest which was holding up the
next day in severe f ighting it captured progress of his unit. He killed the crew
the Bois de Dannevoux, the wood seen with a grenade and enabled the advance
on the sky line to the right of and beyond t o c o n t i n u e . L a t e r i n t h e d ay h e a t -
Béthincourt. The 4th Division, passing tacked alone and put two other machine-
just this side of Montfaucon, made a rapid gun nests out of action, setting a splendid
and spectacular advance which will be example of coolness and bravery.
described at the next stop. B e f o r e l e av i n g t h i s s t o p t h e r e a d e r
The successes here were largely due to should f ix in his mind the general ap-
the courage and f ighting spirit of the in- pearance of the tall shaft of the monu-
dividual American soldier. Illustrative of ment on Montfaucon, which is visible
these are the exploits of Captain George from many places On this tour. Because
H. Mallon, First Sergeant Sydney G. it is located near the center of the area
Gumpertz and Sergeant Willie Sandlin of f o u g h t ov e r by t h e A m e r i c a n A r my
the 33d Division. All of these men were between September 26 and November 1,
awarded Congressional Medals of Honor, 1918, it will be pointed out from time to
the highest decoration for bravery given time as an orientation aid to the tourists
by the American Gover nment, for the who are following the described route.
important part they played in the cap- Cumières–Forges Road, 1918
ture of the Bois de Forges.
Becoming separated from his company
in the fog, Captain Mallon, with nine
men, pushed forward and attacked nine
hostile machine guns, capturing them all
without the loss of a man. Continuing,
he led his men against a battery of howitz-
ers in action and captured the guns and
their crews. Captain Mallon personally
attacked one of the enemy with his f ists.
Later, in assaulting two other machine
guns he sent his men to the flanks, while
he himself rushed directly forward in the
fare of the f ire and silenced the guns.
The exceptional gallantry and determi-
nation displayed by Captain Mallon re-
sulted in the capture of eleven machine
guns, four 155-millimeter howitzers, and
one anti-aircraft artillery piece.
When the advancing lines were held up
by severe machine-gun f ire First Sergeant
Gumpertz left the platoon of which he was
in command and started with two other
soldiers through a heavy barrage toward
the machine-gun nest. His two compan-
ions soon became casualties from the
bursting shells, but Sergeant Gumpertz
continued on alone in the face of direct
f ire from the machine gun, jumped into
the nest and silenced the gun, capturing
nine of the crew who were manning it.
200 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Section of Avocourt–Montfaucon Road Showing Plank Construction

EN ROUTE NORTHERN SLOPE OF LE MORT junction, turn left toward Malancourt.


HOMME TO MONTFAUCON (13.3 m 21.4 km) Beyond f irst crest,
(11.5 m 18.5 km) Beyond next hill, where road crosses center of shallow
while descending long slope, to the left valley leading off to the right the zone of
front the high wooded hill marked by a action of the 4th Division is entered. It
monument is Hill 304. Severe French was from this part of the American front
and German f ighting occurred there in that one of the deepest and most rapid
1916. It was within the American lines advances of the attack was made.
before the attack of September 26. The valley of Forges Creek, which the
(12.0 m 19.3 km) When Béthincourt road now follows, was in no man’s land
comes into plain view to the right front, when the American Army ar rived on this
a small marker is seen alongside the road. front. These slopes were covered with
This is a type of marker that has been thick bands of barbed wire which pro-
placed throughout France and Belgium to tected the main German trenches located
indicate the farthest advance of the Ger- near the crest of the ridge to the right.
man Armies in 1918. The center of the The Allied trenches were close to the top
jump-off line of the 80th Division, which of the ridge across the valley, with an
attacked on the morning of September 26 enormous area of wire entanglements and
i n t h e d i r e c t i o n o f B é t h i n c o u r t , wa s other obstacles in front of them. The
approximately at this point. whole countryside was a white, desolate
(12.7 m 20.4 km) After crossing the waste covered with interlocking shell
bridge over the creek, at the next road craters and great quantities of débris.
Road Constructed With Sandbags Across No Man’s Land
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 201

On September 26 the center of this val- in advancing up the valley which the road
ley was a spongy shell-torn morass. The follows beyond Malancour t. This was
infantry crossed it on boards which were due to the uneven character of the ground
carried from the American trenches and and the fact that the f irst waves of the
laid end to end across the mud. Later division attack passed by many German
the engineers and pioneer infantry units strong points in the thick fog.
accomplished the colossal task of building (16.4 m 26.4 km) About 1 1 / 2 miles far-
roads and bridges over it for the artillery ther on, at top of f irst hill, was a large,
and supply trains. To give an idea of the powerful f ield for tif ication called on
magnitude of the task, it may be stated French war maps the “Ouvrage du
that the construction of but one of these Démon” (Strongpoint of the Devil). By
roads required the use of 40,000 sand bags. looking to the rear from the road near the
(14.5 m 23.3 km) Beyond place where top of the hill, its commanding position is
road passes through a cut, in the next evident. Heavy machine-gun f ire from

German Plan Brought Down by Machine-Gun Fire Near Malancourt, October 3, 1918

shallow valley, the zone of action of the it stopped the advance of the 79th
79th Division during the attack is entered. Division troops during September 26.
(14.9 m 24.0 km) Straight through (16.5 m 26.6 km) To the left front is
Malancourt, which was a heap of ruins in seen a f ine view of the American monu-
1 9 1 8 . I t wa s c a p t u r e d b y t h e 7 9 t h ment on top of Montfaucon.
Division early on the morning of Septem- (16.8 m 27.0 km) To the right front con-
b e r 2 6 . T h e t ow n wa s t h e I I I C o r p s siderably beyond and to the right of
Headquarters, October 26–November 3. Montfaucon was located the line reached
The tour from this point on to Mont- by the 4th Division on the f irst day of the
faucon generally follows the direction of attack. The line of the 37th Division at
advance on September 26 of the attacking that time was just to the left of the hill.
units of the American First Army. (18.0 m 29.0 km) At monument in
The 79th Division had great diff iculty the ruined town of Montfaucon, STOP.
The Meuse-Argonne American Memorial at Montfaucon
The shaft is 180 feet high
This imposing monument, rising from
the ruins of the former village of Mont-
faucon, commemorates the brilliant
victory of the American First Army in the
Meuse-Argonne offensive and the heroic
services of the Armies of France before
that time on this important battle front.
I t wa s e r e c t e d by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s
Gover nment and is the largest of the
American war memorials in Europe.
Montfaucon is supposed to date back
to the 6th Century when it grew up as a
m a r k e t t ow n a r o u n d a m o n a s t e r y.
N u m e r o u s b a t t l e s h av e t a k e n p l a c e
in its vicinity. In one, fought against
the Nor mans about 888 A. D., 19,000
dead are said to have been left on the
battlef ield. During the Hundred Years’
War the district vas frequently ravaged
by bands of robbers; during the Reli-
g i o u s Wa r s o f t h e 1 6 t h C e n t u r y, i t
was taken and bur ned; while in 1636
the town was again destroyed. In 1792,
it was captured by Prussian troops taking
part in the Valmy campaign.
W h i l e m a k i n g e x c ava t i o n s f o r t h e Interior of Church at Montfaucon in 1914
foundations of the monument, an old
underground passage, hollowed out of the by the American troops. The two large
soft rock, was found running from the words at the sides, Meuse and Argonne,
ruins behind the monument to the foot were placed in that order as the American
of the hill. To the left of the shaft as lighting in this vicinity is off icially known
seen from the parking plaza, about 12 as the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
feet underground, was found a cemetery On the wall around the main terrace
probably dating from the Middle Ages, are listed the divisions which formed the
and under the front end of the wall on the First Ar my and under each name are
right side of the main terrace were three g i v e n t h r e e p l a c e s , n ow f a m o u s i n
old cellars, one below the other, the lowest American militar y history, where hard
o n e ev i d e n t ly h av i n g b e e n u s e d a s a fighting of the division concerned occurred.
dungeon. A small pot containing a few Church at Montfaucon in 1917
gold and silver pieces dated about 1750
was also discovered on the site.
The monument has the form of a
Doric column sur mounted by a f igure
representing Liberty. It faces the First
Ar my jump-off line of September 26.
From the observation platforms at the
top, a large portion of the Meuse-Argonne
battlef ield is plainly to be seen.
Across the front of the monument
appear in large letters the names of the
four most important areas, from a military
point of view, in the territory captured

(203)
Corner of Observation Terrace, Meuse-Argonne Monument,
Showing Direction Arrows

Inside the entrance door is a small vestibule, dec-


orated with flags of the United States and France.
Carved on its walls are a brief description in French
and English of the American operations, a colored
map illustrating the American offensive in this
region, and a tribute by General Pershing, the Com-
mander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary
Forces, to his off icers and men who served here.
The observation platforms, from which superb
views are obtained, are reached by the circular
stairway leading up from the base of the shaft.
It is a climb of 234 steps. Eleven of the thirteen
landings are provided with benches where those
ascending the tower may stop to rest.
The following is written to be read from the obser-
vation platforms. Those not climbing the tower
should read Part I from the terrace in front of the
monument and Part II from the large crucif ix, on
the other side of the hill, 400 yards from here
along the road toward the village of Nantillois.

Map and Inscription Carved Church at Montfaucon in 1927


on Interior Wall
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 205

P ART I way between the Meuse River (6 miles to


Climb tower, go to platform overlooking the left of here, just beyond the large
plaza in front of monument and face so wood, Bois de Forges, seen on the long hill
as to look along the center of the approach in the near distance) and the Argonne For-
steps, which direction is south. est (the wooded plateau near the sky line
Spread out below the obser ver in a to the right), its dominating height
magnif icent panorama is the grand over afforded the enemy excellent observation.
which the American Ar my attacked on Inherently strong, it had been carefully
t h e f i r s t d ay o f t h e M e u s e - A rg o n n e prepared for defense and was a veritable
offensive. The trenches and f ields of for tress organized with deep shelters,
barbed wire that criss-crossed this area c o n c e a l e d o b s e r va t i o n p o s t s a n d o b -
are no longer visible, the shell holes and stacles of all kinds. Its strength, almost
c o n c r e t e e m p l a c e m e n t s t h a t g av e i t a legend to those who had served in the
the appearance of a desolate waste are region, constituted a formidable mental
gone, but the woods, hills and streams as well as physical obstacle to any advance.
are still here and the names of the In view of the strength of the German
farms and towns, which have been rebuilt, position on this front, it was perhaps
recall the glories and sacrif ices of the f o r t u n a t e t h a t i t wa s a s s i g n e d t o t h e
troops who fought near them. young and virile American Army.
This hill, an extremely important fea- The direction ar rows on the parapets of
ture in the German second position, had the observation platforms should be used
looked down upon the f ighting in front of to aid in locating the places mentioned in
here since 1914. Located as it is, mid- the following description of the operations.
American Memorial at Montfaucon Viewed From an Airplane,
Looking North
Airplane Photograph of Montfaucon, Looking South, Taken During the War
Arrow indicates sketched-in position of Meuse-Argonne American Memorial
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 207

Panorama Looking South From Upper Platform,


Montfaucon Monument

The line taken over by the First Army American troops were in place on this
in September and from which it jumped front and the Army was ready for battle.
off on the morning of September 26 was At 2:30 a. m. on September 26, the
generally parallel to the front of this horizon in front of here lit up with a flash
monument. It ran from a point on the as thousands of cannon blazed into action.
Meuse River beyond the right edge of the Explosions of all sorts followed each other
Bois de Forges; passed this side of Hill with deafening noise like continuous peals
304, the hill with a monument on its sum- of thunder. About 5: 30 a. m. the noise
mit to the left front just beyond the f irst slackened somewhat as most of the cannon
town, Malancour t; and over Vauquois prepared to f ire on new targets. Some of
Hill, the large isolated oval-shaped hill the heavier guns had already started to
6 miles away to the right front. shell with high explosives this hill and
The III Corps, whose operations were other known obser vation points. Now,
described at the last stop, jumped off on just before dawn, the smaller ones were
the front from the Meuse River to Hill set to perform the new mission of creat-
304; the V Cor ps from Hill 304 to Vau- ing a bar rage of exploding shells, which
quois Hill; and the I Corps, whose opera- would move forward in front of the in-
tions will be described further at the next fantr y who, at this time, were tensely
stop, from Vauquois Hill to near the watching and waiting for the coming
far edge of the Argonne Forest. Each hour of attack in their jump-off positions.
corps had three divisions in line for the Soon thereafter a new note was added
attack. In order from the observer’s left to the din as innumerable machine guns,
to right, they were the 33d, 80th and 4th automatic rifles and rifles along the front
of the III Corps, the 79th, 37th and 91st went into action. This was evidence to
of the V Corps, and the 35th, 28th and the sur prised Germans on this hill that a
77th of the I Cor ps. Montf aucon was general offensive had started.
in the zone of action of the 79th Division. It was not long before the rifle and
The preparations for the attack here machine-gun f ire to the left front was
had necessarily been hurried, as the offen- heard getting closer and closer. About
sive of the First Army in the St. Mihiel 1 0 : 0 0 a . m . t h e f og l i f t e d a n d s m a l l
region had been completed only ten days groups of khaki-clad soldiers of the 4th
before. In spite of the short time, how- D iv i s i o n we r e o b s e r ve d m ov i n g n e a r
ever, on the evening of September 25 the Septsarges, the nearest village seen to the
208 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama Looking East From Upper Platform,


Montfaucon Monument

left, where they captured an undamaged diff iculty in advancing in this direction up
battery of German artillery which was the valley from that village, as well as
later used effectively against its former through the left part of the large wood in
owners. (See picture on page 211.) front of here. Consequently, no assault
Farther away to the left, troops of the was made by that division on Montfaucon
30th Division could be seen near the Bois until about 6:00 p. m., when the 79th and
de Sachet, the large wood beyond and to 37th Divisions launched an attack across
the right of Septsarges, and still farther the machine-gun-swept ground an this side
away t h o s e o f t h e 3 3 d D iv i s i o n n e a r of the wood, seen to the front. Assisted
Drillancour t, the village on the open by tanks, but without artillery support,
ground to the right of that wood. the slopes of this hill were reached in
About 11:00 a. m., to the front and the face of heavy f ire, but as night was
right, the leading lines of the 37th Division coming on, the attack was given up.
emerged from the Bois de Montfaucon, Although Montfaucon remained in Ger-
the large wood in that direction. They man hands, the achievements of the Ameri-
crossed the open ground this side of the can Army on September 26 were more
wood and after capturing a German trench than had actually been expected. Ad-
system in the f ield near the road, seen run- vances of about 5 miles from the jump-off
ning to the right front from this hill, line had been made on both sides of this
started changing it into an American posi- hill and its capture was almost a certainty
tion. Still farther to the right, soldiers of within a ver y shor t time. The highly
the 91st Division were on the open ground organized German forward positions were
to the right of the large wood, Bois Ché- all in American hands, in addition to
hémin, seen to the rightfront, having made thousands of prisoners, many cannon and
an advance of more than 3 miles. vast stores of supplies and ammunition.
The 79th Division promptly captured The battle for Montfaucon was renewed
Malancourt, seen to the left front, but had in a rainstorm at dawn on September 27
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 209

the hill being attacked by the 37th Divi- halfway between here and the nearest
sion from the observer' s right and by the large wood in that direction. It then bent
7 9 t h D iv i s i o n f r o m t h e f r o n t . T h e back shar ply, passing the other side of
last machine-gun nest was f inally wiped this hill, curved forward again to near
out and the hill cleared of the enemy about Epinonville, the third village seen to the
noon by troops of the 79th Division. left, and continued on to include Varennes,
Henceforth Montfaucon served as an the village seen to the left rear below the
American observation point. wooded heights on the sky line.
The First Army on September 27 con-
PART II
tinued its assaults, which were met by
After visiting the side platform, 1 go to frantic resistance from German infantry
the rear one and read the following: and machine gun units that had taken up
The assault on September 26 surprised new positions during the night and by
the Germans and disrupted their defense, unusually heavy artillery concentrations.
but this situation was only momentar y. A large part of the American artillery
From that day on the f ighting was prob- had been unable to move forward because
ably unsur passed during the World War of the absence of roads over the torn-up
for dogged determination on both sides. g round of the old no man’s land and,
Each foot of ground was stubbornly con- therefore, was not in a position on that
tested and the hostile troops took advan- d ay e ff e c t ive ly t o s u p p o r t t h e i n i t i a l
tage of every available spot from which inf antr y assaults or to keep down the
to pour enf ilade and cross f ire into the enemy shellf ire. In spite of this and the
advancing American troops. shortage of tanks, the assault units
The line reached on the f irst day of the attacked energetically and substantial
attack included Dannevoux, seen to the gains were made during the day although
right about 5 miles away in the cup-shaped many of them could not be retained.
valley, and the Bois de Septsarges, the On September 28, with better artillery
long narrow wood to the right front, about support, the Army surged forward about
1
The panoramic sketches on these pages show 1 1 / 2 m i l e s . A f t e r s ev e r e f i g h t i n g i t
most of the ground seen from the side platforms. reached that day a line marked generally by

Panorama Looking West From Upper Platform,


Montfaucon Monument
210 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama Looking North From Upper Platform,


Montfaucon Monument
the far edges of the Bois de la Côte 37th and 79th Divisions were replaced
Lémont and the Bois de Brieulles, the by the 1st, 32d and 3d, while the 33d ex-
two nearest adjoining large woods to the tended its front and relieved the 80th
right front; the slopes beyond Nantillois, Division. In all, a movement of more
the nearest town to the front; the Bois than 125,000 off icers and men in and out
de Beuge, the f irst isolated wood to the of the line was made. As the roads and
left front: and Apremont, the village seen transportation facilities on the newly cap-
to the left in the distance near the foot of tured ground were improved, the wounded
the heavily wooded heights. were taken to hospitals in the rear and
On September 29 the attacks of the large quantities of supplies, ammunition
First Ar my were energetically pushed and artillery were moved forward.
against stiffer resistance, as the enemy The American casualties up to this time
had reinforced his front line near here by h a d t o t a l e d ov e r 2 3 , 0 0 0 . T h e Fi r s t
six fresh divisions. This f ighting was ex- A r my h a d p e n e t r a t e d t h e f o r m i d a bl e
ceptionally bitter, the Germans making hostile positions for more than 6 miles
many severe counterattacks and concen- and included among its captures 9,000
trated ar tiller y bombardments. During men and 100 pieces of artillery.
the day the ground gained and lost on this The progress on this front threw con-
front by both sides was about equal. sternation into the German High Com-
For a few days after these attacks the mand, who realized that the American
Army devoted its efforts toward prepar- Army here could not long be held in check.
ing for a renewal of the offensive. Its It urged its Gover nment, therefore, to
troops in the line were worn out by four make peace at once before disaster over-
days of terrif ic f ighting and the advance came the German forces in the f ield.
had been so rapid that much of the heavy The First Army on October 1 faced the
artillery and many of the supplies could outpost zone of the famous Hinden-
not be brought up until the roads were burg Line along a considerable part of its
rebuilt. During this pause, which was front to the east of the Argonne Forest.
normal in every general attack, the 35th, The Hindenburg Line in front of here
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 211

i n c l u d e d t h e l o n g h i g h wo o d e d a r e a , I Cor ps, the 1st Division faced the large


Bois de Forêt, to the left of and just this isolated wooded area called Montrebeau,
side of Dun-sur-Meuse, which is seen visible in the distance to the left well
on a low pointed hill to the right of front beyond the nearest towns seen in that
in the distance; a large por tion of the direction; the 28th was to the left of the
wood, Bois de Fays, seen an this side of 1st with its left flank in the Argonne
the right part of the Bois de Forêt and Forest; and the line of the 77th Division
apparently connected with it; the open was entirely within the forest. The ini-
ground just this side of Cunel, the village tial assault was a success and splendid
to the front in the distance between the advances were made all along the front,
wo o d s ; a n d C ô t e D a m e M a r i e , t h e including a foothold in the Hindenburg
prominent hill to the left front. It ran Line in the Bois de Fays.
through the large wooded area dotted The progress of the First Army from
with hills, called Romagne Heights, seen October 5 to October 22 was slow but
in the near distance to the left front, and steady. In spite of the fact that it was
continued on to the North Sea. In ad- f ighting against an enemy with his back
vancing to and gaining a foothold in that to the wall, who fully realized that this
l i n e , t h e Fi r s t A r my h a d i t s h a r d e s t front must be held at all costs, and over
f ighting and the off icers and men passed ter rain favorable for defense, almost
through their most terrif ic ordeal. daily gains were made. In the face of
The battle was renewed with full vigor all obstacles and hardships and the most
on October 4. The attacking divisions desperate resistance, the American Army
of the III Corps were: the 4th Division during this period doggedly and persist-
in line to the right of Nantillois, the f irst ently fought its way forward.
village seen on the open ground directly On October 7 a flank attack was
ahead, and the 80th, which had reen- launched against the Argonne Forest by
tered :he line, just beyond that town. the 28th Division and the 82d Division,
In the V Corps, the 3d was in front of which had entered the line for that pur-
and to ne right of Cierges, the nearest pose. This attack was directed against
village to the left front; and the 32d C h â t e l - C h é h é r y a n d C o r n ay, t h e t wo
Division, which had relieved the 91st, villages seen to the left in the distance on
jumped off from a line which included the the wooded heights beyond and to the
wood seen to the left of Cierges. In the right of Montrebeau, and was made in
Battery of German Guns Being Used by the 4th Division
Near Septsarges, October 1918
212 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

the direction of the reader’s line of vision to the Argonne Forest launched powerful
when facing those places. The maneuver assaults. This f ighting was extremely
was unusually effective and within the bitter, positions of the Hindenburg Line
n ex t t h r e e d ay s t h e e n e my h a d b e e n being carried on a front of 2 miles just
driven from the Argonne Forest, which this side of Cunel and Romagne, the vil-
ends at the gap on the skyline to the left lage seen to the left of Cunel and about
of the isolated peak, Montrefagne, seen t h e s a m e d i s t a n c e away. T h e g e n e r a l
in the distance to the left front. attacks were continued on the 11th and
On October 8 an attack was made on that day the Ar my, along most of the
that part of the Army front beyond the remainder of its front on this side of the
Meuse River. The American 29th and Meuse, fought its way forward much
33d Divisions and two French divisions closer to the Hindenburg Line.
drove forward a distance of 2 1 / 2 miles on Another general attack was made on
that day, capturing a large part of the October 14, and after f ighting of the most
heights from which German artillery had desperate character on that and on the
been f iring on the flank and rear of the d ay s i m m e d i a t e l y f o l l ow i n g , m a ny
t r o o p s o n t h i s s i d e o f t h e r ive r. T h e more strong positions in or beyond the
29th Division captured the wedge-shaped Hindenburg Line were torn from the en-
wood, Bois de Consenvoye, seen beyond e my. A m o n g t h e s e we r e t h e B o i s d e
Gercourt, the village to the right of and la Pultière, just beyond Cunel, captured
beyond Septsarges, and the 33d Division by the 3d and 5th Divisions, and the
reached the Bois de Chaume, the line of dominating Côte Dame Marie taken by the
woods extending down to the left from 32d Division. By October 22, all of the
near the Bois de Consenvoye. The at- B o i s d e Fo r ê t , C u n e l H e i g h t s a n d
tacks there were pushed vigorously for Romagne Heights were in American pos-
several days and additional substantial s e s s i o n a n d t h e Fi r s t A r my wa s we l l
gains were made, including the capture beyond the last prepared German posi-
of the Bois de Chaume. tion at the center of its front. At that
On October 9 the V Cor ps in front of time the units of the Army started care-
here attacked with great force and the ful preparations for a f inishing blow.
next day all divisions on the Army front During the f ighting between October
from Beaumont, beyond the Meuse River, 1 and 31, the American losses totaled

German Guard Division Returning From Hard Fighting, September 1918


This division opposed the American attack on September 26, 1918. © G
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 213

over 75,000 off icers and men. The 5th, side and had progressed about 10 miles
26th, 42d, 78th, 82d, 89th and 90th Divi- beyond the river onto the Woëvre Plain.
sions, in addition to those previously Thus the war ended. The Ger man
mentioned, joined in the battle, relieving Army had been driven back 35 miles on
tired divisions. During this period 36 this the most vital part of its front. The
different German divisions were employed natural energy, ability and eff iciency in
on this front west of Fresnes-en-Woëvre, battle of the American soldiers and off i-
several having been engaged twice. The cers had prevailed against one of the
area of this f ighting will be visited later, f inest military foxes of the world. Al-
when a more detailed account will be given. though the Germans were f ighting with
The last great American offensive of the desperation and all the skill they possessed
war was launched on November 1, com- to deny any progress whatsoever to the
pletely breaking through the enemy lines. American forces, and were throwing onto
All troops of the Army in front of here this front fresh reserves drawn from many
pushed forward. The formidable Barri- other par ts of the Wester n Front, the
court Heights, the wooded heights seen tremendous thrusts of the First Army at
on the horizon just to the left of the this point could not be withstood.
observer’s front, were carried on the f irst T h e b a t t l e h e r e wa s t h e g r e a t e s t i n
day and by November 6 the American American histor y. Its successful con-
light ar tillery was f iring on the Metz- clusion is a great tribute to the American
S e d a n - M é z i è r e s r a i lway, t h e p r i m a r y soldiers, their leaders and those behind
o b j e c t iv e o f t h e Fi r s t A r my. O n t h e the lines and at home who so whole-
morning of November 7 American units heartedly and eff iciently supported the
were on the hills overlooking Sedan, 31 combat armies in the f ield.
m i l e s aw ay. O n t h a t w r y d ay, t h e Before leaving this obser vation plat-
German representatives crossed the battle form, the long gray stone building to the
lines to ask for an immediate armistice. left front in the near distance should be
From November 7 on to the Armistice noted. It is the chapel of the Meuse-
at 11:00 a. m., November 11, the First A rg o n n e , A m e r i c a n C e m e t e r y, wh i c h
Army advanced in the direction to the stands on a hillside above the graves of
right front from here. By the Armistice more than 14,000 American soldiers whose
it had forced its way across the Meuse f inal resting place is there. No more
River, captured the heights on the far f itting site could have been chosen for
German Reserves Being Brought Up for a Counterattack,
October 1918. © G
214 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

these battle dead than the gentle slopes


of the valley joining Cunel and Romagne,
wh e r e d e e d s o f d a r i n g , d evo t i o n a n d
heroism were unsur passed.
M o n t f a u c o n w a s t h e 3 d D iv i s i o n
Headquarters, October 3–14 and October
26–31. The 79th Division Headquarters
was located 600 yards south of Mont-
faucon from September 27 to October 1.
The ground surrounding this monu-
ment is being maintained as far as prac-
ticable in its wartime state. Many relics
of the war, including machine-gun posts,
concrete shelters and dugouts still exist.
A walk over it will prove most interesting. 37th Division Memorial at Montfaucon
Beyond the ruins of the church, about
300 yards from this monument, on the In the new village of Montfaucon is an
road to Nantillois are located the foun- almshouse constructed for this community
dations of a house with several inscrip- by the State of Ohio as a memorial to the
tion plaques on the posts of the front 37th Division, many of whose soldiers
fence which is still standing. In this came from that state. To visit, turn right
house, which was repaired from time to at next crossroad and go to main square of
time by the Germans, was built a heavy lawn. Time of side trip—15 minutes.
concealed concrete tower, equipped with a (18.3 m 29.5 km) Just before reaching
large periscope. It is said that in 1916 road crossing at foot of hill, the zone of
the German Crown Prince watched his action of the 37th Division is entered.
t r o o p s b a t t l e f o r Ve r d u n f r o m t h a t In the f ighting near here on September
obser vator y. The periscope is now in 27, First Lieutenant Fred Kochli, Ser-
t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s M i l i t a r y A c a d e my geant Orum B. Lee and Corporal Ernest
Museum at West Point, New York. R. Rumbaugh, 37th Division, took an
i m p o r t a n t p a r t , f o r wh i c h e a c h wa s
EN ROUTE MONTFAUCON TO VAQUOIS awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Leave plaza at same side as entered, When the right of the division was held
turn right immediately; 80 yards farther up by machine-gun f ire early that morn-
turn sharply to the right toward Cheppy. ing, two combat patrols were sent to
clean out the machine guns on the slopes
37th Division Engineers Repairing Road of Montfaucon to the right of this road.
Near Montfaucon, September 28, 1918 One patrol was unsuccessful and the
other was stopped by heavy f ire soon
after it started. Lieutenant Kochli then
asked for and received permission to lead
the latter patrol which comprised 24 men.
Under his bold leadership the patrol
attacked and captured 14 heavy machine
guns, 3 off icers and 23 enlisted men. He
put most of his patrol on guard over the
p r i s o n e r s a n d c o n t i n u e d o n ove r 2 0 0
yards farther up the hill with Sergeant
Lee and Corporal Rumbaugh under
heavy f ire. These three then captured
three 77-millimeter f ield guns and two
light machine guns in the orchard close
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 215

to the near edge of the old town. The


hostile f ire was so heavy that the three
Americans were forced to take cover in a
shell hole, where they held out practically
surrounded by the enemy for a consider-
able time until reinforcements arrived.
(18.7 m 30.1 km) Beyond road cross-
ing, at first crest, to the rear is seen a fine
view of the hill of Montfaucon.
(18.9 m 30.4 km) To the right, near top
of ridge beyond the wide valley, was
located a strong German trench line
which was captured by the 37th Division
on September 26. The next morning an
attack was launched from there against
Ivoiry, beyond the ridge. That town was A Typical Scene in the Argonne Forest,
captured and the front line was moved Southwest of Varennes
forward about 3 / 4 mile in spite of heavy
hostile f ire and a deter mined German t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l M e d a l o f H o n o r.
counterattack. During the afternoon (20.4 m 32.8 km) In next wood, Bois
the ground gained was given up because Chéhémin, just this side of road junction,
of heavy enemy shelling and the failure the zone of the 91st Division is entered.
of the rest of the division to advance. (20.6 m 33.2 km) After leaving wood,
During the f ighting there Second Lieu- in the distance to the left front is seen
tenant Albert E. Baesel, 37th Divi- La Neuve Grange Farm, which was cap-
sion, was killed while trying to rescue a tured by the 91st Division on the morning
wounded comrade lying about 200 yards of September 26 after a hard f ight. Near
in front of the assault line. Working his that farm Sergeant Chester H. West of
way through severe ar tillery, rifle and the 91st Division dashed through the
machine-gun f ire and a deluge of gas, he f ire of two German machine guns that
had just placed the wounded man on his had suddenly opened up on his company
shoulder when both he and the man were and killed the crews in hand-to-hand
killed by the enemy f ire. For this brave combat. By this prompt and decisive
exploit he was posthumously awarded action his unit was enabled to advance
without losses. For it he was awarded
the Congressional Medal of Honor.
155-Millimeter Tractor-Drawn Gun of the
(20.7 m 33.3 km) To the left front in
First Army After Being Hurled 40 feet
by a Direct Hit Near Charpentry the distance is seen Vauquois Hill.
(21.0 m 33.8 km) In the vicinity of this
road the 91st Division encountered strong
r e s i s t a n c e f r o m e n e my m a c h i n e g u n
g roups on September 26. It overcame
t h e m b e f o r e n o o n a n d d r ove f o r wa r d
about 2 miles farther that day.
(22.3 m 35.9 km) Immediately after the
road starts to descend into a valley, at
the f irst small ravine leading off to the
right from it the zone of action of the 35th
Division during the attack is entered.
The 35th Division, which jumped off
from near Vauquois, reached the German
main line of resistance on top of the hill

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216 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Street in Cheppy, October 6, 1918


to the left of this road about 8:30 a. m. A monument erected by the State of
There a severe struggle took place and it Missouri in honor of her sons who died
was not until 12:30 p. m. that, with the in the World War is located at the road
assistance of tanks, the strong enemy
positions on that hill were captured.
(23.1 m 37.2 km) In the next village, Missouri Monument Near Cheppy
Cheppy, the troops who had stormed the
powerful main line of resistance of the
German f irst position near here assemb-
l e d a n d r e o rga n i z e d b e f o r e r e n ew i n g
their attacks at 3:30 p. m.
It was during the f ighting in this vicin-
ity that Captain Alexander R. Skinker,
35th Division, won the Cong ressional
M e d a l o f H o n o r. W h e n h i s c o m p a ny
was held up by terrif ic machine-gun f ire
from “pillboxes” in a strong German posi-
tion, he personally led an automatic rifle-
man and a car rier in an attack on the
guns. The carrier was killed instantly, but
C a p t a i n S k i n ke r s e i z e d t h e a m m u n i -
tion and continued through an opening in
the barbed wire, feeding the automatic
rifle until he, too, was killed.
A for mer Ger man command post in
town was used as the 35th Division Head-
quarters, September 28–October 2; the
1st Division Headquar ters, September
30–October 13; the 42d Division Head-
quarters, October 11–19: and the V Corps
Headquarters, October 21-November 6.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 217

junction beyond town. Many Missouri- to capture a f ifth machine-gun nest. For
ans served in the 35th Division, which his great courage and devotion to duty
had very hard f ighting near here. he was later posthumously awarded the
(23.4 m 37.7 km) Beyond bridge, at road Congressional Medal of Honor.
junction near monument bear left. (24.1 m 38.8 km) To the right front is
The tour now goes to Vauquois Hill, 1 Vauquois Hill. Openings of underground
mile away, from the top of which can be passages dug by the Germans can be seen
obtained a fine view of the Aire River valley (1937) on its near slopes.
and where unusually large mine craters can (24.8 m 40.0 km) At f irst junction
be seen. The climb up the steep hill must where a road enters sharply from right,
be made on foot. Those who can not make turn right on it towards Vauquois.
such an ascent may turn sharp right at next (25.3 m 40.7 km) At the next road fork,
road junction and rejoin the described route turn to the right.
at the church in Varennes. That part of ( 2 5 . 8 m 4 1 . 5 k m ) I n n ex t v i l l a ge ,
the itinerary not followed should be read. Vauquois, 60 yards beyond church, just
(23.6 m 38.0 km) Beyond next road before reaching road junction, STOP.
junction, to the left front on far side of Follow path, 300 yards, to summit of
small valley, is seen the locality of the hill. For most of the way the path is in
heroic exploits of Private Nels Wold, 35th an Allied communication trench. It is a
Division. Assisted by one other soldier, hard climb but well worth while.
he silenced several machine-gun nests and The monument on top of the hill is a
captured 11 prisoners. He then gallantly French one in memory of the soldiers who
risked his life to aid a comrade, after fought in the vicinity and of the soldiers of
which he himself was killed in an attempt Vauquois who died during the World War.
Vauquois Hill From the Air, Looking Northeast
218 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama Looking North From Vauquois Hill


Cross craters to rim of hill opposite doned and a heavy concentration of ar-
monument and face Cheppy, the nearest tillery f ire, including gas and smoke shells,
village marked by the scattered houses. was placed an it. This forced the Ger-
(Note the above panoramic sketch.) The man troops here to remain in their bomb-
direction faced is approximately north. proof shelters and so blinded their ob-
Montfaucon is seen to the right front. servers that when the attack took place
The f irst large village which is plainly the 35th Division was able to make rapid
visible to the left front is Varennes. progress in the valleys to the right and
In 1914 the village of Vauquois stood left. Those advances isolated the hill
on this hill. It was of great military im- which was then cleared of the enemy by
portance because of its dominating height units especially designated for the pur-
and the facilities afforded by it for view- pose. After severe f ighting the division
ing the surrounding country. f r o n t l i n e va s e s t a bl i s h e d t h a t n i g h t
Before the United States entered the about 1 mile beyond Cheppy.
war, this place was the scene of large- The 35th Division continued its attacks
scale military mining operations by the during the next three days. By noon of
French and the Germans, during which September 28, after having repulsed a
the town located here was blasted away. German counterattack that mor ning, it
In these operations, deep tunnels were had captured Charpentry, the f irst village
built under the opposing lines and vast beyond Cheppy; Baulny, the village im-
quantities of explosives were set off in mediately to the left of Charpentry; and
them. The huge craters thus formed are the large wooded area called Montrebeau,
still to be seen behind the reader. seen beyond and between them in the dis-
The First Army front line on the morn- tance, 5 1 / 2 miles away. That night it dug
ing of September 26 ran across this hill in on the far edge of that wood. The
and through the Argonne Forest, the large next day the division attacked twice and
wo o d e d a r e a s e e n t o t h e l e f t . T h e I had made further substantial gains when
Corps with the 35th, 28th and 77th a vicious German counterattack by fresh
Divisions in line from right to left, at- troops, supported by large artillery con-
tacked from this part of the front. centrations from the Argonne Forest,
The German front line at the time of forced it back to Baulny. Its lines were
the attack was on this part of the hill, the there on October 1 when the division was
line held by the 35th Division being on relieved by the 1st Division.
t h e o p p o s i t e s i d e o f t h e c r a t e r. Five The 28th Division, whose zone of action
hours before the infantr y assault, all was half in the Argonne Forest, jumped off
American trenches on the hill were aban- on the other side of the Aire River, which
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 219

runs in the valley to the left of here. On f inding hard-won ground behind it, until
September 26 the division drove forward by October 1 the division was practically
vigorously and captured part of Varennes. abreast of the other divisions of the I
In the Argonne it made an advance of Cor ps, having made a total gain of 4
about 1 mile. It continued to advance miles over the difficult ground on its front.
during the next few days and by Septem- Outstanding among the deeds of valor
ber 29, after severe f ighting, had reached in the Argonne Forest, were those of First
a line beyond Apremont, the second vil- Lieutenant Dwite H. Schaffner of the 77th
lage seen in the distance to the right of Division on September 28. On that day
and beyond Varennes. he led his men in an attack against St.
The zone of action of the 77th Divi- Hubert’s Pavilion, about 5 miles to the
sion, which was the left flank unit of the left front from here, captured a strongly
I Corps and of the First Army, was en- entrenched position after severe hand-to-
tirely within the Argonne. That forest hand f ighting and by his braver y and
is a formidable natural obstacle, almost contempt of danger inspired his men to
impossible to walk through, with deep hold fast in the face of three determined
abrupt-sided ravines, heavy underbrush e n e my c o u n t e r a t t a c k s . H e p e r s o n a l ly
a n d m a ny r o c k o u t c r o p s . D u r i n g t h e discovered and put out of action a ma-
preceding four years on this front, the chine gun that was causing heavy casual-
Germans had skillfully prepared it for ties in his company. The third counter-
defense with concealed bands of barbed attack made by the enemy was initiated
wire, machine guns placed so as to f ire by the appearance of a small detachment
down lanes cut through the undergrowth, calling “Kamerad”, the word used by
machine-gun nests in trees, and many Ger man soldiers when they wanted to
ingenious traps to impede the progress of surrender. When they were almost with-
or inflict death on an advancing enemy. in reach of the American front line, the
In spite of all obstacles, the 77th Divi- attacking wave behind them appeared
sion drove forward in the initial assault and assaulted vigorously, causing heavy
about 1 mile. From then on it continued casualties in the American platoon hold-
to push its way forward, each day’s close ing the advanced position. Lieutenant
Tanks Manned by Americans Going Forward Near Boureuilles, September 26, 1918
220 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

American Artillery in Action Near Varennes

Schaffner mounted the parapet of the by the 35th Division to beyond Cheppy;
trench, killed a number of the enemy and and by the right of the 28th Division
f inally reached and shot the captain lead- to the other side of Varennes par tially
ing the attack. Dragging this wounded o u t f l a n k e d t h e A r g o n n e Fo r e s t a n d
off icer back into the company trenches, greatly helped the American troops to
Lieutenant Schaffner secured valuable advance through that diff icult area.
infor mation about the enemy strength During this f ighting the airplanes under
and position. As his company was sur- control of the American Army to a large
rounded on three sides for f ive hours extent kept down the Ger man aircraft
by strong enemy forces, the undaunted and secured valuable information con-
braver y, gallant soldierly conduct and c e r n i n g t h e e n e my. T h e A r my b a d ly
l e a d e r s h i p d i s p l ay e d b y L i e u t e n a n t n e e d e d t a n k s wh i c h i n t h e f i r s t t wo
Schaffner undoubtedly saved the sur- weeks of the offensive, due to casualties
vivors of his company from death or and the transfer away of some French
capture. For these acts he was awarded units, were greatly reduced in number.
the Congressional Medal of Honor. On the following page is reproduced a
The rapid advance made on the f irst section of a wartime map, scale 1/20,000,
day by the 91st Division of the V Corps showing Vauquois and its vicinity. This
to just this side of Epinonville, the village type of map was the one generally used by
seen to the right of and beyond Cheppy; American front-line units during the war.

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 221

German Dugouts in the Argonne Forest, 1918 © G

Before leaving Vauquois Hill a walk to town was captured by the 28th Division.
the left around the top of it will disclose Temporary roads were f irst built around
many large craters, additional evidences the craters by American Army engineers
of the war and interesting panoramas. and as soon as possible thereafter bridges
were constructed across them.
EN ROUTE VAUQUOIS TO NORTH
(27.5 m 44.3 km) At the church in the
OF FARM DES GRANGES
town turn to the right.
Leave Vauquois by road to left front. The tour here tur ns .northward along
(26.3 m 42.3 km) From the end of the Aire River and follows the general
Vauquois Hill to the next town, Boureuilles, direction of advance of the I Corps from
this road generally runs parallel to the September 26 to October 30.
former French front-line trenches. This road was one of the few main roads
(27.2 m 43.8 km) Just before reaching in the area of the American advance. It
Boureuilles, the zone of action of the 28th was of inestimable value in supplying the
Division during the attack is entered. soldiers in the front lines with the food,
The village of Boureuilles has been re- ammunition, supplies and equipment nec-
built on a new site. The old town, which essary to continue the attack.
was one of the most advanced points in In anticipation of further advances, the
the German lines, was located just to the construction of a standard-gauge railroad,
right (north) of the new village. It was generally following this road, was rushed
subjected to severe bombardments during from a place 5 miles south of here to the
the four years of war and was completely next town, Varennes. It was later ex-
destroyed. In 1916 the French exploded tended to Grandpré, 11 miles farther on.
a large mine under the road just south of Needless to say it proved of tremendous
town to impede an anticipated German value to the American Army.
advance. Later the Germans exploded a (27.9 m 44.9 km) Beyond Boureuilles,
mine north of the village. The enormous the prominent nose of the Argonne Forest
craters thus formed greatly hindered the seen to the left front is called the Côtes
American operations in 1918 after the des Perrières. The front line of the left
222 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Pennsylvania Memorial at Varennes, 1927

brigade of the 28th Division on Septem- o f H o n o r. H e wa s d r iv e r o f a t a n k ,


ber 26 and 27 was along the near side of operating against enemy machine-gun
that nose and on September 27 the 77th nests on the western edge of the town,
Division was abreast of the 28th Division when half of the tank turret was knocked
farther over in the forest. off by a direct artillery hit. Choked by
A large German wartime headquarters fumes from the high-explosive shell, he
named “Champ Mahaut” on French war left the tank and took cover in a shell hole
maps and now (1937) indicated on road 30 yards away. Noticing that the other
signs as the “Abris du Kronprinz” is member of the tank crew, an off icer, had
located 2 miles to the left front. Excellent not followed him, and thinking that he
examples of German concrete dugouts are might be alive, Corporal Call returned to
preserved there. To visit, turn left at the tank under intense machine-gun and
entrance to Varennes on road to Le Four de shell f ire and gallantly assisted the off icer
Paris. About 2 miles farther on turn right to react a place of safety.
and follow small road for 800 yards. Varennes is famous in French history as
Length of side trip—5 miles. Time re- the place where Louis XVI and Marie
quired—30 minutes. (See page 316.) Antoinette were captured in their attempt
(29.7 m 47.8 km) After entering the to escape into Belgium at the beginning of
next village, Varennes, a memorial park is t h e Fr e n c h R evo l u t i o n . T h e h o u s e i n
seen to the left. This park was improved which they spent the night prior to their
by the State of Pennsylvania in honor of capture is the last one of the row on the
all of her soldiers who served in the World right beyond the Pennsylvania monument.
Wa r, a l a r g e n u m b e r o f wh o m we r e This part of Varennes was captured by
members of the 28th Division. the 28th Division about noon on Septem-
D u r i n g t h e f i g h t i n g a t Va r e n n e s o n ber 26, shortly before the troops of the
September 26, Corporal Donald M. Call, 35th Division captured that part of the
Tank Corps, won the Congressional Medal village on the other side of the river.
28th Division Engineers Repairing a Destroyed Bridge at Boureuilles After Repairs
Bridge at Boureuilles, September 26, 1918 Had Been Made, September 28, 1918
The 28th Division Head-
quarters was located here,
September 27–30, and the
82d Division Headquarters,
from October 4 to 9.
(29.9 m 48.1 km) At bot-
tom of hill turn right and
cross the Aire River.
(30.4 m 48.9 km) Beyond
town, at first road junction,
turn to the left.
(32.0 m 51.5 km) After
ascending hill, beyond next
28th Division Troops in Varennes, September 26, 1918
main roadfork, at second
small crest, the line reached
by t h e 3 5 t h D iv i s i o n o n
September 26 is crossed.
T h e 2 8 t h D i v i s i o n wa s
across the valley from it.
(32.2 m 51.8 km) The first
village seen to the left front
on the other side of the
river is Montblainville, cap-
tured by the right brigade
of the 28th Division early
on the morning of Septem-
ber 27. The division was
held up by heavy machine-
gun f ire during that entire
day on the slopes beyond
t h e t ow n . I t r e p u l s e d a
hostile counterattack at
that place about noon.
(32.5 m 52.3 km) After Varennes, Looking West Across the Aire River, September 27, 1918
p a s s i n g M o n t bl a i nv i l l e ,
the village seen on the hill
down the road is Baulny,
t a ke n s o o n a f t e r d a r k o n
September 27 by troops of
the 35th Division.
(33.4 m 53.8 km) Beyond
Baulny, at f irst road junc-
t i o n , i n t h e l i t t l e va l l ey
leading off to the right was
located the front line upon
which troops of the 1st
Division relieved the 35th
Division on October 1.
(33.6 m 54.1 km) To the
left is seen a projecting
ridge of the Argonne Forest
plateau, called Le Chêne

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35th Division Artillery Near Varennes, September 27, 1918
224 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Tondu. The strong German second posi- was driven hack after bitter f ighting.
tion had been organized along that ridge During the f ighting there Major Joseph
and across the Argonne in a direction H. Thompson, 28th Division, performed
approximately at right angles to this the heroic acts for which he vas awarded
road. Le Chêne Tondu was the scene t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l M e d a l o f H o n o r.
of prolonged and intense f ighting by the When his battalion was counterattacked
28th Division for ten days from Sep- on September 29, although wounded, he
tember 28, the date the division f irst ob- encouraged his men by constantly brav-
tained a foothold on the ridge, until its ing the heavy f ire of machine guns and
capture was f inally completed in an attack ar tiller y. His courage was largely re-
on the morning of October 7. sponsible for the severe repulse of the
The position held by the so-called “Lost enemy. Again on October 1, after his
Battalion” was in the Argonne Forest to battalion once more had met a strong

An American Brigade Headquarters Was Located


in These Ruins in Apremont

the left of here. To visit that area, at next German counterattack, the advance of
road junction turn left to Apremont. At his assaulting companies was held up by
far edge of Apremont bear right on narrow f ire from a hostile machine-gun nest.
road toward Binarville. Length of side All but one of six accompanying tanks
trip—8.4 miles. Time required—1 hour. were disabled when Major Thompson,
(For exact location and description of the with great gallantry and coolness, rushed
position, See pages 562 to 365.) forward on foot three separate times in
(34.0 m 54.7 km) The next village advance of the assaulting lines and under
across the valley is Apremont. It was heavy machine-gun and anti-tank gun
captured by the 28th Division on Sep- f ire led the one remaining tank to within
tember 28, the division line that night a few yards of the enemy where it was
being established around the hill seen successful in putting the machine-gun
extending to the right from the town. n e s t o u t o f a c t i o n . T h i s b r av e d e e d
Twice on September 29 strong German p e r m i t t e d t h e i n f a n t r y t o a d va n c e .
attacks penetrated the American lines (35.5 m 57.1 km) At top of next hill, the
near Apremont but each time the enemy Farm des Granges is passed on the left.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 225

Panorama Looking Northeast From Stop Near Farm des Granges

(35.7 m 57.5 km) Beyond the farm, at for defense so that troops who attempted
the next small crest, where a clear view to advance down the valley of the Aire in
is obtained to the front and right, STOP. the direction the observer is facing, or over
If the trees along the road obstruct the the open ground in front of this point,
view walk off from the road sufficiently to see were not only subjected to frontal f ire
the places pointed out in the following text. but were caught by enf ilade f ire from
Face down the road, which direction these two strong positions on their flanks.
is approximately north. On the hillside about a mile to the right
The American monument on Montfau- are seen the b uildings of Beauregard
con is on the sky line to the right rear. Farm. The most prominent peak to the
The area around this point was the scene right front is called Montrefagne.
of prolonged f ighting in late September Montrebeau, the large timbered area to
and early October 1918 during which the the right rear, was captured on September
Germans were driven from carefully pre- 28 by troops of the 35th Division.
pared defensive positions, constr ucted On September 29 the division attacked
with the idea that they would be impreg- from the edge of Montrebeau under ex-
nable. All g round within the range of tremely heavy hostile f ire and succeeded
vision was captured by the First Army. in occupying Beauregard Farm and the
The wooded hills to the right front, southern slope of Montrefagne as well as
which were known collectively as Ro- Exermont, which, invisible from here, lies
magne Heights, are a natural terrain in the valley near Beauregard Farm. A
feature that had been organized by the severe counterattack on that afternoon
Germans into a powerful fortif ied area. by fresh German troops, supported by a
The Argonne Forest, seen across the val- heavy and well-directed ar tiller y f ire
ley to the left, had been similarly prepared f r o m t h e A rg o n n e Fo r e s t , f o r c e d t h e

Battery of 155-Millimeter Artillery of the First Army in Action Near Baulny, October 7, 1918
226 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

units of the 35th Division back again to which were too exposed to hold, to its
a position the other side of Montrebeau. former lines near Apremont. There, dur-
On that same day the 28th Division had ing the course of the evening, the division
unusually severe f ighting to the left rear repulsed another strong German attack.
of this point beyond the Aire River. Early After September 29 the efforts of the
in the morning it advanced about 3 / 4 mile First Army to advance ceased for a few

along the river toward Châtel-Chéhéry, days, except for local attacks in the Ar-
the village seen to the left across the val- gonne Forest, as it prepared for a renewal
ley, and on the open fields near the river to of the offensive on a larger scale.
the left of that place beat off a severe Ger- After repulsing a German counterattack
man counterattack. That afternoon it on the 30th, the 35th Division, which in
withdrew from its advanced positions four days had fought its way forward
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 227

Panorama Looking West From Stop Near Farm des Granges

approximately 6 miles, was relieved from t h i s r o a d a n d t h e r ive r. T h e f i g h t i n g


the line on October 1 by the 1st Division. during October 4 and 5 on the ter rain
The First Army resumed the offensive near here was ter rif ic, the 1st Division
by a general attack on October 4. The 1st alone losing nearly 3,500 men.
Division on that day advanced in this T h e h i l l r i s i n g a b ov e t h e t ow n o f
direction from beyond Montrebeau, while Châtel-Chéhéry across the valley is Hill
the 28th drove forward along the near bank 244. The high, round peak seen imme-
of the river. The boundary between the diately to the right of the town is Hill
two divisions ran along this road. 223. The village which is plainly seen to
S u p p o r t e d by t a n k s a n d a c o n c e n - the left front is Cornay.
trated artillery f ire, the 1st Division in a After the deep advance of the First
vigorous advance captured Montrebeau, Army near here on October 4 and 5, the
Farm des Granges, Exermont and Beaure- Germans continued to hold the edge of the
g a r d Fa r m , a f t e r w h i c h i t a t t a c k e d A r g o n n e Fo r e s t i n t h i s v i c i n i t y a n d
Montrefagne, but was unable to take and from it kept up a continuous artillery f ire
hold that hill until the following morning. directly along and in rear of the lines of
The 28th Division pushed forward about the American units on this side of the
3 / 4 mile beyond this point, driving the river, inflicting heavy casualties.
enemy from most of the ground between In order to exploit the gains of the 1st

Tractor and 155-Millimeter Gun Put Out of Action by a Direct Hit Near Epinonville
228 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

and 28th Divisions on this side of the German second position (see the sketch on
Argonne, to stop the artillery f ire from this page) about 3 miles to the left war of
the forest and to relieve a detachment of this point, and if successful would force
the 77th Division (the “Lost Battalion”) the enemy to withdraw from that position
which had gone ahead of the rest of its and all of the Argonne Forest.
d iv i s i o n o n O c t o b e r 2 a n d h a d b e e n On the night of October 6 the 82d
sur rounded for several days in the Ar- Division took over a portion of the 28th

gonne Forest to the left war of here, it Division line along the river, to the left
was decided to launch an attack from front of here. The next morning both di-
this vicinity straight at the German v i s i o n s a t t a c ke d t owa r d t h e A rg o n n e
positions near Châtel-Chéhéry and Cor- Forest, the boundary line between them
nay. An attack in that direction would passing just north of Châtel-Chéhéry.
threaten the flank and rear of the hostile T h i s d a r i n g a t t a c k wa s r e m a r k a bly
forces which were then holding the strong successful in spite of desperate resistance.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 229

The 28th Division promptly captured


Châtel-Chéhér y and Hill 244, and the
82d Division took Hill 223 and the high
ground beyond the river between here
and Cor nay. Because of this advance
the Germans in the Argonne Forest began
a retirement during that day to a line ex-
tending to the reader’s left from Cornay,
approximately at right angles to the line
of vision when facing that place. While
t h e a t t a c k wa s p r og r e s s i n g , t h e 7 7 t h
Division advanced from the south and
effected the rescue of the survivors of the
“Lost Battalion”, whose prolonged defense
of an isolated position entirely within the 28th Division Artillery Firing While Under
enemy lines was an extraordinar y and a Gas Bombardment
thrilling exploit. (See pages 337 and 362.)
On October 8 the 28th and 82d Divi- t h i s t i m e o n , P r iva t e Yo r k , wh o wa s
sions again attacked. They reached and nearest the f iring, assumed command.
held against a vicious counterattack posi- The other members of the patrol took
tions controlling a road and light railway cover and f ired only a few shots in the
at the top of the ridge beyond Hill 223, f ighting which followed, as they occupied
thus cutting the most impor tant nor th themselves in guarding the Ger man
and south communications available to soldiers who had previously surrendered.
the Ger man Ar my in the forest. That Sheltering himself to some extent be-
night the 82d Division took over the hind the prisoners who were flat on the
front of the 28th, and in the next two ground Private York, in the face of the
days pushed the retreating Germans from
the wooded heights seen just beyond and
to the right of Cornay, while the 77th
Division, on its left, advanced rapidly
northward, meeting slight opposition.
In the course of the f ighting on October
8 occur red the extraordinar y exploits
of Private First Class Alvin C. York, 82d
Division. The advance of his regiment
across the valley beyond Hill 223 being
held up by heavy f ire from machine guns
on the wooded slope at the left end of the
valley, Private York was one of a patrol
of 17 men who were sent out to get be-
hind and silence the machine guns.
Carefully working their way through
the woods behind the enemy line, the
patrol surprised a battalion commander
and a large group of men in a clearing.
The Americans attacked and most of the
Germans had thrown up their hands to
sur render when a number of Ger man
rifles and machine guns, on a hillside a
short distance away, opened f ire killing Sergeant Alvin C. York,
and wounding nine of the patrol. From 82d Division, February 7, 1919
230 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

terrif ic fire, opened rapid f ire with his rifle with that corps. On October 8 consider-
and later with his pistol. He maintained able f ighting took place on the hills seen
this f ire until he, alone, had killed more to the right of Montrefagne, one of the
than 15 of the enemy and had forced the hills, Hill 269, being captured on that day
remainder of them to surrender. by a battalion of 1st Division engineers.
Forming the prisoners in a column Pri- I n t h e f i g h t i n g t h e r e t h e n e x t d ay,
vate York distributed the seven remain- Sergeant Wilbur E. Colyer, Engineers,
ing men of his patrol along it and started 1 s t D iv i s i o n , wo n t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l
back to the American lines with the Ger- Medal of Honor. Volunteering with two
man battalion commander in front of other soldiers to locate machine-gun nests,
him. More Germans were encountered Sergeant Colyer advanced on the hostile
on the way and were forced to surrender. positions to a point where he was half
Private York brought back to the Amer- surrounded by the nests, which were in
ican lines three wounded members of the ambush. He killed the gunner of one
original patrol and 132 prisoners, includ- machine gun with a German grenade and
ing f ive Ger man off icers. Largely on then turned this machine gun on the other
account of Private York’s exceptional nests, silencing all of them before he
coolness, skill with f irearms, bravery and retur ned to his platoon. He was later
leadership his regiment was able to con- killed in action against the enemy.
tinue its advance on this day. For his On October 9 the 1st Division attacked
exceptional exploits he was awarded the with the V Corps and stormed the long
Congressional Medal of Honor. wooded ridge seen to the left of and be-
Meanwhile, the 1st Division had con- yond Montrefagne. On the next day it
solidated its gains made on October 5 and seized Côte de Maldah, the double-crested
had carried on active patrolling. It was ridge seen to the left of the wooded ridge.
assigned to the V Cor ps on October 7 The taking of these ridges completed the
preparatory to making a general attack capture of this end of Romagne Heights.
1st Division Infantry on Montrefagne, North of Exermont,
October 11, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 231

1st Division Artillery in Fléville, October 12, 1918

During these two days the 181st Bri- EN ROUTE NORTH OF FARM DES GRANGES
gade of the 91st Division was attached to TO NEAR MARTINCOURT FARM
the 1st Division and fought on its right
flank, gaining considerable ground. (35.9 m 57.8 km) While descending
In the desperate f ighting near here the the hill, to the right in the valley, the
1st, 28th, 11th and 82d Divisions and the town of Exermont can be seen.
brigade of the 91st Division suffered The next village, Fléville, after having
a total of almost 18,000 casualties. Con- been taken but not held by units of the
stantly attacking, undaunted by almost 1st Division on October 4, was f inally
insuperable obstacles and the incessant captured by the division on October 9.
demands on their strength, the American (37.1 m 59.7 km) In town turn to the
soldiers on these f ields role to supreme left and cross the Aire River valley.
heights of sacrif ice and heroism. (37.6 m 60.5 km) While ascending the
Illustrative of these characteristics are next hill, Cornay is seen ahead. Troops
the deeds performed by Private Michael of the 82d Division entered that town
B. Ellis, 1st Division, on October 5 on before dark on October 8 and after mop-
the slopes to the nor th of Exer mont. ping up part of it withdrew about mid-
During the entire day’s engagement he night. On October 9, after a hard f ight,
operated in advance of the f irst wave of they drove the Germans from the village
his company, voluntarily under taking about 11:00 a. m. Shor tly after noon
most dangerous missions, attacking and the enemy launched a counterattack with
reducing machine-gun nests singlehanded. artillery preparation and recaptured Cor-
Flanking one emplacement he killed two nay, surrounding in it a small force of
of the enemy with rifle f ire and captured Americans who fought desperately from
1 7 o t h e r s . L a t e r h e a d va n c e d u n d e r house to house before being killed or
heavy f ire and captured 27 prisoners, captured. The town was f inally taken
including two off icers, and six machine and held during October 10.
guns. Soon thereafter he captured four (38.0 m 61.2 km) At the top of the hill,
other machine guns and their crews, at turn sharply to the right.
all times showing marked heroism and (39.1 m 62.9 km) Beyond the next
fearlessness. For his outstanding bravery road junction at the top of the f irst
and great accomplishments he was award- crest, where an extensive panorama is ob-
ed the Congressional Medal of Honor. tained to the right front and right, STOP.
232 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From

The nearest village is St. Juvin which left of that place. That position had
is on the other side of the Aire River. been thoroughly studied and surveyed
Fa c e t h a t t ow n , wh i c h d i r e c t i o n i s e a r l i e r i n t h e wa r, a n d l o c a t i o n s f o r
approximately north. artiller y and machine guns had been
Montfaucon is visible to the right rear, carefully selected and indicated on the
just to the left of Montrefagne, the ground. Some shelters and trenches had
wooded peak in that direction. been constructed, others mere traced, and
Note that the Aire River, which the much barbed wire had been laid before
tour has been following in a general way October 1918. The great strength of the
since leaving Boureuilles, changes direc- position lay, however, not so much in the
tion not far from St. Juvin and runs ap- works constructed on it as in the natural
proximately west in front of here, toward features of the ground and the thorough
the left directly across the line of vision c o o r d i n a t i o n o f t h e t i r e p owe r o f a l l
of the observer. (See sketch on page 234.) weapons, planned in accordance with the
The Hindenburg Line in this region was highest art of defensive warfare perfected
j u s t t o t h e o b s e r ve r ’s r i g h t o f C ô t e by the German Army during their previ-
de Châtillon, the conspicuous isolated ous four years of intensive f ighting.
wooded peak with the abrupt side seen St. Juvin was included in the outpost
to the right; passed just this side of position of the Hindenburg Line which had
Champigneulle, the village seen on top also been strongly organized for defense.
of the hill to the left of St. Juvin; and W h e n t h e I C o r p s a r r iv e d i n t h i s
extended along the heights seen to the vicinity on the afternoon of October 10,
its attempt to cross the Aire River dis-
1st Division Artillery, With Machine Gun closed that the bridges had been de-
Mounted for Anti-Aircraft Defense, Moving
stroyed and that the enemy was strongly
Toward the Front
h o l d i n g t h e H i n d e n bu rg L i n e a n d i t s
outpost line on the far side of the valley.
The corps was therefore faced, in front
and to the left of here, with the almost
impossible task of crossing the valley and
storming the formidable positions there.
The front line established by the Army
on October 10 was to the reader’s right
of Côte de Châtillon; just to the right
of Sommerance, the village seen to the right
across the valley; included Martincourt
Farm, seen in the trees to the right front;
and continued to the left on this side of
the Aire River for approximately 4 miles.
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 233

Stop Near Marcq

On October 11 the 1st Division, the right of St. Juvin and holding most of
left division of the V Cor ps, sent patrols its gains in spite of a counterattack.
i n t o S o m m e r a n c e . T h e 8 2 d D iv i s i o n , Some of its units fought in the right part
whose zone of action ran from that town o f t h e t ow n . T h e 7 7 t h D iv i s i o n c a p -
to just beyond the nose of the hill seen to tured St. Juvin and many prisoners in
the left, launched determined attacks that the town but all its efforts to cross the
same day. The right of its line, which river in force to the left front were un-
was beyond the river, was advanced to successful until after dark. Then it
the open ground seen just over the roof reached and held as a salient in its line
of Mar tincour t Far m. The left of the the last building, named La Lairesse on
division started from this vicinity in an wartime maps, seen in the valley to the
attempt to capture St. Juvin. The as- left of St. Juvin. That night the front
sault units crossed the river in a fog on line of the division was on the other side
bridges which the engineers had repaired. of St. Juvin and close to it.
Unfortunately the fog lifted while they The next day the assault planned for
were still close to the far bank and they early in the morning was delayed by a
were caught on open ground by severe strong German attack with heavy artil-
machine-gun f ire. After suffering heavy lery preparation, made about 6:45 a. m.,
casualties, they were forced to return to in the vicinity of St. Juvin. This was
their lines on this side of the river. beaten off, the American troops, particu-
T h e r e we r e n o A m e r i c a n a t t a c k s i n larly a machine gun company of the 82d
this vicinity on October 12 and 13 as the Division which had seized a part of the
units reorganized and consolidated their
Tank and Supply Wagon Blown Up by a
positions. During that period of time the
German Road Mine North of Fléville,
42d Division relieved the 1st. On the October 12, 1918
afternoon of October 13 a strong German
counterattack against that par t of the
32d Division line to the right front across
the river was driven back.
On October 14, in conjunction with the
French Fourth Army on its left, the First
Army launched a vigorous assault. On
this part of the front the I Corps attacked
with the 82d and 77th Divisions in line,
the boundary between the divisions pass-
ing just to the right of St. Juvin.
The 82d Division, on the right, in a
dashing attack advanced about 3 / 4 mile,
r e a c h i n g t h e H i n d e n b u rg L i n e t o t h e
234 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

hill north of St. Juvin just before the seen to the right. During that day the
attack, inflicting severe losses on the 7 8 t h a n d 8 2 d D iv i s i o n s i n v i g o r o u s
enemy. Later in the day the left of the attacks reached the near side of Cham-
82d Division advanced about 500 yards pigneulle, the village seen to the left of
to a position on the hill nor th of St. St. Juvin, but due to heavy hostile shell-
J u v i n i n c o n t a c t w i t h t h i s c o m p a ny. f ire could not hold their gains.
The 77th Division attacked Grandpré, The attacks of the 78th and 82d Divi-
a village to the left e miles away which sions in front of here were continued
will be passed through later in the tour, from October 17 to 19. This f ighting
but its attempts to gain a foothold in the was of a desperate character, the attack-
town were unsuccessful until next day. ing forces suffering many casualties from
The 77th Division was relieved by the the incessant f ire of the German batteries
78th Division on October 16, after having in the Bois de Bourgogne, the large wooded
been in the line sine September 21 and area on the sky line to the left front.
having advanced about 11 miles through One of the attacks on October 17 gained
the dense terrain of the Argonne. a foothold in the Bois des Loges, the
On October 16 after having tried to wood extending over the nearest high hill
capture the hill on the two previous days s e e n t o t h e l e f t f r o n t , wh i c h w a s a
the 42d Division in a brilliant assault strong position in the Hindenburg Line
stormed and captured Côte de Châtillon, fairly bristling with machine guns, and
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 235

another assault on October 19 reached October 11 to the end of the month were
Bellejoyeuse Farm, seen to the left front in excess of 13,000 off icers and men.
just below the near edge of the Bois de The Ar my prepared for its attack of
Bourgogne. By October 20, however, it November 1 with great care and made
had been proved that the Ger man de- full use of the lessons learned in its pre-
fenses across the river were too strong vious f ighting in this region. The various
to be taken without further preparations combat organizations which composed it
so, on that day, the 78th Division was were by that time well-coordinated f ight-
ordered back from its advanced positions i n g u n i t s , f u l ly t e s t e d i n b a t t l e , a n d
and established its line to the left front formed together a superb lighting force.
along the road across the valley marked in All three cor ps of the First Ar my on
places by the row of trees. The line of this side of the Meuse River were involved
the 82d Division remained beyond St. in the attack. The V Corps, in the cen-
Juvin, and on October 21 that part of it ter, which was already beyond the Hin-
to the right of St. Juvin was advanced denburg Line, was expected to make the
about 500 yards with little opposition. greatest advance. Its immediate objec-
Although the battle died down in front tive was Bar ricour t Heights, the high
of here on October 22, the 78th Division ground seen on the sky line just over and
attacked continuously in the vicinity of to the right of Mar tincourt Far m. The
Grandpré until the 27th, advancing its III Corps on the right was to pivot toward
lines in bitter f ighting more than 1 mile. the Meuse River. The I Cor ps on this
Because the American efforts to advanced flank was to protect the left of the V
there were so persistent and the place on Cor ps and to move forward as rapidly as
the front was such an important one, the possible. Its objective for the f irst day
Germans opposed the attacks with their was the high ground 4 miles away, seen
best troops. Consequently, the success just over the center of St. Juvin.
of the last major offensive of the First The attack was launched at 5:30 in the
Army on November 1 was greatly aided morning and was an outstanding success
as the German attention in this region from the start. The V Corps, with the 2d
had been drawn to the front near Grand- Division in line on this side of Côte de
pré, rather than that near Côte de Châtillon and the 89th on the other side
Châtillon at which point the vital thrust of it, drove forward rapidly and by early
of the Army was actually made. after noon had captured the Bar ricour t
The casualties of the 77th, 78th, 82d Heights, thus making certain an exten-
and 42d Divisions in this region from sive German retirement in this region.
Champigneulle After Its Capture by the 77th Division, November 2, 1918
Note destruction caused by American artillery f ire
236 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

The I Corps, in front of here, jumped The Bois de Bourgogne and the adjoin-
off with the 80th, 77th and 78th Divi- ing woods form a large forest area similar
sions in line from right to left, the 80th in character to the Argonne. On Novem-
and 77th having relieved the 82d to take b e r 1 s t r o n g a t t a c k s we r e n o t m a d e
par t in the attack. The 80th Division against that area but its eastern edge was
was on that part of the front located in heavily shelled with persistent gas. Its
the area seen over Mar tincour t Far m, evacuation was forced by the advance in
the 77th Division was beyond St. Juvin, front of here and the advance of the
and the front of the 78th ran from the French Fourth Army on the other side of
building, La Lairesse, previously pointed i t . Fr o m t h e t i m e wh e n , o n N ove m -
out in the valley to the left front, on to b e r 3 , t h e 7 8 t h D iv i s i o n m a d e c o n -
the left for approximately 4 miles. tact with a French division at Boult-
On November 1 the I Cor ps met stub- aux-Bois, about 9 miles to the left front
born resistance. The 80th Division was from here, the Bois de Bourgogne was
held in the left of its zone of action but its def initely in Allied hands.
right drove forward rapidly in conjunction The Army continued to push forward
with the 2d Division and captured part of v i g o r o u s ly u n t i l N ov e m b e r 7 w h e n
the wooded hill, Hill 289, seen on the sky American troops were an the hills domi-
line halfway between St. Juvin and Mar- nating Sedan, 24 miles directly to the
tincour t Farm. That hill can be easily front of here. It then changed the di-
identif ied (1937) by the high isolated tree rection of its attacks and on November
on its summit. The 77th Division gained 1 1 , t h e d ay o f t h e A r m i s t i c e , i t wa s
some ground on the ridge to the right of d r iv i n g f o r wa r d t o t h e r e a d e r ’s r i g h t
Champigneulle while the 78th captured beyond the Meuse River.
Bellejoyeuse Farm and a small section of The tour now goes west to Grandpré
the nearest part of the Bois des Loges. and at that place reverses its direction
Due to the deep penetration by the V and turns to the east along the far bank of
Cor ps, the Ger mans withdrew most of the Aire River, traversing as far as the
their troops on this part of the front dur- Meuse River ground captured during the
ing the night of November 1-2, leaving month of October. The tourist must be
behind machine gun units to delay the capful from now on to note the dates of
American advance. On November 2 that the various events as at this stop the op-
resistance was overcome and all divisions erations on this part of the Army front have
of the I Corps moved rapidly northward. been described up to the end of the war.
Terrain Near Marcq; Note the Barbed Wire
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 237

EN ROUTE NEAR MARTINCOURT FARM Most of the town is situated against a


TO EAST OF SOMMERANCE s t e e p h i l l u p o n wh i c h wa s l o c a t e d a
(39.9 m 64.2 km) Continue through citadel of groat strength. This citadel,
the next village, Marcq, which was cap- which was part of the outpost position
tured on October 10 by soldiers from both of the Hindenburg Line, was captured
the 77th and 82d Divisions. by t h e 7 8 t h D iv i s i o n o n O c t o b e r 2 3 ,
(40.2 m 64.7 km) At the far edge of the after it had been attacked on previous
village the zone of action of the 77th occasions by troops of that division as
Division during its advance is entered. well as by those of the 77th Division.
(41.1 m 66.1 km) While approaching It was for deeds performed on the 23d
the next village, Chevières, to the right while a member of the assaulting party
front on the ridge across the valley is which stormed and captured the citadel,
seen the road, marked by the row of trees, that Private Edward Rischmann, 78th
from which the 78th Division jumped off Division, was awarded the Distinguished
for the attack on November 1. Service Cross. He scaled the wall and
(41.6 m 66.9 km) Continue through a l o n e e n t e r e d a d u g o u t i n wh i c h h e
Chevières, which was captured on Octo- captured 46 Germans, holding them
ber 10 by troops of the 77th Division. prisoners until assistance arrived.
(42.6 m 68.6 km) Beyond the next hill, T h e G e r m a n s c l u n g d e s p e r a t e ly t o
the village seen ahead is Grandpré. It the remainder of the bluff for the next
was the scene at different times of stub- four days. It was f inally captured after
born f ighting by the 77th and 78th Divi- suff icient ground had been gained to its
sions, the 77th entering the town just left and rear (as seen from here) to permit
before its relief by the 78th on October 16. an assault to be made from the rear.
238
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Captured German Machine Gun on the Citadel Near Grandpré


Note the excellent f ield of f ire
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 239

On October 26 during the operations (43.2 m 69.5 km) In the center of the
at Grandpré, Sergeant William Sawelson, village of Grandpré, turn to the right.
78th Division, performed the heroic act (43.3 m 69.7 km) While proceeding
for which he was given the Congressional to exit of town, to the left on the high
M e d a l o f H o n o r. H e a r i n g a wo u n d e d bluff may be seen glimpses of the massive
man in a shell hole some distance away walls of the citadel. Its extreme strength
calling for water, Sergeant Sawelson, and that of the German positions near by
upon his own initiative, left shelter and are more evident from this point.
c r aw l e d t h r o u g h h e av y m a c h i n e - g u n (44.0 m 70.8 km) To the left front is
f ire to where the man lay, giving him seen the Farm des Loges, captured by the
what water he had in his canteen. He 78th Division on October 19 after severe
then went back to his own shell hole, hand-grenade f ighting. It was given up
obtained more water, and was returning t h e n ex t d ay a s t h e p o s i t i o n wa s t o o
to his wounded comrade when he was isolated to hold without excessive losses.
killed by a bullet from a machine gun. Rising above the farm is the Bois des

A Street in Grandpré, October 1918

Grandpré is on one of the two main Loges which was an ideal defensive posi-
passes traversing the plateau upon which tion for the Germans. The smooth
are located the Argonne Forest and the regular slopes on the lower part of the
B o i s d e B o u rg og n e . T h r o u g h o u t t h e hill afforded an excellent f ield of f ire and
ages these passes have been natural routes the wood at the top served to give f ine
of travel. Grandpré itself is reported to protection and concealment for the Ger-
have been founded by followers of Clovis man movements. The hill was attacked
about 500 A. D. The village has been by the American forces on a number of
subjected to much severe f ighting during occasions but was never captured until
its long and eventful history. after the German troops had started their
(42.9 m 69.0 km) After crossing the withdrawal from this part of the front
railroad near Grandpré turn to the right. d u r i n g t h e n i g h t o f N ov e m b e r 1 – 2 .
80th Division Marching Through St. Juvin After Relief From the Front Line
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 241

( 4 5 . 5 m 7 3 . 2 k m ) B eyo n d c re s t o f
next hill, to the right front across the
valley is seen Marcq and to its left Mar-
tincourt Farm. These were just within
the American lines on October 10. The
diff iculty of advancing across the valley
and up these steep slopes in the face of
rifle, machine-gun and artillery f ire is
better appreciated from here.
(46.4 m 74.7 km) While approaching
the next village, St. Juvin, extending to
the left from it is seen the hill, in the out-
post position of the Hindenburg Line,
which was captured by the 82d Division
on October 15 after a hard f ight.
American Observer Jumping From
(47.1 m 75.8 km) Continue through Captive Balloon
St. Juvin, captured on October 14 by the
77th Division after a severe struggle. The high ground immediately in rear
(47.4 m 76.3 km) Beyond town, the of here, which is part of the west end of
railroad seen to the right crossing the Romagne Heights, was captured by the
valley was not there during the war. 1st Division in a series of well executed
At road junction mentioned in the next attacks. The f ire of all available artillery
paragraph is located a monument erected of the division was concentrated upon
by the 1st Division listing those of the divi- each hill individually, while the infantry
sion who were killed in the f ighting in its pushed close up, prepared to assault. At
zone of action which was near here. a f ixed time the artillery shifted to a new
(48.0 m 77.2 km) At the next road target and the infantry charged the hill,
junction, turn to the left. occupying it before the remaining Ger-
This road and the next village, Som- mans had time to leave their shelters and
merance, were captured by the 82d Divi- offer suff icient resistance to stop the
sion an October 11. The division front progress of the American troops.
line from that date to October 13 was Côte de Maldah, the ground slop-
along the top of the ridge seen to the left. ing up to the left rear from here, was
(49.4 m 79.5 km) At main road junc- taken on October 10, about the same
tion in town, bear right toward Romagne. time that the division advanced through
After the battle had progressed beyond
S o m m e r a n c e , t h e p a r t i a l ly d e s t r oye d Machine Gun Unit in Position at St. Juvin
November 1, 1918
church in the village was used by the
Americans as a f irst-aid station.
(50.4 m 81.1 km) Beyond town, at the
crest where a clear view is obtained of
the ground to both sides, STOP.
Face to the left, which direction is
approximately north.
Landres-et-St. Georges, invisible from
here, is in a valley 1 1 / 2 miles to the front.
The 1st Division, the left division of the
V Corps, fought its way forward to this
point on October 10, the same day that
the 82d Division of the I Corps reached the
vicinity of Martincourt Farm, the place
near which we have recently stopped.
242 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

the nearest part of the Bois de Romagne, and the low bare ridge sloping off to the
the large wood seen to the right front. left from the woods on Côte de Châtillon.
The 1st Division was relieved by the The task of the division was to penetrate
42d Division on October 12. In its 12 that line; and this, after repeated at-
days of battle near here it had driven tempts, it successfully accomplished.
forward more than 4 miles through the In the general attack of the First Army
diff icult ter rain of Romagne Heights. on October 14, the 42d Division jumped
Its casualties, to some extent a meas- elf all along its front. On the right, after
ure of tis exceptional accomplishment, overcoming stubborn resistance, it reached
reached the heavy total of over 8,200 the crest of Hill 288. Deter mined as-
men, the greatest casualties of any division saults made against Côte de Châtillon
in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. from the far edge of the Bois de Romagne
When the 42d Division took over the we r e s t o p p e d a t t h e t h i c k b a n d s o f
1st Division sector it faced the Hinden- barbed wire located on the open slopes
burg Line which on this front included below the wood seen on that hill. In
Hill 288, the left one of the three hills seen front and to the left front from here, the
to the right; Côte de Châtillon, the prom- division advanced in spite of heavy ar-
inent oval-shaped hill to the right front; tillery f ire and dug in that night at the
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 243

far side of the shallow valley, marked by m a n s t o r e t a ke i t . Ta k i n g t h a t d o m i -


the few scattered trees, about 1 /2 mile away. nating strong point marked the climax of
During the f ighting on October 14 the splendid services of the 42d Division
Private Michael A. Donaldson, 42d Divi- on this particular battle front.
sion, won the Congressional Medal of I n t h i s f i g h t i n g P r iva t e T h o m a s C .
H o n o r. T h e a d va n c e o f h i s r eg i m e n t Neibaur won the Cong ressional Medal
having been checked by intense machine- of Honor for his heroic exploits. Soon
gun f ire of the enemy, who were en- after the crest of Côte de Châtillon was
trenched on the open ridge beyond the reached he was sent out with an auto-
valley in front of here, his company re- m a t i c r i f l e s q u a d t o e n f i l a d e e n e my
t i r e d t o r e o r g a n i z e , l e av i n g s e ve r a l machine-gun nests. Just as he set up
wounded near the enemy lines. Of his his gun he was shot through both legs
own volition, in broad daylight and with by f ire from a machine gun supporting a
utter disregard for his own safety, he ad- German counterattack. The German
vanced to the crest of the hill, rescued wave came on, all but surrounding the
one of his wounded comrades, and re- squad, and although every man in it was
turned under intense f ire to his own lines. either killed or wounded, Private Neibaur
He repeated this heroic act until he had continued to operate the gun. Due to
brought in all the men, six in number. his f ire and that from the skirmish line
On October 15 the attacks were contin- of his company, 100 yards behind him,
ued. On the right the division front line t h e G e r m a n s h a l t e d a n d t o o k c ove r.
was advanced through the woods to a Fo u r o f t h e m , w h o a t t a c k e d P r iva t e
point about midway between Hill 288 Neibaur at close quarters, he killed.
and Côte de Châtillon. Substantial Then moving out alone among the enemy
gains were made in front of here but the lying near by, he captured 11 men at the
ground captured was so exposed to hostile German Machine Gun and Observation Post
f i r e t h a t i t h a d t o b e g ive n u p . T h e Near Grandpré
f ighting on that day was very bitter, the
enemy making many counterattacks.
During the attacks on October 14 and
15 in the direction of Landres-et-St.
Georges, Lieutenant Colonel William J.
Donovan, 42d Division, personally led
the assault wave of his regiment. When
his troops were suffering heavy casualties
he encouraged all near him by his daring
example, moving among his men in ex-
posed positions, reorganizing decimated
platoons and accompanying them for-
ward in assaults. When he was wounded
in the leg by a machine-gun bullet, he
refused to be evacuated and continued
with his unit until it withdrew to a less
exposed position. For this gallant action
Lieutenant Colonel Donovan was award-
ed the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On the next day, October 16, as a result
of persistent efforts and skillful maneu-
vering, the formidable defenses of Côte
de Châtillon were penetrated and the hill
was captured and held in spite of the most
desperate efforts on the part of the Ger-
244 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

point of his pistol and brought them into dugout, he effected the capture of four
the American lines. The defeat of this German off icers, 64 men and four heavy
counterattack was due to a large extent machine guns. With remarkable gallan-
to the individual efforts of Private Nei- try this soldier had thus put out of action
baur, whose exploits greatly improved the an enemy force that would have critically
morale of his battalion as they took place threatened a success already gained.
against the sky line in full view of it. After October 16 the positions captured
A m o n g t h e m e n wh o we r e awa r d e d were consolidated and no further efforts
Distinguished Service Crosses for their to advance were made by the 42d Divi-
b r ave r y a t C ô t e d e C h â t i l l o n o n t h i s sion. Its front line then extended from
day was Cor poral Joseph E. Pruett of the the far side of Côte de Châtillon to a
42d Division. After a daring dash with point about the same distance away from
his platoon across open ground swept by this point to the left front.
m a c h i n e - g u n f i r e , h e s aw a n e n e my Early on the morning of November 1
machine gun crew preparing to open f ire the 2d Division passed through the 42d
upon the flank and rear of his position. Division, and taking par t in the Army
Singlehanded he attacked, using enemy offensive of that date attacked straight
grenades, drove the crew into a dugout a h e a d . S u p p o r t e d by h e av y a r t i l l e r y
a n d by b o m b i n g t h e e n t r a n c e t o t h e f ire, it quickly overcame the Ger man
resistance in front of here, captured
A Trench of the Hindenburg Line in the Landres-et-St. George and by nightfall
Bois de Bantheville, November 3, 1918
had advanced approximately 6 miles.
The road followed from here to Ro-
magne runs generally east and west and
was entirely within the front lines of the
American Army before October 15.
EN ROUTE EAST OF SOMMERANCE TO THE
MEUSE-ARGONNE AMERICAN CEMETERY
(52.2 m 84.0 km) After entering large
wood, at second abrupt right bend in road,
the tour is passing over the northern slope
of Hill 288, whose crest lies to the right.
On October 14 the summit of the hill was
reached by the 42d Division which, on
the next day, advanced about 1 / 2 mile to
the left of this road in the general direc-
tion of Côte de Châtillon.
(52.6 m 84.7 km) Beyond next sharp
right bend in road, the zone of action of
the 32d Division is entered.
(53.2 m 85.6 km) After entering f irst
clearing, to the right is seen the rear side
of Côte Dame Marie, a highly-organized
and important strong point of the
Hindenburg Line. It was encircled and
captured by the 32d Division in severe
f ighting on October 14. During that
day the division fought its way forward
to a line about :I mile to the left of the
road we are now traveling. Its signal
victory here is described at the next stop.
Top: Romagne, October 1918
Right: Romagne Church Set on Fire by an
Artillery Bombardment, October 29, 1918
(54.3 m 87.4 km) While descending the
next steep hill, to the right front may be ob-
tained glimpses of the chapel and flagpoles
located in the Meuse-Argonne American
Cemetery, which is the next stop.
Beyond village cemetery at entrance to
next town is a large German military cem-
etery. To visit, bear left at road fork at
village cemetery. Rejoin tour at church in
Romagne, which can be seen from cemetery
entrance. Time of side trip—10 minutes.
The next town, Romagne, was captured
by t h e 3 2 d D iv i s i o n b e f o r e n o o n o n
O c t o b e r 1 4 . A l a rg e G e r m a n s u p p ly
depot located there fell into the hands of
t h e a d va n c i n g A m e r i c a n s . T h e t ow n
wa s t h e 9 0 t h D iv i s i o n H e a d q u a r t e r s ,
October 31–November 3, end III Corps
Headquarters from November 3 to 10.
(54.6 m 87.9 km) At the church in Ro-
magne-sous-Montfaucon, turn to the left.
(54.7 m 88.0 km) Beyond the bridge is
the center of the town, turn to the left.
American Cemetery at Romagne,
May 1919
The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 247

other infor mation may be made, and a


few rooms which have been furnished
so that the relatives of those buried in
the cemetery can spend the night.
An attractive development has been
made at the center of the cemetery, and the
pools there with their flowers and gold-
f ish are a never-failing source of interest
to visitors from the surrounding region.
An idea of the size of the cemetery is ob-
tained when it is realized that the dis-
tance between the two main entrances is
600 yards and that the stone wall around
the cemetery is more than 1 1/ 2 miles long.
The chapel is a splendid example of
modern architecture of the Romanesque
style. The imposing main entrance is
surmounted by a sculptured bas-relief in
which the f igures represent Grief and

Interior of the Meuse-Argonne


Cemetery Chapel

Entrance to the Meuse-Argonne


Cemetery Chapel

(55.6 m 89.5 km) Enter the cemetery,


proceed slowly to far entrance, turn right,
ascend hill to chapel and STOP.
This is the largest of the American
military cemeteries in Europe. It is
f ittingly located near the center of the
area where the hardest American f ighting
of the war occurred. More than 14,200
soldiers are buried on this hillside, most
of whom fell during the operations of the
First Ar my between September 26 and
N ov e m b e r 1 1 . I n 1 9 2 2 b o d i e s we r e
brought here from the Vosges Mountains,
from the area on the other side of the
Argonne Forest, and from occupied Ger-
many. Many of those who died at Arch-
angel, Russia, were later moved to this
place. Almost every unit of the Ameri-
can Expeditionary Forces is represented
by one or more burials in this cemetery.
The per manent improvements of the
cemetery were completed in 1931. The
buildings across the valley from the grave
area contain a reception room for the con-
venience of visitors, the office of the super-
intendent, where inquiries concerning the
location of a par ticular g rave and for
Chapel at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery

Remembrance. Carved heads of Ameri- Services of Supply are recorded on the


can soldiers are included in the design front panel of the east loggia and the cor-
of the column capitals alongside the door responding panel of the west loggia dis-
and at the same height across the front plays an ornamental map in colors show-
of the building are names of places ing the ground captured by each of the
famous in the history of the American American divisions during the Meuse-
f ighting in this general region. Argonne offensive. The names of the
The chapel is entered through doors of unknown dead of the American expedition
unusual size. Within, the attention is to Northern Russia are also carved
f irst attracted to the apse, in the center on a panel of the west loggia.
of which is the altar, backed by a semi- On the floors of the pavilions at the ends
circle of flags of the United States and the the loggias are direction arrows pointing
principal Allied nations. out the prominent features of the land-
The insignia of the American divisions scape. After enjoying the visit to the
and higher units which served in Europe chapel and its surroundings, go to the pa-
are worked into the patterns of the stained vilion nearest Romagne and read the fol-
glass windows. Through these a soft and lowing description of the f ighting which
subdued light, which blends with the took place in this vicinity.
deep colors of the marble floor, is dif- The reader should make use of the di-
fused throughout the interior. The im- rection arrows on the floor, and move in
pression made upon the visitor is such and around the pavilion so as to identify
that he can not help but feel that this the various features of the landscape as
beautiful and holy place is f ittingly ap- they are mentioned in the text.
propriate “as a sacred rendezvous of a In the description of the operations all
grateful people with its immortal dead”. 1 designations, such as right, left, front and
On the walls of the loggias are carved the rear, are with reference to the direction
names of all American soldiers who fought the chapel fares, which is north.
in this region and who now rest in un- The famous German defensive position
known graves. The unknown dead of the known as the Hindenburg Line ran along
1
This quotation is from the dedicatory inscription
the ridge seen behind the chapel. It in-
which is cared on the interior walls of the chapel. cluded the high wooded hill, Côte Dame
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 249

Marie, the highest hill seen to the left rear were so successful that the Army ordered
over the buildings of the town of Romagne. the V Corps on this immediate front to
The jump-off line of the American First join in and to attack on October 9. This
Army on September 26, 1918, was about it did and after some of the most heart-
10 miles from here, beyond Montfaucon, rending f ighting of the war, it gained a
seen in the distance to the right rear. foothold in the Hindenburg Line.
By the end of the third day the Germans The 32d Division on October 9 pushed
had been driven back in this direction to forward part way up the slopes of Côte
the outlying defenses of the Hindenburg Dame Marie and to the ridge in rear
Line, which were located about midway of the chapel, where it established
between here and Montfaucon. i t s e l f i n a t r e n c h o f t h e H i n d e n b u rg
On October 4 a second general attack Line, called on. French wartime maps the
wa s l a u n c h e d by t h e Fi r s t A r my a n d Tranchée de la Mamelle. Romagne was
vigorously pushed, during the course of reached in that attack but a strong Ger-
which many important gains were made. man counterattack drove the advancing
On October 7 the flank attack against forces back. Isolated groups of the 3d
the Argonne Forest near Châtel-Chéhéry Division, whose zone of action included
was started and the next day the drive the g round upon which this cemeter y
e a s t o f t h e M e u s e wa s b eg u n . T h e s e stands, entered the valley which runs
250 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

through the cemetery and also entered attacked at 7:15 a. m. but was stopped
Romagne. The hostile f ire was so severe, by hostile machine-gun f ire from that
however, that these g roups did not at- part of this ridge to the right rear of the
tempt to hold on but took up a position chapel. Shortly after 1:00 p. m. it ad-
in the Tranchée de la Mamelle alongside vanced as far as the valley in the ceme-
the 32d Division. The remainder of the tery and established a position about 100
3d Division, to the right rear from here, yards to the right rear of the site of the
made a substantial advance also, and c h a p e l b u t w i t h d r ew a f t e r d a r k . T h e
after dark the 80th Division an the right right of the division repulsed a German
of the 3d entered Cunel, the village seen counterattack at dawn, jumped off at
to the right when looking along the front 7:00 a. m. and made a substantial gain,
of the chapel. Elements of the division attacked about noon with the 80th Divi-
were f ighting in the town at midnight but sion and captured Cunel but did not hold
it was not captured on that night. the town that night. The 80th Division
The First Army ordered a general at- during the day advanced its lines about
tack on the 10th and the f ighting contin- 7 0 0 y a r d s . T h e 4 t h D iv i s i o n , i n l i n e
ued f iercely on that day all along this beyond the 80th, captured this end of the
front. The 32d Division penetrated the Bois de Forêt, the wood seen above the
trenches of the Hindenburg Line near the right side of Cunel. That wood, a highly-
top of Côte Dame Marie. A counter- organized and strong part of the Hinden-
attack caused some withdrawal but at the burg Line, extends to the valley of the
end of the day the division had made a Meuse River about 4 miles away.
total gain there of about 1 / 2 mile. Ro- On October 12 and 13 the divisions
magne was attacked but not captured. consolidated their gains. On the 12th
The left of the 3d Division advanced at Cunel was entered though not held by a
7:00 a. m. but was held up by fire from the battalion of the 5th Division, that divi-
front and flanks. During the day ele- sion having relieved the 80th. On the
ments of the division established them- 13th the 3d Division extended to the
selves in German trenches, located to the right, relieving parts of the 5th and 4th
right rear not far from this chapel, but Divisions. During the day it was sub-
t h ey we r e w i t h d r aw n a f t e r d a r k . T h e jected to heavy hostile artillery concen-
right of the division made two attacks trations on its front lines, particularly in
which resulted in no permanent gains but the Bois de Forêt where a determined
in a third, begun at 9:45 p. m. and con- enemy attack was repulsed.
tinued through mast of the night, it ad- On the morning of October 14 the Army
vanced about 600 yards. During the day launched a general attack, the 5th and
the 80th Division pushed its line forward 42d Divisions having entered the line to
about 1 / 2 mile nearer to Cunel. t a k e p a r t . T h e 3 d D iv i s i o n a t t a c k e d
The general attack was pressed with from just beyond Cunel; the 5th from in
great vigor on the 11th, all divisions in front of Cunel and along the ridge in rear
line here taking part. The 32d Division of the chapel: the 32d from the front to
made only minor gains which were not the observer’s left of Romagne and Côte
held. The left unit of the 3d Division Dame Marie; the 42d from the line facing
Results of Traff ic on the Avocourt-Malancourt Road Built Over No Man’s Land
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 251

Observer Dropping Message for 5th Division Headquarters at Bois de la Tuilerie


(Insert) White Panels Being Displayed as Signals to an Airplane

Côte de Châtillon (the operations there which was devoid of trees at that time,
were described at the last stop) and the their positions were so exposed and the
82d and 77th from the front line beyond sweeping cross-f ire was so intense that
the 42d Division (the operations of the the men could not dig in but secured what
77th and 82d Division were described at shelter they could in the shell holes and
the stop near Martincourt Farm). captured trenches until after dark.
In this attack the German defenses The 32d Division, in spite of severe
crumbled before the onslaughts of the counterattacks, by a brilliant enveloping
terrif ic American assaults. The 5th maneuver, captured Côte Dame Marie
Division captured Cunel and with the 3d and advanced its front lines a total dis-
Division stormed the strongly fortif ied tance of approximately 1 1 / 2 miles. It also
Bois de la Pultière, seen on the hill captured the village of Romagne and
just to the left of Cunel, and by that h e l d i t t h r o u g h a h e av y G e r m a n g a s
night had practically cleared it of the bombardment during that night,
e n e my. T h e 5 t h D iv i s i o n j u s t b e f o r e The day was a momentous one for the
jumping off suffered heavy casualties on First Army, for by its close the Hinden-
the ridge behind the chapel from a two- burg Line was in American hands on all
hour concentrated enemy artillery bom- this part of the battle front.
bardment and again from an intense con- In this immediate vicinity the American
centration of hostile fire just after leaving troops organized themselves that night on
its trenches. The troops doggedly ad- a l i n e wh i c h i n c l u d e d t h e v i l l a g e o f
vanced, however, capturing this hill about Romagne and ran from there along the
10:00 a. m. and, in spite of savage cross- valley to a point near the pool at the
f ire from machine guns located at the edge c e n t e r o f t h e c e m e t e r y. I t t h e n we n t
of the Bois de la Pultière near Romagne, diagonally to the right up the ridge across
stormed the ridge across the valley about the valley and followed the top of that
10:40 a. m. Upon arriving at that ridge, ridge to the Bois de la Pultière near Cunel.
252 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

90th Division Troops Passing Through Cunel, October 27, 1918

The Bois des Rappes, on the horizon to it was evident to the Germans is clear
the right front, was the scene of terrif ic from the following sentence of an order
f ighting for eight days before it was f i- wh i c h t h e o p p o s i n g G e r m a n g e n e r a l
nally captured and cleared of the enemy issued to his men on October 1: “The
on October 21 by the 5th Division. The fate of a large por tion of the Western
90th Division relieved the 5th on October Front, perhaps of our nation, depends on
22 at the edge of the Bois des Rappes and the f irm holding of the Verdun Front.”
on the ridge across the valley. The next T h e A m e r i c a n A r my a t t a c k e d i n -
day it captured Bantheville, seen in the cessantly and such lack of experience as
valley to the kit of and beyond the recep- existed in its divisions in the beginning
t i o n h o u s e . T h e 3 2 d D iv i s i o n m a d e was more than counterbalanced by the
almost daily gains until October 20 on individual bravery and unbounded energy
which date it was relieved by the 89th of its soldiers. Their constant pressure
Division. By that time it had driven a deep gradually forced the enemy back so that
salient into the Ger man lines by by the end of October the First Ar my
capturing most of the Bois de Bantheville, faced the last German line on this part
the very large wood which covers the tops of its front. The bitterness of this f ight-
of the hills to the left front, and which ing is attested by the 27,000 casualties
ends near Le Grand Car ré Far m, seen suffered by the American 3d, 4th, 5th,
just below the horizon to the left of front. 32d, 80th, 89th and 90th Divisions in the
History records no mere sustained and general vicinity of this cemetery.
severe f ighting than that on this front On November 1 the First Army again
during October. The highly-organized drove forward, in what proved to be its
positions of the Germans were defended last great attack, from a jump-off line
with desperate tenacity by experienced which ran just this side of Le Grand
troops. The g round was ideal for de- Carré Farm. The zone of action of the
fense, and that the necessity of holding 90th Division included that far m near
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 253

its left boundary. In line on its left was Go to the reception building on the
the 89th Division and then the 2d Divi- opposite side of the valley. From its
sion. The immediate objective of the terrace a beautiful view of the cemetery
attack was Barricourt Heights, seen on and its f ields of crosses is obtained.
the horizon to the right of the wood just
beyond Le Grand Car ré Farm, and the EN ROUTE MEUSE-ARGONNE AMERICAN
more distant objective was the lateral CEMETERY TO SOUTH OF
railroad running near Sedan. MADELEINE FARM
The attack was a signal success and
Barricourt Heights was captured by the (56.5 m 90.9 km) Leave the cemetery
2d and 89th Divisions on the f irst day. by the gate opposite to the one entered.
Hill 343, the wooded hill seen to the right The next village, Cunel, was the scene
of front was captured by the 90th Divi- of many desperate conflicts between Octo-
sion on November 2. By November 4 ber 9 and 14, in which the 80th, 3d and
the German Army was in full retreat on 5 t h D iv i s i o n s p a r t i c i p a t e d . T h e t ow n
this front, and by the morning of Novem- was captured several times but not held
ber 7 the troops of the First Army were because it was dominated by the German
on the heights of the river across from positions in the Bois de la Pultière above
Sedan, 25 miles from here. it. The town and the wood, which was
By November 11, the day of the Armis- defended with the greatest tenacity, were
tice, the Meuse River had been crossed f inally captured on October 14; the town
in several places and the American Army by the 5th Division and the wood by
was pushing rapidly on beyond it. troops of the 3d and 5th Divisions.
Thus the war ended with a glorious (57.5 m 92.5 km) At church in Cunel,
victory for the American Army. Those bear right. This town was the 5th Divi-
who sleep on this hillside and their com- sion Headquarters, November 4–7.
rades in death who now rest in the ceme- (57.6 m 92.7 km) At next road fork,
teries of America had not fought in vain. bear right and STOP without leaving car.
“Cornwilly” for Breakfast in a Quarry Near Cunel, October 29, 1918
254 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

The wood seen to the left rear is the determined counterattacks, one of which
Bois de Forêt. That part of it closest to was launched from the Bois de la Pultière,
here was captured by the 4th Division on the wooded area seen to the rear.
the morning of October 11 after terrif ic The ground in this immediate vicinity
f ighting. It was held in spite of several wa s c a p t u r e d by t h e 5 t h D iv i s i o n o n
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 255

October 14 and near this point is seen one


of the many pyramidal markers erected
after the Armistice by the 5th Division on
or near its former battlef ields.
The terrain to the left and rear of here
was, on October 12, the scene of the heroic
ex p l o i t s o f Fi r s t L i e u t e n a n t S a m u e l
Woodf ill, 5th Division, for which he was
awa r d e d t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l M e d a l o f
H o n o r a n d l a t e r s e l e c t e d by G e n e r a l
Pershing as an outstanding hero of the
American Expeditionary Forces. Lieu- A Typical Scene in the Bois de Forêt
tenant Woodf ill was leading his company
hand combat. The company then con-
in an attack toward the Bois de la Pultière
from the small wooded area to the left of tinued to advance through the wood until
here when it encountered heavy enemy another machine-gun nest was encoun-
tered. Again Lieutenant Woodf ill rushed
f ire. Followed at some distance by two
soldiers, he immediately advanced to- ahead of his command in the face of heavy
ward a machine-gun nest, which was at f ire from the nest and when several of the
enemy appeared, he shot them, captured
the edge of the wood in rear of here, and
worked his way around its flank. Four three other members of the crew and si-
of the enemy emerged, three of whom lenced the gun. A few minutes later,
this off icer, for the third time, demon-
were shot by Lieutenant Woodf ill and the
fourth, an off icer, was killed in hand-to- strated conspicuous bravery by charging
another machine-gun position and by
employing in turn a rifle, a pistol, and
f inally a pick, killed seven of the enemy.
From here to the next town, Nantillois,
the tour goes opposite to the direction of
the American advance. The view of the
terrain is, therefore, that which was seen
from the various German positions.
The diff icult character of the ground
over which the American Army forced
i t s way f o r wa r d i s i l l u s t r a t e d by t h e
country between here and the next vil-
lage, Nantillois; and the bitter nature of
the f ighting is indicated by the compara-
t ive ly s m a l l ye t n u m e r o u s A m e r i c a n
gains made along this road. In the next
2 1 / 2 miles there are six pronounced ridges
which run almost at right angles to this
road. It took the First Army 14 days of
nearly continuous f ighting to capture
them. Each time the Germans lost a
r i d g e t h ey h a d o n e e q u a l ly g o o d f o r
defensive purposes just behind it.
The line reached on October 11 by the
3d and 80th Divisions was along this side
of the crest in front of here. The other
Captain Samuel Woodf ill, 5th Division front lines which crossed this road will
July 1919 be pointed out while approaching them.

(255)
Madeleine Farm, Captured by the 3d Division on October 9, 1918
Note character of wooded areas in 1918

From the next crest on to near Nan- units of the 4th and 79th Divisions, sup-
tillois, this road was the boundary be- p o r t e d by t a n k s , we r e r e p u l s e d o n
tween the zones of action of the 3d and S e p t e m b e r 2 8 . Fr o m t h e n o n t h e 3 d,
80th Divisions, the 3d Division zone of 4th, 79th and 80th Divisions all engaged
action being that to the reader’s right. in bitter f ighting in its vicinity.
Continue. The large wood seen to the left is the
(58.0 m 93.3 km) Beyond next crest, by Bois des Ogons. Troops of the 4th and
looking down the valley to the right a 79th Divisions advanced through it on
f i n e v i ew i s o b t a i n e d o f p a r t o f t h e September 28, but were forced back by
heavily-wooded Romagne Heights. counterattacks. The following day ele-
(58.2 m 93.7 km) At next crest, to the ments of both divisions penetrated into
right front on the ridge ahead, is seen the it, but were again forced to fall back.
Bois de Cunel. Along its near edge was I t wa s a t t a c ke d o n O c t o b e r 4 by t h e
located the front line of the 3d Division 8 0 t h D iv i s i o n , w h i c h m a d e f r o n t a l
on October 9 and 10. The Hindenburg and flank assaults against it without success
Line crossed the road close to this side of until dark when the far edge of it was
that wood. (See map page 254.) reached. Attempts to capture the wood
(58.9 m 94.8 km) At the far side of the by inf iltration that night were unsuccess-
wood, when a clear view of the valley to ful. On October 5, in spite of desperate
the right is obtained, STOP. efforts during the daytime, no progress
Face down the road, which direction is could be made. About 6:00 p. m., how-
approximately south. eve r, t h e d iv i s i o n r e a c h e d t h i s e d g e ,
The buildings just passed are those of wh i c h i t o u t p o s t e d, a n d o rg a n i z e d a
Madeleine Farm, famous in the history of position across the center of the wood.
t h e A m e r i c a n E x p e d i t i o n a r y Fo r c e s . The wood seen to the right front is on
The old building, formerly used by the a ridge called during the war Hill 250,
Germans as a hospital, was marked with which was an exceptionally strong fea-
a large red cross on the roof. It had been t u r e o f t h e G e r m a n d e f e n s e s . I t wa s
carefully prepared for defense, however, reached by the 79th Division on Sep-
and was the scene of desperate f ighting tember 28 and on the following day was
from September 28 to October 9 when the captured but not held because it formed
battered ruins of the farm were f inally a sharp salient in the line. It was f inally
captured by troops of the 3d Division. captured on the night of October 5–6 by
The f irst attacks against it, made by units of the 3d Division, after a hard f ight.

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 257

Hill 253, the high bare hill seen to the vate Barkley got into the tank, waited
right, was a powerful Ger man strong under the hostile bar rage until the enemy
point that dominated a large part of the line was abreast of him, and then opened
zone of advance of the 3d Division. It f ire, completely breaking up the attack
was attacked on October 4 without suc- and killing and wounding a large number
cess and again on October 5 when a foot- o f t h e e n e my. Five m i n u t e s l a t e r a n
hold was gained on its southern slopes. enemy artillery piece opened point-blank
It was taken on October 9 by the 3d f ire on the tank from the opposite wood.
Division after a bitter struggle. Although one shell made a direct hit,
This point and the valley on each side Private Barkley stuck to his improvised
of it were in no man’s land from October “pillbox” and broke up a second counter-
5 t o 8 . T h e A m e r i c a n f r o n t l i n e wa s attack several minutes later.
along the edge of the wood to the right The f ighting in this valley ended on
front and the German line was facing it October 9 when the 3d and 80th Divisions,
from the wood across the valley. attacking from the woods ahead, cap-
As an illustration of the continuous tured this clearing and Madeleine Farm,
f ighting in this vicinity it might be noted the Bcis de Cunel, seen to the rear, and
t h a t b e t we e n m i d n i g h t a n d d aw n o n advanced their front line to the far side of
October 7, the 3d Division made three the ridge directly in rear of here.
determined efforts to cross this valley. Madeleine Farm was the 3d Division
Each attempt failed because of the alert- Headquarters from October 14 to 26.
ness of the Germans, who illuminated the
area with flares and raked it with severe EN ROUTE SOUTH OF MADELEINE FARM
machine-gun, rifle and artillery f ire. TO NORTHWEST OF CONSENVOYE
The American positions in the Bois des
Ogons and on Hill 250 were subjected to (59.4 m 95.6 km) At the next bend in
many terrif ic artillery bombardments and the road the American monument on
counterattacks during this period. Montfaucon is seen directly ahead.
It was during counterattacks on Octo- In the small wood at this point the
ber 7 against Hill 250 that Private First bodies of seven American soldiers were
Class John L. Barkley, 3d Division, won discovered as late as 1927 buried in the
the Congressional Medal of Honor. He s a m e u n m a r k e d s h a l l ow g r ave . T h ey
was stationed in an observation post near were ail without shoes, probably indicat-
the edge of the wood seen to the right ing that these articles were in demand by
front. On his own initiative he repaired a the Germans who buried them.
captured enemy machine gun and mount- (59.5 m 95.8 km) The wood to the right
ed it in a disabled tank which was near his front is on Hill 268. On October 4 the
post. Shortly afterward, when the enemy American front line was about 100 yards
launched a counterattack from the t h i s s i d e o f t h a t wo o d a n d r a n c l o s e t o
edge of the wood across the valley, Pri- the edge of the wood seen to the left rear.
“Fox Holes” South of Bois de Ogons
Looking East During the War Toward the Ruins of Nantillois
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 259

Hill 274, seen to the left front, was line, which had advanced over 2 miles, was
captured on September 28 by the 4th driven back about 3 / 4 mile by the same
and 79th Divisions but due to the total counterattack. On that day Nantillois,
l a c k o f c ove r a n d t h e i n t e n s e e n e my in the deep valley ahead, was taken by the
artillery f ire, the troops of the 79th Divi- 79th Division, it having been entered but
sion on that part of it nearest this road not held by the 4th Division the day be-
withdrew about 1 / 2 mile the next day. fore. Being an impor tant road center,
(59.9 m 96.4 km) Upon reaching the that town, after its capture, was subjected
next crest proceed about 100 yards and to heavy shelling by German artillery.
STOP without leaving automobile. In Nantillois are (1937) a building
In this general vicinity the Ger man erected by a 315th Infantry association in
reserves of men and artillery, which were memor y of the dead of that regiment,
rushed to this front after the attack of which was a part of the 79th Division, and
September 26, entered the battle and a memorial fountain constructed by the
desperately strove to stop the American State of Pennsylvania as a tribute to the
advance by counterattacks and heavy achievements of the 80th Division, which
concentrations of artillery f ire. had a number of men in it from that state.
The crest of the ridge seen to the left The building is seen on the right, set back
front on the sky line was reached by the from the road, soon after entering town.
4th Division early on the afternoon of The fountain is passed at the main road
September 26. The near end of the divi- junction in the center of the village.
sion line was just this side of Hill 295, Continue.
the highest par t of the ridge as seen (60.7 m 97.7 km) At the center of
from here. Three enemy counterattacks Nantillois, turn sharply to the left.
against that part of its line were repulsed (61.2 m 98.5 km) Beyond town, the
during the course of the afternoon. little valley which the road follows was the
T h e 7 9 t h D iv i s i o n a t t h a t t i m e wa s scene of desperate f ighting on September
held up on the other side of Montfaucon 27 and 28 before it and the ridge to the
but part of the 37th Division and the 91st left were f inally taken by the 4th Division.
Division had progressed almost as far as (63.1 m 101.5 km) Beyond the f irst
Epinonville, seen in the distance just to farm buildings located to the LEFT of the
the right of the Bois de Beuge, the large road, at second pronounced crest, STOP
wooded area to the right front. without leaving the automobile.
On September 27 the 4th Division at- A 4th Division monument is located
tacked but encountered such severe re- alongside the road near this stopping
sistance that it could not advance its lines point. (Consult the map on page 254.)
t o a ny ex t e n t . O n t h a t s a m e d ay t h e The hills seen ahead in the distance are
79th Division, after occupying Montfau- on the other side of the Meuse River.
con about noon, attacked the Bois de Fire from German artillery positions lo-
Beuge, which was reached by a few men cated on those hills enf iladed the lines of
but not held. The division that night the American units on this side of the
dug in along the lowest well-def ined line river and caused many casualties. The
of vegetation seen on Montf aucon. hills were not taken until November 5,
The village of Epinonville was repeatedly six days before the Armistice.
attacked by troops of the 91st Division The large wood seen fringing the top of
during the day b ut was not captured. the ridge to the left and left front across
On September 28 the Bois de Beuge was the valley is the Bois de Forêt and that
taken in a vigorous assault by the 79th on the hillside seen to the left rear is the
and 37th Divisions, the latter taking the B o i s d e Fay s . T h e H i n d e n b u rg L i n e
far side of it. The 37th Division after included all of the Bois de Forêt and most
passing the Bois de Beuge was stopped by o f t h e B o i s d e Fay s . T h e f i r s t p e n e -
a German counterattack. The left of its tration of the Hindenburg Line made by
260 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

the First Army was on October 4 when the heroic ser vices for which he was
in a dashing assault troops of the 4th awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Division captured the Bois de Fays. He accompanied his battalion into action
The Bois de Forêt was the scene of on September 28 in the Bois de la Côte
many desperate conflicts, in which the Lémont, and promptly opened his aid sta-
4th and 3d Divisions were engaged, before tion within 100 yards of the front line,
its capture was f inally completed on where he worked all night under continu-
October 22 by the 3d Division. o u s f i r e , g iv i n g a i d t o t h e wo u n d e d .
Because of the enf ilade f ire of the Ger- When there was a shortage of stretcher
man artillery up this valley, no attacks bearers he assisted in bringing in the
were launched from this vicinity against wounded. Under intense f ire he under-
the Bois de Forêt. The capture of that took to locate the ambulance station and
wood was f inally brought about by an en- personally directed the evacuation of
veloping movement through the Bois de wounded to it. In the attack from the
Fays. This movement, which involved Bois de Fays on October 5 he again went
f ighting of the most vicious character, was with the attacking troops and opened a
initiated by the 4th Division on October 4 f irst aid station in an old cellar. Under
and continued by it until October 11, an intense barrage of shrapnel and high-
when the left half of the Bois de Forêt explosive shells, he performed the most
was captured. The 3d Division relieved devoted service in attending the wounded,
the 4th there on October 13 and on Octo- working continuously until after his unit
ber 22 occupied the rest of the wood. had been ordered to retire.
On top of the bare hill rising to the Continue.
right from here was an exceptionally (63.2 m 101.7 km) To the left front,
strong German position called the Trench across the valley, is seen a large French
du Téton. It was occupied by the 4th World War military cemetery.
Division on October 10 and soon there- (63.9 m 102.8 km) Immediately after
after the Germans abandoned Brieulles, entering Brieulles, turn to the right.
seen in the valley ahead, because the town (64.4 m 103.6 km) Where the road ends
was dominated by the newly organized at the railroad, turn right and STOP
American positions on that hill. without leaving the automobile.
During the severe f ighting in the Bois This point is at the west side of the
de la Côte Lémont, to be pointed out Meuse River valley. The river winds its
later in the tour, and in the Bois de Fays, way through the valley and a canal is
Fi r s t L i e u t e n a n t Wi l l i a m R . A r r a n t s at the foot of the nearest hill to the left.
Medical Corps, 80th Division, performed During the progress of the last great

33d Division Troops in Drillancourt, October 4, 1918


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 261

A 79th Division Aid Station in the Bois de Consenvoye, November 8, 1918

offensive of the First Army, one of the the footbridges the enemy was surprised
most diff icult military feats, that of cross- and two companies quickly established
ing a river under hostile f ire, was accom- themselves on the far side. These im-
plished by the 5th Division near here. mediately extended their lines for a con-
Soon after midnight on November 2–3, s i d e r a b l e d i s t a n c e a l o n g t h e r iv e r.
a footbridge was placed by the engineers Prof iting by the confusion caused in the
over the river about 300 yards in rear of German ranks by this crossing, another
here and a patrol followed by one infan- battalion of the 5th Division crossed the
try company crossed to the flats between river and canal, to the left front from here,
t h e r ive r a n d c a n a l . A b o u t d aw n t h e in boats. This battalion promptly cap-
enemy discovered the movement and laid tured Hill 252, seen to the left, and
d ow n a h e av y f i r e i n t h e a r e a . T h e organized a position on it that night.
troops on the flats were driven to the O n N ov e m b e r 5 t h e d iv i s i o n m a d e
cover of the high bank along the canal, another crossing of the river about 2 miles
in which precarious position they re- to the left rear from here and still
mained throughout the day. further extended its gains in this vicinity,
That night the canal was bridged about among its captures being the Bois de
900 yards to the left rear from here with Châtillon, a large wooded area part of
t wo f o o t b r i d g e s . A n a t t e m p t t o r u s h which is seen to the left front.
over one of the bridges at 2:00 a. m. on The successful crossing here turned the
N ov e m b e r 4 wa s d e f e a t e d by e n e my German lines on the Heights of the Meuse,
machine-gun f ire and several other at- to the left front beyond the river, and
tempts to cross before daybreak were greatly facilitated the progress of those
repulsed. However, after dark (the sun units of the American Army which were
set at 4:19 p. m.) by a sudden rush over attacking the German lines from the front.
262 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

From now on to the village of Consen- From here to the next shar p bend in
voye, where the river is crossed, the tour the road, the tour r uns generally east
goes along the Meuse River valley. and west, that is, at right angles to the
Continue. direction of advance of the First Army.
(65.3 m 105.1 km) At the place where (67.0 m 107.8 km) Opposite Vilosnes,
large wood, Bois de la Côte Lémont, ex- on this side of the valley a large German
tends immediately alongside road, the supply depot was captured.
80th Division reached this valley on Sep- (67.9 m 109.3 km) While approaching
tember 28 and established its front line next sharp bend in road, there is seen
along the railroad track. The opposing straight ahead a bald-topped hill marked
lines faced each other across the valley by a s m a l l m o n u m e n t . T h a t h i l l i s
from that time on to November 6. the Borne de Cornouiller, called by our
(66.0 m 106.2 km) The village to the men “Cornwilly Hill”. The slopes of the
left front across the valley is Vilosnes, hill to the observer’s right were reached by
captured on November 6, and beyond it the 33d Division on October 9 and again
on the ridge in the distance, Haraumont, on the 10th, its front line remaining there
raptured on November 7, soon appears. until the 12th. The top of the hill was
These were taken by the French 15th captured on November 7 by the 79th
Colonial Division which was attached to Division after par ts of it had changed
the American Ar my. It was assisted in hands several times during bitter f ighting
the crossing of the river and the capture o n t h e p r e c e d i n g d ay s . T h e a d va n c e
of Vilosnes by the 5th Division, which, was from right to left as seen from here.
after crossing at Brieulles, attacked the The monument on the hill is a small one
town from the heights seen above it. in commemoration of the services of the
American soldiers who fought in that
German Observation Post Captured by the
29th Division in the Bois de Consenvoye vicinity. No road runs near it.
(68.9 m 110.9 km) In the next valley
leading to the right is seen Dannevoux.
That village, which lay in the German
second position, was taken after dark on
September 26 by the 80th Division. On
this side of Dannevoux a large depot con-
taining valuable military supplies was
captured by the 33d Division.
(69.1 m 111.2 km) At next crest, the
zone of action of the 33d Division on Sep-
tember 26 is entered. The division estab-
lished its line just to the left of this road
before noon of that day.
(69.3 m 111.5 km) In the neat little
valley, after crossing the stone bridge, to
the left are seen (1937) several large con-
crete shelters built by the Germans.
On October 7 a French air plane was
shot down near here and crashed on the
flats across the river near the enemy lines.
Seeing that the French aviator was in-
jured, Corporal Ralyn Hill. 33d Division,
voluntarily dashed over the river on a
footbridge and carried the wounded man
to this side under heavy hostile f ire.
For his gallant exploit he was awarded
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 263

79th Division Water Service Train in Brabant-sur-Meuse, November 3, 1918

later the Congressional Medal of Honor. heights seen to the left began to strike
(70.4 m 113.3 km) About 1 mile farther the flank and rear of the advancing forces
on, at top of the hill to the right is seen a and inflicted many casualties. Conse-
distant view of Montfaucon. quently, the French XVII Corps, which
(70.9 m 114.1 km) Beyond next road was holding that part of the front just
junction, where a good view is obtained across the river, was ordered by the First
of the valley ahead, STOP. Army to attack on October 8.
Face down road, which direction is T h e o p e r a t i o n wa s exe c u t e d by t h e
approximately southeast. American 33d and 29th Divisions and
The nearest town across the valley is three French divisions. The main as-
Consenvoye. The f irst buildings seen up sault was made by a brigade of the 29th
the valley beyond it are in Brabant. attached to the French 18th Division, a
In this region, the Meuse River is fol- brigade of the French 18th Division and
lowed on its far side by a comparatively the French 26th Division, in line in that
narrow and rough plateau, about 4 or 5 order from Brabant on to the observer’s
miles wide, called the Heights of the left. The French 10th Colonial Division
Meuse. This forms a formidable mili- protected the right flank of the corps.
tary obstacle, being heavily wooded and The 33d Division, which held this bank
indented by many deep valleys. of the river from Brabant to the Bois de
The German positions on those heights la Côte Lémont, recently passed on the
were not attacked on September 26, al- tour, was to cross at Brabant after the
though the First Army contemplated that main attack had progressed a certain dis-
an advance would have to be made north t a n c e . I t w a s t o b e n o t i f i e d by t h e
along them in the near future. French 18th Division when to cross and
This proved to be the case, because, as after crossing it was to attack toward the
the offensive on this side of the river pro- Bois de Chaume, the wood seen fringing
gressed, the hostile artillery f ire from the the summit of the hill to the left rear.
264 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

The troops of the main attack jumped left edge of Consenvoye. That wood was
off at 5:00 a. m. behind an intense rolling reached about noon and captured by the
barrage. The advance of the 29th Divi- 29th Division during the afternoon.
sion was rapid for about a mile until its At 9:00 a. m. the 33d Division was or-
intermediate objective, marked roughly dered to cross the river and at 11:00 a. m.
by an extension of the line from this point it began its advance from Brabant.
through the center of Consenvoye, was Consenvoye was captured about noon and
reached. From there on it was subjected a pause was made near there. The attack
to severe machine-gun f ire, a large part of wa s c o n t i n u e d s o o n a f t e r 4 : 0 0 p . m .
which came from the Bois de Consenvoye, against artillery and machine-gun f ire.
the wedge-shaped wood seen over the The most advanced part of the division
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 265

line was established that night in a Ger- the 33d Division advanced alone against
man trench which was located just to the a German dugout and captured 49 of the
observer’s right of the Bois de Chaume. enemy, killing one off icer who attempted
On October 9 the 33d Division attacked to escape. For this courageous and gal-
about 6:40 a. m. in a thick fog. It made lant deed, Private Bird was awarded the
an advance of about 1 1 / 2 miles, well beyond Distinguished Service Cross.
the Bois de Chaume, but withdrew that The 33d Division attacked early on
afternoon because the 29th Division, ad- October 10 and by 10:00 a. m. had again
joining it, bad not advanced and the Ger- captured the Bois de Chaume. On that
man units had begun to work their way day the 29th Division captured Richène
i n b e h i n d i t s ex p o s e d f l a n k . T h e s e Hill, the f irst wooded hill seen to the left
enemy units cut off and sur rounded about of the wedge-shaped Bois de Consenvoye.
100 American soldiers near the far edge The zone of action of the 29th Division
of the Bois de Chaume, but the Americans is visited later in the tour and the f ighting
held out and were rescued by the advanc- of that division is described in consider-
ing troops during the next morning. able detail at the next step.
It was during this f ighting on October 9 The 33d Division moved its front line a
that Private First Class Berger H. Loman, short distance to the rear on October 13
33d Division, won the Congressional Med- to a better defensive location. On Oc-
a l o f H o n o r. W h e n h i s c o m p a ny wa s tober 16 it advanced the right of its line
approaching its objective under terrif ic about 1 / 2 mile in support of an attack by
hostile f ire, Private Loman voluntarily the 29th Division. This advance ended
and unaided made his way forward after its active f ighting on this front as it was
all others had taken shelter from the di- relieved from the line on October 21.
rect f ire of an enemy machine gun. He
EN ROUTE NORTHWEST OF CONSENVOYE
crawled to a position on the flank of the
TO NEAR MOLLEVILLE FARM
gun and, after killing or capturing the
entire crew, turned the machine gun and (71.4 m 114.9 km) At road junction
used it on the retreating German troops. opposite the village of Consenvoye, turn
On this same day Private Felix Bird of to the left and cross Meuse River valley.
Road Through Bois d’Etraye, Showing German Shelters, November 10, 1918
The described route passes over this route
Illustrates Character of Terrain Advanced Over by the American First Army
on September 26, 1918

Soon after its capture on October 8, g u n n e s t t h a t wa s o ff e r i n g t h e m o s t


this road was heavily camouflaged along stubbor n resistance. Although his ad-
its left side to conceal movements over it vance was made through an open area
from German observation posts located on under constant hostile f ire, he not only
the high ridge to the left, 4 miles away. silenced the gun but captured it and
During the early morning of October 8 brought back with him 23 prisoners.
the engineers, in spite of heavy hostile Private Slack, observing German sol-
artillery f ire, built a bridge over the river diers under cover 50 yards away to his left
to the right of here upon which part of the flank, upon his own initiative rushed them
division crossed about 4:30 in the after- with his rifle and singlehanded captured
noon to join in the attack. ten prisoners and two heavy machine
(72.1 m 116.0 km) Continue on straight guns, thus saving his company and its
through the village of Consenvoye. adjoining units from heavy casualties.
During the attack on Consenvoye on (72.5 m 116.7 km) Beyond town, about
October 8 First Sergeant Johannes S. 500 yards, a German bombproof shelter
Anderson and Private Clayton K. Slack, is seen (1937) just at the left of the road.
33d Division, perfor med the acts for In the attack an October 8 the 33d Divi-
which they were awarded Congressional sion advanced across this road from right
Medals of Honor. While his company to left and established its front line in a
wa s h e l d u p by i n t e n s e a r t i l l e r y a n d German trench on the near slope of the
machine-gun f ire, Sergeant Anderson, hill seen across the valley.
armed with a shotgun, voluntarily worked (73.0 m 117.5 km) Beyond second left
his way alone to the rear of the machine- bend in road, by looking to the left rear
German 21-Centimeter Howitzer Captured down the valley is seen the village of Con-
by the 80th Division Near senvoye and a large part of the ground
Vaux-en-Dieulet on November 4, 1918 beyond the river which was captured by
the First Army on September 26.
The American monument erected on
Montfaucon is visible in the distance to
the left on the sky line.
(73.8 m 118.8 km) The large wood seen
ahead is the Bois de Consenvoye. The
front line of the 29th Division was estab-
lished on October 8 along the near edge of
that part of it to the right of this road. It
remained there throughout the next day.

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AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 267

Steel Observation Turrets at Fort Douaumont

(74.2 m 119.4 km) While approaching but, having no contact with the troops on
the wood, to the left front the wooded hill their flanks, they withdrew about 1 mile.
nearest the road is Richène Hill which On October 9 the brigade repulsed a
was pointed out at the last stop. hostile attack and advanced its line in
(74.4 m 119.7 km) After entering wood, the woods in front of here and on Octo-
to the right of the road was the scene on ber 10 units of it reached the edge of
October 8 of the heroic deeds of Ser- this clearing to the right front.
geant Earl D. Gregory, 29th Division. It was during this f ighting that Second
Sergeant Gregory seized a rifle and trench- Lieutenant Patrick Regan and Private
mortar shell, which he used as a hand- First Class Henry G. Costin, 29th Divi-
grenade, advanced ahead of the infantry sion, won Congressional Medals of Honor.
and captured a machine gun and three While leading his platoon against a strong
of the enemy. Advancing still farther on enemy machine-gun nest which was hold-
beyond the machine-gun nest, he captured ing up the advance, Lieutenant Regan
a 75-millimeter mountain howitzer and divided his men into three groups, sending
entering a dugout in its immediate vicin- one group to each flank, he himself at-
ity he singlehandedly captured 19 of the tacking the nest from the front with an
enemy soldiers. For these acts of valor automatic rifle team to which Private
and outstanding gallantry he was awarded Costin had been f irst to volunteer. Two
the Congressional Medal of Honor. of the team were killed outright, while
(75.1 m 120.9 km) Beyond next cross- Lieutenant Reg an and Private Costin
roads, where a good view is obtained of were seriously wounded, the latter being
valley to the right front, STOP.
Headquarters Constructed by the French
Face to the right, which direction is at Bras, Occupied by the 26th Division
approximately south. October 18–November 11, 1918
In the valley to the left front are seen
the buildings of Molleville Farm.
Consult the map on page 264.
When the heights east of the Meuse
were attacked on October 8, a brigade of
t h e 2 9 t h D iv i s i o n , o p e r a t i n g w i t h a
French division, drove forward aggres-
sively in this direction from a jump-off
line about 3 miles in front of here. Ele-
ments of the brigade reached the ravine
seen beyond Molleville Farm on that day

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268 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

unable to advance. In spite of his in- On October 15, after a severe f ight, the
jur y Lieutenant Regan dashed with division f inally captured this clearing and
empty pistol into the machine-gun nest, established its front line along this road
capturing 30 Austrian gunners and four t o t h e l e f t o f h e r e . T h e n ex t d ay i t s
machine guns, Private Costin continuing attacks were continued and in spite of
to f ire his rifle in support until he col- intense opposition the division pushed
lapsed. These gallant deeds permitted the forward about 1 / 2 mile into the Bois de la
a d va n c e t o c o n t i n u e . P r iva t e C o s t i n Grande Montagne, the large wooded area
died as a result of his wounds but Lieu- immediately behind this point.
tenant Regan gallantly continued to lead The brigade of the 29th with the
his platoon forward until ordered to the French was returned to its own division
rear by his commanding off icer. on October 18, and on that day the relief
Early on October 11 the 29th Division of the French division to the observer’s
took command of the zone of action im- left of the 29th was completed by units of
mediately in front of here. One brigade the American 26th Division.
of it, however, still continued to operate On October 23 the 26th and 29th Divi-
with the French 18th Division. sions attacked in the direction of the ob-
On the 11th the 29th Division advanced server’s left and in a spirited assault ad-
its line in front of here to the far side of vanced their lines about 3 / 4 mile, gaining
this clearing. It made three determined all objectives. Several hostile counter-
efforts to cross the clearing, each time attacks made during the afternoon and
being driven hack by severe f ire from evening of that day were driven back.
Germans in trenches along this road. The 26th Division made deter mined
The brigade of the 29th Division still efforts to capture Hill 360 on each of the
with the French made several determined three days, October 24, 25 and 27, but
attacks on October 12 and succeeded in no permanent gains resulted.
gaining a foothold in the Bois d'Ormont It was during the f ighting on October
on Hill 360, the hill seen to the left front 27 that Private First Class Michael J. Per-
with the patch of wood on its summit. kins, 26th division, voluntarily and alone,
Main Street in Ville-devant-Chaumont,
November 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 269

crawled to a German concrete machine- the First Army on November 1, and the
gun emplacement from which grenades resulting German withdrawal on the other
were being thrown at his platoon. Await- side of the river, caused the Army to sus-
ing his opportunity, when the door of pect a retirement was contemplated near
the emplacement was opened by a German here. Consequently, the 79th Division
to throw a grenade, Private Perkins threw was ordered to test out the situation by
a bomb inside which burst the door down. sending out strong patrols near the Borne
Then, drawing his trench knife, he rushed de Cornouiller, a high bald hill located
into the emplacement and in a hand-to- about 1 mile to the right rear from here,
hand struggle killed or wounded several recently pointed out from across the river.
of the occupants, captured about 25 These patrols advanced early on Novem-
prisoners and silenced seven machine ber 3, and in severe f ighting pushed the
guns. He was killed in the operations of division line forward about 500 yards.
that day but was posthumously awarded D u r i n g N ove m b e r 4 a n d 5 t h e 7 9 t h
the Congressional Medal of Honor for the Division after further desperate f ighting
courageous feats recorded above. reached a line near the crest of the Borne
The 29th Division after its hard f ight- d e C o r n o u i l l e r. T h i s s u c c e s s a n d t h e
ing here was relieved from the line on progress made by other divisions to the
October 30 by the 79th Division. north forced the German troops to with-
O n N ov e m b e r 1 t h e 7 9 t h D iv i s i o n draw from the heights in this vicinity.
extended its sector to the observer’s left, A deep advance was made on Novem-
as shown on the above sketch, so that it ber 7 and the next day the division moved
held a total frontage of about 4 miles. rapidly forward, toward the obser ver’s
The capture of Barricourt Heights by left, to the eastern edge of these heights.
270 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Substantial daily gains were made there- distance is seen the tower of the Ossuary
after until the Armistice on November 11. of Douaumont, a French war memorial.
The total casualties of the 33d, 29th, (76.2 m 122.6 km) After entering wood,
79th and 26th Divisions during their fight- the valley which the road follows was a
ing on and near the Heights of the Meuse concentration place for German reserve
were almost 15,000 off icers and men. units. In the woods on both sides of the
Molleville Farm was the 79th Division road were many elaborate shelters and
Headquar ters from November 9 to 11. dugouts, constructed by the Germans for
Beyond this clearing for about 3 miles the protection and comfort of the troops
the tour follows the direction of advance who were waiting to support the front
on this front during November 8 and 9. line or to relieve units serving in it.
(77.7 m 125.0 km) Straight through
EN ROUTE NEAR MOLLEVILLE FARM
next village, Etraye, which was captured
TO VERDUN
by the 79th Division on November 8, and
(75.2 m 121.0 km) To the right in the was just within its front line that night.
Fr o m h e r e t o t h e n ex t
road junction, this road was
close to the left boundary
of the 79th Division zone
of action on November 9.
A French division was ad-
joining it on the left.
(78.8 m 126.8 km) Just
before reaching road junc-
tion, the second nose of
heights seen to the left is
near where the 32d Divi-
sion entered the line on the
afternoon of November 9.
That afternoon some of its
units reached the main road
running to the left from the
village, Damvillers, seen to
the left front. One of its
regiments attacked from
there in a heavy fog on the
morning of November 10,
advanced about 2 miles and
when the fog lifted found
itself isolated. It withdrew
in good order to its jump-
off line. The left of the
division on that day pushed
forward about 2 miles.
(79.0 m 127.1 km) At road
junction, turn sharp right.
(79.6 m 128.1 km) The
next town, Wavrille, was
captured by the 79th Di-
vision about 10:00 a. m. on
November 9. The hostile
resistance then stiffened
and progress was diff icult due mainly to
hostile f ire from the hills seen to the left.
The division established its line that night
to the left of this road and generally paral-
lel to it, On the 10th it again pushed
forward despite considerable opposition
and at the time of the Armistice the sol-
diers of the division were f ighting on the
near slopes of the hills seen to the left.
(80.1 m 128.9 km) The bare hill seen
to the left front was captured by the 79th
Division early on November 10.
(81.0 m 130.4 km) The next town,
Moirey, seen to the right near the road,
was near the boundary between the 79th
and 26th Divisions. It was entered by
elements of both of those divisions during
the morning of November 9.
(81.3 m 130.8 km) Soon after Moirey
appears in view, alongside the road are
seen (1937) two large reinforced concrete
posts which were built by the Germans.
Heavy chains suspended between them
were intended to prevent the advance of
armored cars along this road.
(82.0 m 132.0 km) The village seen to
the left, part way up the hill, is Chaumont- Near 79th Division Headquarters at
devant-Damvillers. It was captured by Vacherauville, October 31, 1918
the 79th Division on November 10.
(82.8 m 133.2 km) Beyond Chaumont, located the front line of the 26th Division,
take the f irst road to the right. November 3–7, from which it advanced
The tour now goes in a direction gen- on the afternoon of November 8.
erally contrary to the direction of advance (85.5 m 137.6 km) At the right side of
of the Army on this part of its front. the road is seen a monument, surrounded
(83.4 m 134.2 km) Straight through by graves, commemorative of a heroic
the village of Ville-decant-Chaumont, defense in 1916 by a French off icer,
captured by the 26th Division late in the Colonel Driant, and his unit.
afternoon of November 10. (85.8 m 138.1 km) While descending
(83.6 m 134.5 km) Upon leaving the hill, to the left front are seen a small
village, to the left of the road is seen a chapel and monument. These mark the
German World War military cemetery. site of the former village of Beaumont,
(84.1 m 135.3 km) Beyond town, along which was completely destroyed during
the foot of the slopes seen to the right the severe f ighting in 1916.
front, the 26th Division was held up on The battle line on September 26 was
November 9 by heavy machine-gun f ire. located just the other side of Beaumont.
The division dug in there that night, The attack in this region on October 8
facing in this direction. Its front line was made from that line on a front of
by the time of the Ar mistice had been about 4 miles extending from the vicinity
advanced across this road and was es- of Beaumont to the Meuse River.
tablished along the slopes to the left of it. T h e t o u r n ow p a s s e s t h r o u g h o n e
(85.4 m 137.4 km) Near top of long of the few remaining areas which give
hill, just beyond the road junction, was an idea of the devastation at the front

(271)
272 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Gate at Verdun, Said to Have Been the Inspiration for the Insignia of the U. S. Corps of Engineers

d u r i n g t h e wa r. To o b t a i n a b e t t e r The city of Verdun was severely dam-


picture of its war time condition, this aged by the German heavy artillery and
desolate country should be visualized as by numerous air bombardments during
being devoid of all vegetation. the prolonged f ighting in this vicinity.
(89.9 m 144.7 km) In Vacherauville, Points of interest are the underground
the main road to Verdun is joined. This par t of the citadel, the cathedral and
town was the 29th Division Headquarters, house of the bishop, and the Hôtel-de-
October 7–30, and 79th Division Head- Ville (City Hall) The citadel is located
quarters, October 29–November 9. o n t h e we s t e r n e d g e o f t h e c i t y. I t s
The route leading east from the next town, underg round compar tments ser ved to
Bras, shown in broken lines on the map at house various French headquarters and
the end of the chapter, is a tour of the French thousands of reserves during the great
forts near Verdun. It will take the visitor to battles near here in 1916–17. In the
the Trench of Bayonets, Fort Douaumont, house of the bishop, which adjoins the
the Ossuary of Douaumont and other places cathedral, is a museum which contains
and monuments of general interest. battlef ield souvenirs as well as ancient
(90.9 m 146.3 km) At Bras, the next r e l i c s o f t h e c i t y. T h e c a t h e d r a l a n d
village, was located the 26th Division cloister, badly damaged during the war,
Headquarters, October 18–November 11. are of interest. The Hôtel-de-Ville, lo-
(91.1 m 146.6 km) Beyond the town, on cated on Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, contains
the right side of the road, is located a an excellent museum, and in the building
French World War militar y cemeter y. are the many beautiful tokens of esteem
(94.9 m 162.7 km) Continue to Verdun. given to the city by various nations in
The mileage ends at the railroad station. appreciation of its heroic defense in 1916.
SECOND DAY’S TOUR OF THE AMERICAN MEUSE-
ARGONNE BATTLEFIELDS

T HIS tour starts at the Mew-Argonne


American Cemetery near Romagne
and ends at Verdun. It is about 93 miles
about the American f ighting in the vi-
cinity. If f irst day’s tour has not already
been followed, read also pages 247–248
(150 kilometers) long and can be com- which give a description of this cemetery.
pleted within approximately eight hours. When following this itinerar y, unless
To save time lunch should be carried. contrary road instructions are given, the
The greater part of the tour is in the tourist should continue straight ahead.
a r e a c a p t u r e d by t h e A m e r i c a n Fi r s t
EN ROUTE CHAPEL MEUSE-ARGONNE AMERI-
Army between November 1 and 11, 1918.
CAN CEMETERY TO NORTH OF CUNEL
It is recommended to persons who have
been over the f irst day’s tour and to others Speedometer distance is measured from
who are especially interested in the last the plaza immediately in front of the chapel.
part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. (0.0 m 0.0 km) Leave the chapel and
The data given on pages 520–521 will cemetery by the road to the right.
be helpful to those following this tour. (0.6 m 1.0 km) Down the road, to the
In case the f irst day’s tour has not been left of the next village, Cunel, is seen the
followed, it is suggested that the tourist Bois de la Pultière, an exceptionally strong
in going to the starting point of the sec- point in the German defensive organiza-
ond day’s tour follow the f irst day' s tour tion. It was taken on October 14 by the
from Verdun to Montfaucon and from 3d and 5th Divisions after hard f ighting.
there proceed via Nantillois and Cunel. (1.4 m 2.3 km) At the church in the vil-
The narrative at the beginning of the lage of Cunel turn to the left.
chapter should be kept in mind, and the (1.6 m 2.6 km) Beyond town, by look-
map facing page 326 should be consulted, ing to the left, may be had a f ine view of
so that the combat operations which took the exposed slopes and ridges over which
place in the region of this tour will be t h e A m e r i c a n t r o o p s a d va n c e d . T h e
more clearly understood by the tourist. commanding situation of the many Ger-
Upon ar riving at the Meuse-Argonne man machine-gun positions located near
American Cemetery, go to chapel and the edge of the Bois de la Pultière, which
read pages 248–253, giving information is seen to the right, is evident from there.

German Anti-Tank Gun in Firing Position, October 1918. © G


274 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From Stop

(2.4 m 3.9 km) Beyond the village cem- their f ire started to cut down the advanc-
etery, on the second crest, where a good ing lines. The conduct of the American
panorama is obtained of the terrain to the troops in overcoming the resistance in
front and right front, STOP. this vicinity and in forcing their way for-
The town ahead in the valley is Banthe- ward is beyond all praise.
ville. The village marked by the scat- If we consider with the above the fact
tered houses to the right of Bantheville that the Germans were using every energy
and some distance from it is Andevanne. and means at their command to check the
Face Andevanne, the direction to which advance on this front and thus protect
is approximately north. their vital railroad at Sedan, the task
Beyond Andevanne is Sedan, 25 miles performed by the American Army will be
from here, through which ran the lateral clearer and much better appreciated.
railroad which was the main goal of the Positions in the woods near here fre-
American Meuse-Argonne offensive. quently changed hands several times on
For dauntless courage and the overcom- the same day and the opposing lines at
ing of seemingly impossible obstacles, the night were sometimes but a few yards
f ighting of the American soldier up to and apar t. The situation was so balanced
immediately beyond this point is unsur- that a moment’s relaxation by either side
passed in the history of the war. risked immediate loss of men and ground.
On the ridges behind here was located
the famous Hindenburg Line, the Ger-
man defensive position constructed with 90th Division Ration Party Going Forward
Through the Bois des Rappes,
the hope that it would be impregnable. October 25, 1918
Along the heights in front of here was the
Ger man Freya position, planned with
the idea that it would be held, in case
por tions of the Hindenburg Line were
b r o ke n t h r o u g h , u n t i l t h o s e p o r t i o n s
could be regained by counterattacks.
A glance at the landscape with its
ridges, woods and open f ields will give
some idea of the diff iculties which the
American units had to overcome. Each
patch of woods was skillfully organized as
a strong point and numerous enemy ma-
chine guns in them and in other concealed
positions often were not discovered until
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 275

North of Cunel

After the capture of Romagne, seen in is seen just to the right of this road.
the valley to the left, and Côte Dame On October 23 the 90th Division, which
Marie, the high wooded peak just beyond had relieved the 5th Division on the pre-
it, the 32d Division continued to advance ceding day, attacked from the ridge to
until it had over run mast of the Bois de the left rear and from the Bois de
Bantheville, the large wood which covers Bantheville, captured Bantheville and
the tops of the hills to the left and left established itself beyond that town. The
front. The 89th Division relieved the division front line on that night extended
32d on October 20, on a line which in- across the open f ields from the Bois des
cluded the wooded hill on the sky line seen Rappes to the end of the wood seen to the
just to the right of the church in Banthe- left of Le Grand Carré Farm.
ville. It later succeeded in capturing the The wooded ridges on the sky line to
remainder of that wood and in advancing the left of Andevanne are Bar ricour t
through it to near Le Grand Carré Farm, Heights, and the most prominent wooded
the group of buildings seen on the hill hill seen borne distance to the right of
beyond the village of Bantheville. that village is Hill 343.
The 5th Division after eight days of The Freya position in front of here ran
intense and bitter f ighting f inally com- along Barricourt Heights, passed through
pleted, on October 21, the capture of the Andevanne, included Hill 343 and con-
Bois des Rappes, the large wood which tinued on through the Bois de Sassey,
which is partially visible on the horizon
Machine Gun Firing at German Plane Near Cunel,
beyond the Bois des Rappes.
October 1918 The date f ixed by the First Army for the
general assault against this strong
German line was November 1. The III,
V and I Corps, in that order from right
to left, were to take part in the attack.
The V Cor ps, which was to make the
main advance, was in the center of the
Ar my zone of attack and had the 89th
Division in line to the left of Le Grand
Carré Farm, and the 2d Division on the
far side of the 89th, with its front line
just beyond Côte de Châtillon, the
wooded hill seen to the left front in the
distance peeping up over the Bois de
Bantheville. The immediate mission of
276 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

the V Corps was to capture the dominat- immediately in front of here, and the 5th
ing Barricourt Heights, the accomplish- Division, which had reentered the line,
ment of which was certain to cause the the one beyond the Bois des Rappes.
Germans on this front to retire in haste The I Corps, on the left of the Army,
across the Meuse River toward Germany. was to cover the flank of the V Cor ps
The III Corps, in front of and to the right and was given an objective in the right

of here, was to assist in the main par t of its zone of action which was
attack and be ready to force its way over about 4 miles in advance of its front line.
the Meuse River, which is about 3 1 / 2 miles A f t e r a n ex t r e m e ly h e av y a r t i l l e r y
away to the right and runs just the other bombardment lasting two hours, the at-
side of the Bois de Sassey. In this corps, tack was launched on the mor ning of
the 90th Division had the zone of attack November 1. When the infantry jumped
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 277

German Machine Gun Unit Going Into Position. © G

off at 5:30 a. m. all available artillery f ire M e u s e R ive r d u r i n g i t s a d va n c e a n d


was concentrated in a rolling bar rage reached the banks of that stream to the
about 1,100 yards in depth, which pro- right of the Bois de Sassey on November
gressed immediately in front of the ad- 3 ; t h e s a m e d ay t h e 9 0 t h D iv i s i o n
va n c i n g l i n e s . T h i s i n t e n s e a n d e x - reached the river by f ighting its way
tremely effective f ire and the severity of forward through that dense wood.
the infantry assault so overwhelmed the The I Corps, on the left of the Army,
German defenders that the attack was a which faced the unbroken Hindenburg
remarkable success from the outset. Line on most of its front, met stubborn
The 2d and 89th Divisions, to the left resistance during the f irst day of the at-
of here, captured Barricourt Heights by tack but in spite of this drove forward
early afternoon: while in front of here the an average distance of 3 / 4 mile. That
9 0 t h D iv i s i o n t o o k A n d e va n n e , t h e night, due to the deep advance of the
wooded ridge seen to the right of and V Cor ps, the German troops in front of
beyond Andevanne, and Chassogne Farm, the I Corps retired and from then on its
seen to the right front below the sky line. progress was exceptionally rapid.
The f ighting was severe but the dash of The battle soon became a pursuit, the
the American troops was ir resistible. enemy f ighting a delaying action. All
Hill 343, an exceptionally strong position, American divisions pushed forward rap-
held out until the afternoon of Novem- idly until they reached the Meuse River,
ber 2, when it was captured by soldiers of which flows obliquely across the direc-
the 90th Division after a bitter struggle. tion of advance of the Army and passes
The 5th Division swung toward the through Sedan. From November 1 on

German Artillery Being Hauled Into Position by Oxen, 1918. © G


278 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

de Babiémont. In spite of two deter-


mined assaults on November 1 the 5th
Division was unable to take that wood
until the morning of the next day.
(2.9 m 4.7 km) Before reaching rail-
road (which was not here in 1918) on
right of road, is a 5th Division marker,
one of many erected by that division after
the Armistice on or near its battlef ields.
(3.0 m 4.8 km) While crossing the rail-
road, to the right down the valley is seen
an isolated bald-topped hill, called Côte
St. Ger main, which is situated on the
other side of the Meuse River. That hill
will be passed close up later in the tour.
(3.3 m 5.3 km) In Bantheville, where
the road ends turn to the right; at road
fork at edge of town, bear left.
After capturing Bantheville on October
2 3 , t h e 9 0 t h D iv i s i o n e s t a bl i s h e d i t s
front line near the crest of the hill which
is seen to the right of this road.
It is reported that on that hill a 90th
D iv i s i o n s o l d i e r, o f I t a l i a n d e s c e n t ,
charged a machine-gun nest manned by
six Germans. After killing three of the
enemy he made prisoners of the others and
marched them nearly 8 miles to division
headquarters where, in broken English, he
insisted upon telling the division com-
mander about his experiences.
(4.6 m 7.2 km) Near top of hill, the wood
Observation Balloon Hit by German Shells
seen ahead is the northern end of the
Coming Down in Flames
The balloonists are descending by parachute Tender of an Observation Balloon Mounted
with Two Machine Guns for
the progress of the American Army was Anti-Aircraft Defense
continuous until halted by the Armistice.
From here to Bar, which is 10 miles
away to the left front, the described route
runs generally northwest traversing in suc-
cession the zones of action of the American
90th, 89th, 2d and 80th Divisions.
EN ROUTE NORTH OF CUNEL
TO HILL 289
(2.7 m 4.3 km) While descending hill,
to the right in the valley is seen the village
of Aincreville which was captured on
October 30 by the 5th Division.
(2.8 m 4.5 km) The small wood which
is seen just above Aincreville is the Bois
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 279

Bois de Bantheville. After its capture on were then along the edge of the wood to
October 22, the Germans bombarded it the left rear, under continuous machine-
almost continuously with high explosive gun f ire and rescued two wounded officers.
shells and mustard gas projectiles. For conspicuous gallantry and utter dis-
(4.6 m 7.4 km) At top of hill, to the regard for their own safety while perform-
right front is seen Le Grand Carré Farm, ing this deed of mercy these men were
captured on November 1 by the 90th awarded Congressional Medals of Honor.
Division: and beyond it to the right, Hill I n t h e wo o d s e e n o n t h e h i l l a h e a d
343, taken by that division the next day. occurred the heroic act of First Lieutenant

Road Between Bantheville and Rémonville, November 1918


This road is passed over on the described tour

(5.1 m 8.2 km) At the road fork in the Harold A. Furlong, 89th Division, which
next valley, bear right and STOP near the is illustrative of the many individual feats
road junction without leaving automobile. of bravery performed by the American
Note the wartime condition of this val- soldiers during the November 1 attack.
ley as shown by the above photograph In this wood Lieutenant Furlong, f inding
taken after the American advance. In his company held up on that morning by
the photograph the road climbing the hill withering machine-gun f ire which killed
is the one the tourist has just descended. his company commander, moved out alone
This road junction was on the First and worked his way into the Ger man
Army jump-off line of November 1 and position. He succeeded in getting behind
also was on the boundary line between the the line of machine guns and closed in on
zones of the 89th and 90th Divisions. them one at a time, killing a number of
I t wa s t o t h e l e f t o f h e r e t h a t o n the enemy with his rifle, putting four
October 31 Private First Class Charles machine-gun nests out of action, and
D. Barger and Private Jesse N. Funk, driving 20 Ger man prisoners into the
89th Division, upon their own initiative, American lines. For his exceptional dar-
made two trips as stretcher bearers 500 ing this courageous officer was later award-
yards beyond the American lines, which ed the Congressional Medal of Honor.
280 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From Stop North

(5.6 m 9.0 km) Continue to the top of can be seen at the foot of the wooded
the next crest, where a few buildings can heights on the sky line to the right of and
be seen to the left front in the valley, beyond the buildings of La Dhuy Farm.
STOP without leaving the automobile. From St. Juvin it continued on for about
The above panorama is from this point. 4 miles and joined the French line near
The nearest buildings are those of La the edge of the wooded heights on the
Dhuy Farm. To the right of them in the sky line, which to the left of St. Juvin are
valley can be seen a few houses of the vil- the Argonne Forest and to the right of
lage of Landres-et-St. Georges. that town are the Bois de Bourgogne.
At this point can be obtained a good The 89th Division jumped off from the
view of a large part of the jump-off line line to the left of here. The center of its
of the First Army on November 1. zone of action passed through the wood
From the road junction just passed, the seen down the road ahead. The 2d Divi-
line followed the edge of the large wood, sion started from Côte de Châtillon and
seen to the left across the valley, and in- b eyo n d . L a n d r e s - e t - S t . G e o rg e s wa s
cluded Côte de Châtillon, the nearest near the center of its zone of action.
prominent wooded hill seen to the left. These divisions, which had fought side by
From there it ran approximately parallel side in the St. Mihiel offensive, were the
to this road and included St. Juvin, which assault divisions of the V Corps which

American Tanks Beside a Machine-Gun Nest Which They Put out of Action on
November 1, 1918, South of Bayonville
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 281

of Bois de Bantheville

was expected to make the greatest initial German Freya position, which ran along
penetration of the corps on the Army front. those heights, is evident from here. Note
The 80th Division was beyond the 2d; the steep exposed slopes up which the
the line of the 77th included St. Juvin, American troops had to advance and the
which was near the center of its sector; woods along the tops of the hills which
and the 78th was still farther on, the near afforded the enemy good concealment
edge of the wooded heights being the far and excellent protection for his troops.
boundary of its prescribed zone of attack. Near this road on November 1, Ser-
Continue. geant Ar thur J. For rest, 89th Division,
(6.6 m 10.6 km) While approaching the won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
next village, Rémonville, beyond it to the When the advance of his company was
right and left are seen Barricourt Heights, held up by f ire from a nest of six enemy
the f irst main objective of the American machine guns, Sergeant Forrest worked
A r my i n i t s N ove m b e r 1 a t t a c k . H i l l his way alone to a point within 50 yards
299, seen beyond the town, was in the of the machine-gun nest. Charging the
zone of action of the 2d Division. Ré- nest singlehanded, he drove the enemy out
monville and the heights to the right of in disorder, killing one with the butt of
Hill 299 were in that of the 89th Division. his rifle. This gallant exploit permitted
The natural defensive strength of the the advance of his company to continue.
Rémonville Soon After Its Capture by the 89th Division on
November 1, 1918
282 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Reloading Artillery Ammunition in Rémonville, November 2, 1918

80th Division Troops Passing Through Imécourt, November 3, 1918


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 283

(7.3 m 11.7 km) In the village of Ré- afternoon of November 1. The 89th was
monville, at the place where the road abreast of the 2d on its right. On Novem-
ends, turn to the left: at the far edge of ber 2 the 89th Division advanced the right
the village, turn to the right. of its line about 2 miles farther.
(7.5 m 12.1 km) A short distance be- (8.9 m 14.3 km) At entrance to village,
yond town the zone of action of the 2d take the road to the right and continue
Division during the advance is entered. through town toward Buzancy.
(7.7 m 12.4 km) While ascending hill, Bayonville was captured in the morn-
to the left in the valley is seen Landreville, ing of November 1 by the 2d Division.

German Warning Against Airplane at Bayonville

where the 2d Division about 9:00 a. m. on (9.3 m 15.0 km) Beyond town, while
November 1 encountered strong resistance ascending hill, to the left in the valley is
from numerous machine guns. These seen Imécourt which was captured about
guns were f inally overcome and the ad- 11: 00 o’clock in the morning of Novem-
vance was continued on over this hill. ber 1 by the 80th Division, after which
(8.7 m 14.0 km) While approaching the a severe counterattack against the troops
next village, Bayonville, to the right are in the village was repulsed.
seen the wooded heights upon which the (10.1 m 16.3 km) Beyond next high
2d Division established its lines on the crest, continue 80 yards, then STOP.
284 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From Stop

The large tree on this crest (1937) can Verpel, the second village seen to the left.
be seen from the monument on Mont- On the f irst day of the attack the I Corps
faucon and is a conspicuous landmark met great resistance at the Hindenburg
from many other places in this region. Line and the progress of its units was
Face down the road, which at this place slow, except for the right of the 80th
runs approximately northwest. Division which captured the small wooded
This point is on Hill 289 and was near areas on this slope, including those seen
the boundary line between the zones of in the foreground to the right front. The
action of the 2d and 80th Divisions. front line of the division that night ran
The tour has just entered the area cap- from near here to the left rear for approxi-
tured by the I Corps, the left corps of the mately 4 miles, almost parallel to the
First Army in its November offensive. direction of advance of the Army.
The other boundary of its zone of action On November 2, due to the withdrawal
ran dose to the far edge' of the Bois de of the Germans on the previous night, the
Bourgogne, the large wooded area seen on progress in the I Corps was rapid and by
the sky line to the left and left front. that evening all its divisions had reached
The I Corps objective during the No- a line beyond this point, the 80th Division
vember 1 attack was a line running near having captured the bald-topped hill seen

German Artillery Position Near Landreville Soon After Its Capture


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 285

on Hill 289

to the left front, and the right of the 77th wood was one of the strongest points of
being abreast of it, The left of the 77th the Hindenburg Line and proved impos-
Division was to the observer’s right of sible to capture by direct assault. It was
Thénorgues, the f irst village seen to the occupied early in the morning of Novem-
left front over the ridge, and the 78th ber 2 by the American soldiers after the
Division was to the right of Briquenay, German troops had been withdrawn.
the village seen beyond Thénorgues.
EN ROUTE HILL 280 TO NORTH OF BAR
The nearest town seen to the left is
Sivry-les-Buzancy, captured by the 80th (11.0 m 17.7 km) While approaching
Division on November 2. The town just the next town, Buzancy, to the right across
beyond it is Ver pel, occupied by the 77th the valley are seen the heights to which
Division the same day. The towns seen the Germans withdrew their main forces
b e yo n d Ve r p e l , n e a r t h e f o o t o f t h e on the night of November 1–2. The 80th
wooded heights, were in the zone of action Division, on November 2, established its
of the 78th Division, which had been held lines to the right in the valley at the foot
up on November 1 in front of the Bois des of this hill, facing the German position.
Loges, the first prominent wooded hill seen (11.3 m 18.2 km) Before entering town,
to the left of and beyond Ver pel. That a Ger man military cemetery is passed.

German Positions Captured by the 2d Division


American Infantry Passing Through Buzancy, November 3, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 287

Troops West of Bar, Compelled to Pass


Below: At Bar, November 4, 1918
Around Bridge Being Repaired,
Engineer soldier having fun with passing troops
November 3, 1918
over the name of the town
Buzancy was formerly a fortif ied town.
In the War of 1870 between Prussia and
France cavalry f ighting took place near it.
(11.9 m 19.2 km) After entering town,
note that many of the walls and buildings
on the right side of the street are still
(1937) marked by rifle and machine-gun
bullets from the fighting in the vicinity.
(12.3 m 19.8 km) In center of Buzancy,
bear right; pass church, then bear left.
This town was captured by the 80th Divi-
sion early on the afternoon of November 2
after brisk f ighting. Shortly thereafter it
was under heavy hostile ar tiller y and
machine-gun f ire, and in flames.
A f t e r t h e A m e r i c a n s h a d a d va n c e d
beyond it, the only roads available for the
77th and 80th Divisions passed through
B u z a n cy. K n ow i n g t h a t t h e s e wo u l d
be crowded, the Ger mans shelled and
bombed the crossroads in town for several
d ay s , t h u s m a k i n g t h e m ov e m e n t o f
troops and supplies through this village a
hazardous and diff icult undertaking.
Buzancy was the 80th Division Head-
quarters during the period November 4–7.
(13.0 m 20.9 km) At the near edge of
the next village, Bar, the zone of action
of the 17th Division is entered.
(13.2 m 21.2 km) Pass through Bar,
which was captured during the afternoon
of November 2 by the 77th Division.

(287)
288 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From

(13.5 m 21.7 km) Beyond the town, at this side of it. The 80th Division front
the first road crossing, turn to the right. line ran from near Bar to the observer’s
(14.0 m 22.5 km) Just before reaching left for about 2 1 / 2 miles. Part of the 77th
the f irst LEFT bend in the road, STOP. Division was at the foot of these slopes,
To the right rear in the valley is Bar. its line including Bar. The rest of that
Face just to the right of Bar, which division was just this side of Thénorgues,
direction is approximately south. the village seen directly ahead in the
To the left front is Buzancy. Beyond distance. The valley between here and
and to the left of it, the most prominent there was in many places knee deep in
wooded hill is Hill 289, which was the water and impassable. The front line of
last stop on this tour. To the left of it, the 78th Division was located to the
in the distance, there is visible the near observer’s right of and some distance on
end of the wooded Barricourt Heights. this side of the village of Thénorgues.
When the Germans facing the I Corps On November 3 the German positions
withdrew during the night of November here were attacked and car ried by the
1–2, they established new temporar y American troops, the main enemy forces
positions on these slopes with their front having retired during the night. This
line running close to this point. Machine procedure—in which the Germans retired
gun units and detachments of other their main forces to a new position at
troops had been left behind to delay the night but left machine gun units scattered
American advance as much as possible. in strong defensive positions to hinder
O ve r c o m i n g t h e r e s i s t a n c e o n t h e i r pursuit, and in which the Americans ad-
front in sharp f ighting in the morning, the vanced the next day, overcame the de-
divisions of the I Corps advanced rapidly. ter mined machine gun resistance and
The 80th and 77th Divisions reached the fought their way forward toward the new
wide valley in front of here during the position until stopped in front of it—was
afternoon and established positions on repeated almost daily until November 7
American 34-Centimeter Gun
at which time all German troops on the
on Railroad Mount First Ar my front had been withdrawn
to the east of the Meuse River.
The village of Fossé, seen on top of the
hill to the left rear, was near the boundary
line between the 2d and 80th Divisions.
It was taken by troops of the 2d Divi-
sion about 6:00 a. m. on November 3.
The village seen on the sky line to the
right is Belleville-sur-Bar. On the hill-
side some distance to the left of it is seen
Boult-aux-Bois, near which, on the morn-
ing of November 3, the 78th Division
joined with a unit of the French Fourth
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 289

Stop Near Bar

Army which had advanced on the far side fork, turn to the right and descend toward
of the Bois de Bourgogne, thus pinching Vaux-en-Dieulet, which is seen ahead in
out that strong defensive feature. the valley. That town was captured on
The f irst town, Autruche, seen to the November 4 by the 80th Division.
right rear, was taken by the 77th Division (17.5 m 28.2 km) While descending
about noon on November 3. The village hill, to the right front is seen a large high
seen beyond it, Authe, had been occupied hill, Hill 308, f ire from which stopped the
just before noon by the 78th Division. advance of the right flank units of the
To the right of Autruche, on the sky 80th Division on November 3.
line, is seen a patch of woods which marks (18.1 m 29.1 km) In Vaux-en-Dieulet,
the ridge just beyond the village of Verri- at the church, bear to the left.
ères. After a sharp f ight that town was (18.4 m 29.6 km) At road junction be-
captured by the 78th Division about 5:00 yond the town, bear to the right.
p.m. on November 3. The troops of the (19.0 m 30.6 km) Where large hill de-
division then established their front line scends to road, the zone of action of the
on the ridge located beyond the town. 2d Division and V Corps is again entered.
For the next 10 miles the tour goes with (19.6 m 31.5 km) Just before reaching
the direction of advance of the American the f irst road junction, STOP without
Fi r s t A r my a n d p a s s e s ove r t e r r i t o r y leaving the automobile.
captured by the 80th and 2d Divisions. The large buildings seen to the right up
the valley are those of Château de Belval,
EN ROUTE NEAR BAR TO SOUTH
captured by the 2d Division before 9:00
OF BEAUMONT
a. m. on November 3. The progress of
(14.5 m 23.3 km) Beyond next crest to the units of the division was then stopped
the right front is seen the valley up which by heavy f ire from the woods which are
the 80th Division advanced on November seen ahead and to the left of this road.
3. Strong resistance was encountered The infantry regiments of the division
near the upper part of that valley. German Monument to Their Dead in the
(15.0 m 24.1 km) At the first road fork, Operations Near Beaumont in 1870
keep to the right.
(15.4 m 24.8 km) At f irst crest, to the
left front in the distance is seen the high
wooded hill, Mont du Cygne, taken by the
77th Division on November 5. Mont-
faucon, 16 miles away, can be seen in the
distance to the right on the sky line.
(17.1 m 27.5 km) Beyond first sharp
S-bend in road, on the next crest the 80th
Division line of November 3 crossed this
road approximately at right angles to it.
(17.3 m 27.8 km) At next main road
American and French Soldiers After Meeting at Boult-aux-Bois, November 3, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 291

(it had two regiments of infantry and two 2d Division column reached here the farm
of marines) were ordered to make a vigor- was full of sleeping Germans who were
ous advance that evening. Soon after captured without diff iculty and sent to
dark these regiments started forward in the rear under a strong guard.
column in advance-guard formation, led (21.1 m 34.0 km) Just beyond the farm,
by German-speaking soldiers, with the the American troops routed a hostile bat-
high g round near Beaumont, about 3 talion engaged in digging trenches.
miles to the left front, as their goal. After A short distance farther on, an enemy
breaking through the hostile front line, machine gun company that had halted
the two regiments, with a battalion of along the road was captured.
marines between them, moved forward (23.1 m 37.2 km) Beyond the wood, at
rapidly; and as the night was extremely the f irst group of buildings, La Tuilerie
dark the marching troops passed practi- Farm, approximately 40 German soldiers
cally unnoticed. Such resistance as was were surprised and made prisoners.
met was eliminated as quietly as possible The monument across the road from
by having the head of the column stop this farm is a monument in commemora-
while detachments from the rear worked tion of German dead in the War of 1870.

Interior of Beaumont Church

their way around the flanks of the oppos- (23.5 m 37.8 km) Continue beyond the
ing units and overcame them. Hostile next buildings, which are La Petite Forêt
artillery that was seen f iring from the Farm, about 300 yards, then STOP.
woods at objectives within the American Emerging from the woods in rear of here
lines was left unmolested so as not to s h o r t ly a f t e r m i d n i g h t , t h e 2 d D iv i -
alarm the enemy as its capture would be sion column deployed, at right angles to
assured by the success of the march. this road, on a line passing near this point.
Continue. The units of the column were then about
(19.6 m 31.5 km) At the road junction, 4 miles ahead of the adjoining divisions.
turn sharp left toward Beaumont. It is an interesting fact that the route
(20.7 m 33.3 km) After entering wood, taken by the 2d Division coincided with
at road junction where road bends sharp- that used by the Germans on August 30,
ly to left, the tour joins the route followed 1870, when they surprised and defeated
by the units of the 2d Division at the the French who were camped near Beau-
time of their daring night maneuver. mont. The German monuments located
(20.9 m 33.6 km) The first group of near La Tuilerie Farm and the village of
buildings is La Forge Farm. When the Beaumont commemorate that operation.
292 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From Stop

Face down the road, which direction at the left rear, and the 89th Division, to
this point is approximately northeast. the right of here, had come up abreast
The Meuse River is only 2 miles away; of the 2d Division. There were, however,
the wooded hill which is seen straight ahead wide gaps in the front line in the intervals
on the sky line is on the other side of it. between the zones of these three divisions.
Shortly before noon on November 4 the On the next day the 89th and 2d Divi-
2d Division attacked from its line near sions advanced to the bluffs of the Meuse,
here toward Beaumont, whose church is the 89th Division occupying the Forêt de
seen in the valley to the left front. In- J a u l n ay, t h e l a rg e wo o d s e e n o n t h e
tense hostile f ire was immediately en- horizon to the right front, while the 2d
countered from the front and flanks and Division moved to the top of the wooded
after heavy losses the attempt to advance hill which is seen almost directly ahead.
was given up. The division front line Beaumont was mopped up about dawn
was then established across this road on November 5 by troops of the 2d and
about 100 yards ahead, and along this 80th Divisions. The 80th Division front
side of the ridge seen to the right front. line that night ran from near Beaumont
By the evening of November 4 the 80th to the vicinity of the buildings, La
Division had established itself along the Thibaudine Farm, seen to the left in the
edge of the large wood partially seen to trees on top of the hill across the valley.

42d Division Troops Resting in Front of Cheveuges,


Near Sedan, November 7, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 293

South of Beaumont

The farm seen to the left front across (24.7 m 39.8 km) Near the center of
the valley is La Harnoterie Farm, occupied the village, beyond the church, bear left.
by the 80th Division early on the 6th. The tour has now tur ned west, away
About dawn on November 6 the 1st from the Meuse River, and for 4 miles
Division relieved the 80th Division and runs about at right angles to the direction
d u r i n g t h e m o r n i n g a d va n c e d t o t h e of advance of the First Army.
Meuse River. At approximately 7:30 in (24.9 m 40.1 km) At the far edge of town,
the evening it moved toward Sedan, 10 the zone of action of the 80th Division
m i l e s away t o t h e l e f t f r o n t . T h e 2 d during the advance is again entered.
Division took over the zone thus vacated. (25.6 m 41.2 km) At top of neat high
hill to the left rear across the valley is
EN ROUTE SOUTH OF BEAUMONT TO NORTH
s e e n L a Pe t i t e Fo r ê t Fa r m , wh i c h i s
OF PONT-MAUGIS
situated in the vicinity of the last stop.
(23.5 m 37.8 km) Fifty yards farther on, To the right front near the edge of the
to the right of the road is seen a 2d Divi- nearest wood, the buildings barely visible
sion boulder marker, one of many erected because of the trees are those of La
by that division on its former battlef ields. Harnoterie Farm. Machine-gun f ire from
(24.4 m 39.3 km) At the near edge of that farm on the afternoon of November 5
the village of Beaumont, turn to the left. stopped the advance of the 80th Division.

German Infantry Firing With Telescopic Sights,


November 1918. © G
294 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

From this crest on for about 2 1 / 2 miles sion on November 5. The division met
the front line of the 80th Division, which determined resistance just beyond town
had been advanced from the left on No- which could not be overcome during that
vember 5, was close to this road. d ay. O n t h e n e x t d a y, h owev e r, i t s
(26.5 m 42.6 km) The buildings passed advance units moved rapidly forward to
next are those of La Thibaudine Farm, the Meuse River, 5 3 / 4 miles away.
which was captured by the 80th Division (31.2 m 50.2 km) About 13/4 miles far-
during its advance on November 5. ther on, at sharp S-bend in road, to the
(27.6 m 44.4 km) At next group of right up the valley is seen Flaba near
buildings, there is seen straight down the which the 77th Division encountered
road a high prominent ridge upon which machine-gun resistance on the morning of
is the village of Stonne, captured on November 6. It also met with resistance
November 5 by the 77th Division. on the slopes seen to the left of this road.
The 42d Division, which relieved the (32.7 m 52.6 km) Continue through
78th Division on November 5, had ad- Raucourt, captured about 2:10 p. m. on
vanced by evening so that its front line November 6 by the 77th Division.
was about in prolongation of this road on T h e b o u n d a r y b e t we e n t h e 4 2 d a n d
the other side of the village of Stonne. 77th Divisions during the advance was
(28.8 m 46.3 km) At the next crossroad, just beyond the small stream in the valley
turn to the right. which the tour is now following.
From here until the Meuse River is It is reported that the inhabitants of
reached the tour follows along the zone some of the towns displayed white flags
of action of the 77th Division. at the approach of the American forces,
(29.5 m 47.5 km) The next village, La to prevent the advancing troops from
Besace, was captured by the 77th Divi- f iring on places which wore not defended

77th Division Anti-Aircraft Post at Raucourt, November 10, 1918


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 295

French peasants Expressing Their Joy at Liberation by the Americans,


November 6, 1918

by German soldiers. As the advance guards high hill was where part of the front line
entered the villages, the joy of the people of the 42d Division was located during
at being liberated after four years of the period from November 7 to 9.
German occupation knew no bounds. (36.5 m 58.7 km) Just before reaching
(34.2 m 55.0 km) The next village , next town, Remilly-sur-Meuse, to the
Haraucourt, was entered at about the left front is seen the city of Sedan.
same time on November 6 by units of (36.8 m 59.2 km) Remilly, which is on
both the 42d and 77th Divisions. the Meuse River, was occupied about 4:30
(34.9 m 56.2 km) Beyond town, at f irst on the after noon of November 6 by a
high crest, the hills seen down the valley battalion from the 77th Division.
are on the far side of the Meuse River. (37.0 m 59.5 km) At the far side of
The line of the 42d Division on November Remilly-sur-Meuse, turn to the left.
6 ran to the left up the slopes seen across (38.3 m 61.6 km) While approaching
the valley, it having advanced from near first bend in road, to the right front is seen
Stonne, recently pointed out, on that day. the steel bridge over which the Metz-
(35.6 m 57.3 km) Continue through Sedan-Mézières railway crosses the Meuse
Angecourt, captured during November 6 River. The cutting of this railroad was
by the troops of the 77th Division. the main objective of the American First
(36.4 m 58.6 km) Beyond the town of Army in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
Angecourt to the left on the crest of the As soon as the advancing troops reached a
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 297

point from which long-range guns could Germans established a bridgehead posi-
f ire on the railway, it was subjected to tion to protect Sedan. It ran from Pont-
p e r i o d i c b o m b a r d m e n t s by A m e r i c a n Maugis, jut passed through, included
artillery in order to prevent traff ic over it. Noyers, the village which can be seen to
When on the morning of November 7, the left up the valley, and extended, in
American units captured a commanding the direction the reader is facing, from
position on the hills to the left of this road, there on over the hill beyond Noyers.
the great value of this railroad to the Ger- (See the sketch on the opposite page.)
man Army was destroyed. It is a striking On the after noon of November 5 the
coincidence that on this same day the I Corps was directed to capture Sedan,
German representatives crossed the battle assisted on its right by the V Corps, As
line to ask the Allied Commander-in- a result of a misconception in the V Corps
Chief to grant an immediate armistice. of the exact intent of the orders, the 1st

1st Division Troops Advancing Through Thélonne Under Machine-Gun Fire,


November 7, 1918

(38.7 m 62.3 km) Beyond the bend, Division crossed the zone of action of
along the left side of this road overlook- the 77th Division and entered that of the
ing the bridge was the location during 42d Division. This resulted in both
November 7 of the battle position of one the 1st and 42d Divisions operating in
regiment of the 42d Division. this general region on November 6 and 7.
(39.6 m 63.7 km) Beyond next village, B e f o r e d ay l i g h t o n N ov e m b e r 7 a
Pont-Maugis, at the bottom of the first column of troops of the 1st Division cap-
little valley running to the left, STOP. tured a Ger man wagon train in Pont-
Face to the left front, which direction Maugis, partially mopped up the town in
is approximately west. hand-to-hand f ighting and then moved up
The large city which is seen to the right a l i t t l e va l l ey t owa r d s T h é l o n n e , n o t
about 2 miles down the river is Sedan. visible, about a mile to the left over the
During the night of November 6–7 the hill. En route there it suffered heavily
298 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

from f ire from that hill, from across the The efforts of the American First Army
Meuse River and from the south, but were then directed toward forcing the
most of the column succeeded in joining Germans back from the Meuse River, in
other troops of its division near Thélonne. rear of here, preparatory to a general
Pant-Maugis was reentered by German offensive in the direction of the town of
troops but was retaken again about 2:00 Longwy and the Briey iron mines.
o' clock in the afternoon by an engineer In Sedan the tour changes direction
company of the 1st Division. and follows the other side of the Meuse
During the morning of November 7 the River valley back to Verdun. The Amer-
1st and 42d Divisions attacked the Ger- ican operations described from now on
man bridgehead positions on the hills to are mainly efforts to cross the valley. A
the front and left of here. After intense general idea of the size and character of
f ighting, they succeeded in capturing the Meuse River may be obtained at this
these positions shortly after midday, and stop. It should also be noted that for a
forced the German troops to retire still large part of the way there is a canal in
closer to Sedan. The American front the valley and that during the time of the
line was then established on the Sedan American operations the valley was in
side of Hill 252, seen to the front, after places flooded by the autumn rains and
which patrols of the 42d Division ad- by obstructions in the river. The cross-
vanced to within 100 yards of Wadelin- ing of such a valley in the face of an
court, the next village down the road. energetic enemy could, of course, only be
The French desired, probably for senti- accomplished by sur prise and with a
mental reasons, to be the f irst to enter superior concentration of forces.
Sedan; so during the night of November
EN ROUTE PONT MAUGIS TO NEAR
7-8 the positions on the hills in front of
MOULINS
here were turned over to them. The left
boundary of the First Army was at that (40.0 m 64.4 km) A short distance farther
time changed by the Allied Commander- on, to the left of the road is seen a 1st
in-Chief so that it ran in a nor theast- Division monument upon which is a list
erly direction passing near Pont-Maugis. of its dead in the f ighting in this region.

Railway Station at Sedan


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 299

War of 1870 Museum at Bazeilles

(40.6 m 65.3 km) Continue on main the next town, Bazeilles, on the left is an
road through the village of Wadelincourt. interesting museum of the War of 1870,
(41.4 m 66.6 km) In Sedan, at the called “La Maison de la Dernière Car-
railroad station turn sharply to the right. t o u c h e ” . T h e s c e n e o f N e u v i l l e ’s f a -
This part of the city is known as Torcy. m o u s p a i n t i n g “ L e s D e r n i è r e s C a r-
It was entered by joint patrols of the touches” (“The Last Cartridges”) is laid
French and the 42d Division during the in this building, which in 1870 was an
night of November 8–9. This was the inn called, of course, by a different name.
farthest north that any American unit ac- By bearing right at road junction at this
tively operated during this offensive. point a large ossuary of the War of 1870
(41.5 m 66.8 km) Cross Meuse River. will be found on the right a few hundred
Sedan has a prominent place in French yards farther on. Amount of time required
h i s t o r y. H e r e , i n 1 8 7 0 , N a p o l e o n I I I for side trip–20 minutes.
and the Ar my of Marshal MacMahon (44.5 m 71.6 km) In Bazeilles, turn to
surrendered to the Prussians. It contains the left, keeping on the main road.
an old château-for t, built about 1430, (46.8 m 75.3 km) While approaching
during the time of Joan of Arc, which is next town, Douzy, to the right of the road
an impressive example of the massive is seen again the railroad which the First
feudal construction of that period. Ar my had as its objective. Its impor-
(42.4 m 68.2 km) Where the street ends tance lay in the fact that the railroads
at a monument, turn to the right. which served the German forces on the
(42.9 m 69.0 km) Pass through Balan. Western Front were so located that with-
(43.9 m 10.6 km) Beyond town, to the out the use of this double-tracked road
right across the Meuse River valley, can Germany could not supply and maintain
be seen the town of Pont-Maugis, Noyers its armies in northern France and Belgium.
on the hill above it, and the heights be- (47.7 m 76.8 km) In center of town,
yond and to the right of that place which turn sharp right and cross over the Chiers
mere captured on November 7 by Ameri- River, a tributary of the Meuse River.
can soldiers after determined f ighting. From here on the described route follows
(44.1 m 71.0 km) Just before entering the main highway to the city of Verdun.
Mouzon
The 2d Division made several attempts to cross the Meuse near this place before operations were halted by the Armistice
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 301

(47.9 m 77.1 km) To the right front


across the valley is seen the line of hills
on which the front line of the 77th Divi-
sion rested at the end of the war.
(49.2 m 79.2 km) After passing next
village, Mairy, to the right front across
the river is seen Villers-devant-Mouzon,
where, although under heavy f ire, a small
detachment of the 77th Division succeed-
ed in crossing the river on November 7.
It was forced to withdraw the following
day as the temporary bridge upon which
the detachment had crossed was destroyed
by enemy artillery f ire, thus preventing
reinforcements from joining it.
(50.4 m 81.1 km) The next village which
is seen to the left is Amblimont.
The American units on the other side
of the valley sent many patrols to this
side at night to f ind out the location and
strength of the hostile troops. One of
the most successful of these patrols, con-
sisting of an off icer and a non-commis-
sioned officer of the 77th Division, crossed
over near Villers-devant-Mouzon on a raft
Engineers Building a Bridge Across the Meuse
about midnight on November 8. It rec-
Near Pouilly After the Armistice
onnoitered Amblimont, reached Hill 345,
the high bare hill seen above that town,
and returned with valuable information valley, can be seen Villemontry, captured
concerning the enemy forces. by the 1st Division during November 6.
(52.3 m 84.2 km) At entrance to next (55.3 m 89.0 km) Beyond the large
town, Mouzon, bear left up the hill. woods where a good view of the country
Corporal L. M. M. Van Iersel, 2d Di- to the right is obtained, STOP.
vision, won the Congressional Medal of On the right side of the road are monu-
Honor for an outstanding exploit near ments erected by the V Corps and the
this town. When his division reached 2d Division shortly after the Armistice.
the river opposite here, Cor poral Van
Iersel volunteered to reconnoiter the
V Corps Marker, South of Mouzon
hostile positions on this side of it. While
attempting, in the face of intense ma-
chine-gun f ire, to crawl across on the tim-
bers of a ruined bridge at night he was
thrown into the river by a German trap.
In spite of the swift current he swam the
river, continued on his dangerous mission
regardless of the enemy f ire and obtained
information of the greatest value.
(53.7 m 86.4 km) Beyond Mouzon, to
the right in the valley are seen two farms
which were captured by the 2d Division
on the morning of November 11.
(54.2 m 87.2 km) While ascending high
hill, to the right on the far slopes of the
302 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama Looking South

Face the buildings, Farm St. Rémy, seen directly ahead, and, again curving
seen in the valley to the right rear. That abruptly, follows an irregular course, pass-
direction is approximately south. ing just to the right of the hill upon which
The town of Beaumont, through which the obser ver is standing. In the large
the tour recently passed, is 4 miles from bend thus formed, the 2d and 89th Divi-
here beyond the edge of the large wood, sions on the night of November 10 ac-
Bois des Flaviers, which is seen extending complished the diff icult military feat of
off from this point to the right front. crossing a river under hostile f ire.
The above sketch and the map on page During the night of November 7, in
804 will aid in making the following anticipation of a crossing by the Ameri-
description clearer. The map and sketch cans at Mouzon, the enemy burned oil on
have been so drawn that they are oriented the surface of the river for illumination and
with the tops of them pointing south, the swe p t t h e r e m a i n s o f t h e d e s t r oye d
direction which the observer is facing. b r i d g e by a n i n t e n s e c r o s s f i r e f r o m
About 3 miles away to the left front machine guns located on or near the river
t h e M e u s e R i v e r, f l ow i n g t h i s w ay, bank. Under cover of darkness during
changes its direction sharply. It runs on November 8 troops of the 2d Division
the far side of Pouilly, whose church is attempted to cross over the ruined bridge

Pouilly and Létanne Viewed From the South


The 89th Division crossed the Meuse near the left edge of this terrain on November 10, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 303

From Stop Near Moulins

there. Some of them were thrown into sion had advanced as far as Moulins, seen
the water by traps placed on the bridge to the left. Other units of the division were
by the Ger mans for that pur pose but at Farm St. Rémy, and still others had
others continued on until they reached advanced about halfway between this
a gap in the bridge, too wide to be passed point and the town of Mouzon, captur-
without fur ther preparation, at which ing the two farms recently pointed out.
place the attempt had to be abandoned. An effort of the 89th Division to con-
On November 10 a second effor t to struct footbridges across the river beyond
make a surprise crossing, this time by Pouilly met with failure because of heavy
means of footbridges constructed near hostile artillery f ire. The division, how-
Mouzon, was defeated as the enemy dis- ever, crossed to the right of that town as
covered the point at which the crossing seen from here, on large rafts holding
was to be attempted and smothered it 75 men each which had been built on a
with shell and machine-gun f ire. That tributary stream and floated down to the
s a m e n i g h t , h oweve r, a c r o s s i n g wa s main river. It captured Pouilly before
forced, after heavy losses, on the far side daylight on November 11. Continuing
of the Bois des Flaviers, and by the time its advance, it crossed this highway about
of the Armistice troops of the 2d Divi- 2 miles from here, just beyond where the

Flooded Meuse River Near Stenay,


November 11, 1918
304 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

highway, identif ied by the line of trees, ous missions, Private Barkeley while
can be seen to the left front disappearing returning to the American lines with the
over the hill which is to the right of and desired information which he had ob-
beyond the village of Moulins. tained, was drowned. The others suc-
D u r i n g t h e o p e r a t i o n s n e a r Po u i l ly, ceded after the g reatest diff iculty in
S e r g e a n t M . Wa l d o H a t l e r, P r iv a t e securing and taking back valuable in-
First Class Harold I. Johnston and formation concerning the enemy forces.
Private David B. Barkeley, all of the Fo r t h e s e d a r i n g a c t s t h e t h r e e we r e
8 9 t h D iv i s i o n , v o l u n t e e r e d t o m a k e awarded Congressional Medals of Honor.
reconnaissances of the hostile position
EN ROUTE NEAR MOULINS TO SOUTH
on this bank of the river, although there
OF DUN-SUR-MEUSE
were no means of crossing except by
swimming. In carrying out their danger- (56.3 m 90.6 km) Continue through
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 305

the village of Moulins, which was in pos- tered. Early on November 10 units of
session of troops of the 2d Division when the 90th Division captured the far (south)
the Armistice became effective. side of this town but were not in suff icient
(57.0 m 91.7 km) Beyond town, while strength to drive the Germans out of the
ascending hill, to the right in the valley rest of it. The remainder of the town
is seen Autreville. That village and the was captured on November 11, before
high hill to the right of it were captured the Armistice became effective, by troops
by the 89th Division about 8:00 o’clock of the 89th and 90th Divisions.
on the morning of November 11. (64.3 m 103.5 km) Beyond town, the
(57.4 m 92.4 km) Before reaching top military barracks seen to the left of the
of hill, to the right in the valley in the road were captured by the 90th Division.
distance can be seen on a clear day the They were comparatively little damaged
village of Beaumont, the f ighting near and were used by the Americans after the
which was recently described on the tour. Armistice. The facilities for bathing, as
(57.7 m 92.9 km) Beyond hill, the f irst well as the shelter from the cold, rainy
wood growing to left edge of road is the weather were very welcome to the men
Bois de Hâche, where the leading elements who had undergone the hardships of a
of the 89th Division continued f ighting November campaign in this region.
for a short time after 11:00 a. m., Novem- (64.5 m 103.8 km) Beyond barracks, to
ber 11, not having previously received the left of the road is seen the large wood,
word concerning the Armistice. Bois de Chénois, in which the 90th
Continue through Inor, Martincourt Division had a severe struggle on Novem-
and Cervisy. The Armistice line of the ber 10. The Division was f ighting at
89th Division was along the other bank the village of Baâlon, 2 miles away to the
of the Meuse River opposite these towns. left, at the time of the Armistice.
(63.7 m 102.5 km) Continue through The far side of the valley opposite here
Stenay, where the zone of action of the was reached by the 90th Division on
90th Division and the III Cor ps is en- November 6. The division immediately
89th Division Infantry in Stenay Two Minutes Before the
Armistice Took Effect
Airplane Photograph of Dun-sur-Meuse Taken From the South
began assembling bridge material pre-
paratory to a crossing and from time to
time sent patrols over the river to obtain
information. The crossing of the river
by the division was f inally carried out on
November 9 farther up the valley.
(65.9 m 106.1 km) Straight through
Mouzay, captured about 1:45 p. m. on
November 9 by the 5th Division.
(68.4 m 110.1 km) After passing first
pronounced left bend in road (about 2
miles farther on), to the right front at
foot of hill across the river is seen Sassey-
s u r- M e u s e . I t wa s n e a r t h e r e t h a t a
large part of the 90th Division on Novem-
ber 9 crossed the river by means of a foot- Second Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr., Air Service,
bridge which had been constructed across September 19, 1918
the demolished stone bridge.
During the afternoon of November 7 ing and sur rounded on all sides by the
f ive American ambulances lost their way, enemy, who called upon him to surrender,
entered the German lines near here and he drew his automatic pistol and defended
were captured. Obser ving their plight, himself until he fell dead from a wound in
a patrol of the 90th Division, which was the chest. For his conspicuous gallantry
near the river to the right of this road, in the performance of his last flight Lieu-
attacked and recaptured the ambulances. tenant Luke was posthumously awarded
They were then sent to the rear loaded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
with German prisoners taken near there. In the next town, Dun-sur-Meuse, the
(68.6 m 110.4 km) To the left is seen veterans of the 5th Division have erected a
the long, sparsely wooded ridge, Côte St. wrought-iron railing on a bridge to com-
Germain, captured by the 5th Division memorate the crossing of the Meuse River
on November 6 and 7, after severe f ight- by their division. To visit, in center of
ing. The village on this side of it, Lion- town stop at village monument passed on
d eva n t - D u n , wa s a t t a c ke d o n t h e 6 t h the right. The bridge adjoins the monu-
but not taken until the next day. ment.
On the other side of Côte St. Germain (72.0 m 115.9 km) Continue through
is Mur vaux near where Second Lieu- Dun-sur-Meuse, captured after a hard
tenant Frank Luke, Jr., Air Service, on f ight by the 5th Division on November 5.
September 29, performed his last heroic The Headquarters of the 6th Division
deed. After having previously destroyed was located here, during the period No-
a number of enemy aircraft, he voluntarily vember 7–10, and the Headquarters of the
started on a patrol seeking German obser- I I I C o r p s , d u r i n g N ove m b e r 1 0 – 1 1 .
vation balloons. Though pursued by eight Engineers Relaxing in Ruined House After
German planes which were protecting the Working Under Fire, Dun-sur-Meuse
enemy balloon line, he attacked and shot
down in flames three German balloons.
In this engagement Lieutenant Luke was
exposed to heavy f ire from ground bat-
teries as well as hostile planes. Severely
wounded, he descended to within 50 yards
of the ground, and flying at this low alti-
tude near the town of Murvaux he f ired
upon enemy troops, killing six and wound-
ing as many more. Forced to make a land-

(307)
308 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Panorama From Stop


(73.7 m 118.6 km) Beyond town, from vember 1, it pivoted near Brieulles, seen
point where canal turns away from road, to the left up the valley, and swung to-
continue halfway up hill and STOP. ward Doulcon. By November 3 it had
A 5th Division marker monument is reached the other bank of the river as far
seen (1937) alongside the road. as this point, cleared the rim of the
Face to the right, which is west. Note “Punch Bowl” and captured Doulcon.
that both the above panorama and the A crossing of the Meuse River valley
sketch on page 310 are oriented when the up- was attempted about 1:00 a. m. on No-
per part is held in the direction being faced. vember 3 just this side of Brieulles. The
The Meuse-Argonne American Cem- river was crossed there before daylight but
etery, where the tour started, is about 5 attempts to bridge the canal failed with
miles away. It is beyond the large wood, heavy losses, a number of men being
Bois de Forêt, which is seen to the left forced to seek shelter on the exposed flats
front on the other side of the river. between the river and canal all during the
To the left in the distance is seen the next day. That night desperate efforts to
American monument on Montfaucon. mm the canal, on two footbridges which
Dun-sur-Meuse is plainly visible on the the division engineers had been able to
bill to the right. To the left of Dun-sur- construct over it, were repulsed.
Meuse, about a mile away from the river, After dark on November 4 an infantry
is seen Doulcon. The ridge beyond that force rushed across the footbridges and
town surrounds it on three sides and the gained a foothold on this bank. While the
dish-shaped valley thus formed was called enemy’s attention was engaged with this
the “Punch Bowl” by American soldiers. operation, another force farther up the
When the 5th Division attacked on No- valley came over in boats. After these

Ponton Bridge Constructed by 5th Division Engineers Near Dun-sur-Meuse


AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 309

South of Dun-sur-Meuse
surprise attacks, the enemy was driven jected to severe enf ilade f ire from Côte
back far enough to enable a large part of de Jumont, the hill seen down the road
the division to cross during the night, to the right. To relieve the situation,
Early on the 5th some of those troops at- Captain Edward C. Allworth, 5th Divi-
tacked toward this point over the low sion, called upon the remainder of his
ridge seen to the left down the road. company to follow him, plunged into
A determined though unsuccessful at- the canal, swam over under a hail of
tempt to construct two ponton bridges bullets and joined his hard pressed units
across the river about halfway between near here. He then led his men in a
here and Dun was made about 4:00 p.m. vigorous assault against the ridge behind
on November 4. The enemy discovered here, about the same time that it was
the bridges before they were f inished and being attacked by the troops who had
destroyed them by shellf ire. crossed near Brieulles. The ridge was
That night the river was bridged where captured after a hard f ight and many
it runs close to the hill on the other side p r i s o n e r s we r e t a ke n . Fo r h i s d a r i n g
of the valley, and the canal was bridged act, Captain Allworth was awarded the
near here. At dawn, when the enemy Congressional Medal of Honor.
discovered the operation and opened f ire Other troops of the division who crossed
damaging the bridges, part of a company at this point pushed down the river and
was on this bank and a large force was took Dun. By dark of November 5 the
on the swampy ground between the river G e r m a n s h a d b e e n d r ive n b a c k m o r e
and canal. The men on this bank found than a mile to the rear of here.
themselves in a diff icult position as they It was during the crossing in front of
had no means of retreat and were sub- here that Sergeant Eugene P. Walker,

Division Ration Dump Near Montfaucon, October 5, 1918


310 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

C o r p o r a l R o b e r t E . C r aw f o r d a n d from the river, onto the Woëvre Plain.


Privates Noah L. Gump, John Hoggle During the last days of the war, the 32d
and Stanley T. Murnane, all members of Division went into the line south of the
the 7th Engineers, 5th Division, won 5th Division and advanced rapidly with it.
Distinguished Ser vice Crosses. When
EN ROUTE SOUTH OF DUN-SUR MEUSE
three boats in a ponton bridge across
TO SOUTH OF SIVRY-SUR-MEUSE
t h e r ive r we r e d e s t r oye d by a r t i l l e r y
f ire, these men voluntarily entered the (74.4 m 119.7 km) Continue through
icy river and, standing in water up to the village of Liny-devant-Dun.
t h e i r a r m p i t s a n d u n d e r h e av y s h e l l - (75.0 m 120.7 km) Beyond town, the
f ire, held up the deck until new boats large wood which extends along the road
were launched and placed in position. on the right for a considerable distance
T h i s t i m e ly a n d c o u r a g e o u s a c t per- is the Bois de Châtillon. It was cap-
mitted the crossing of the infantry units. tured by the 5th Division on November
The 5th Division continued to advance 5, the front line of the division on that
in the direction to the right rear from night resting along this edge of it.
here during the following days. It was (76.4 m 123.0 km) Beyond wood, at
a s s i s t e d by o n e r e g i m e n t o f t h e 3 2 d first crest, to the right at foot of hill is
Division from November 6th to the 9th; seen Vilosnes-sur-Meuse. The 5th Divi-
and by the time of the Ar mistice had sion aided the French 15th Colonial Divi-
pushed the enemy back about 10 miles sion to cross the river there on November 6
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 311

by attacking in rear, from this hill, the f ighting an advance exceeding 6 miles
Germans who were defending the village. was made by the American assault units.
(76.6 m 123.3 km) While descending On October 4 the general attack was
hill, the ridge seen to the right front is on renewed and continued almost without
the other side of the Meuse. It was taken pause until October 22, by which time the
by the 80th Division on September 26 and Hindenburg Line had been car ried on
from then on to November 6 the opposing most of the First Army front beyond the
lines faced each other across this valley. river. This period was characterized by
(78.7 m 126.7 km) Continue through almost daily attacks and terrif ic f ighting
the town of Sivry-sur-Meuse. during which the German reserves were
(79.3 m 127.6 km) Beyond far edge of used up. It included a flank attack
town, about 80 yards, STOP. against the Argonne Forest on October 7,
The monument on Montfaucon can be an advance on this side of the Meuse
seen on the sky line to the right front. River on October 8, and a general assault
Face to the left, which direction is east. against the Hindenburg Line on the other
The 79th Division on October 30 took side of the river on October 14.
over a portion of the front line, about 2 From October 23 to the end of that
miles away, which ran in the direction the month only local attacks were made as
reader is facing. It attacked, from the the Army prepared for an offensive on
reader' s right to left, daily on November November 1 that proved to be its last
3, 4 and 5, by which time, after severe one. The results of this offensive ex-
f ighting, a line near the crest of the bald- ceeded all expectations and a complete
topped hill seen to the left front had been break-through of the last prepared Ger-
reached. That hill, designated on French man position occurred. As the Germans
maps as the Borne de Cornouiller, was did not have suff icient reserves to stop
nicknamed “Cornwilly Hill” by the Ameri- such a strong attack, they started a with-
can soldiers who fought on this front. drawal to this side of the Meuse River.
On November 7 the division took the T h e Fi r s t A r my t h e n c o n d u c t e d a n
remainder of the hill, its direction of ad- energetic pursuit. It brilliantly forced
vance then changing to the direction crossings of the river at several places, and
which the reader is now facing. exerted terrif ic and continuous pressure
The 26th Division on November 8 ad- until the Armistice became effective.
vanced alongside the 79th Division on The twelve American divisions that
its right and at the time of the Armistice participated in the f ighting between No-
both divisions were on a line about 8 ve m b e r 1 a n d N ove m b e r 1 1 s u ff e r e d
miles from here, beyond Theinte Creek. more than 18,000 casualties. The total
On the right of the 26th Division were American losses during the entire Meuse-
the French 10th Colonial Division and Argonne offensive were close to 117,000.
the American 81st Division. The latter
5th Division Troops on the Armistice Line
division advanced about 3 miles in the
Near Rémoiville
period between November 9 and 11.
Face down the road, which direction is
approximately south.
As this is the last stop of the tour, a
brief résumé here will aid in f ixing in the
reader’s mind the events which took place
in this region during the fall of 1918.
On September 26 a smashing surprise
attack by the First Army, between the
Meuse River and the Argonne Forest,
overran the strong German forward posi-
tions and captured the heights to the right
across the valley. In four days of bitter
312 AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION

Vacherauville, October 31, 1918

EN ROUTE SOUTH OF SIVRY-SUR-MEUSE (84.9 m 136.8 km) The next village,


TO VERDUN Samogneur, was just within the front
(79.9 m 128.6 km) At next crest, run- line of the American Army on September
ning at right angles to this road, was 26. The town was entirely obliterated
l o c a t e d t h e Fi r s t A r my f r o n t l i n e o f during the severe f ighting on this front.
November 1. No attack, however, was (86.6 m 139.4 km) Beyond town, the
made on this side of the river that day. road climbs a steep hill called the Côte
(80.6 m 129.7 km) To the left, crown- de Talou. It was captured by the Ger-
ing the ridge, is the Bois de Chaume cap- mans in hard f ighting during 1916 and
tured by the 33d Division on October 10. recaptured by the French in 1917.
(81.6 m 131.3 km) The next village, (87.9 m 141.5 km) Continue through
Consenvoye , was captured by the 33d Vacherauville, which town was completely
Division during the general attack of destroyed by shellf ire during the war.
October 8 on this side of the river. The (88.5 m 142.4 km) Beyond the town,
division advanced in the direction oppo- after passing the first bend in the road,
site to the one the tourist is traveling. to the left front the Ossuary of Douau-
(82.3 m 132.4 km) Beyond the town, to mont with its tower can be seen.
the left alongside the road is a German The road leading east from the next
World War military cemetery. village, Bras, is the one generally followed
(82.5 m 132.8 km) To the right front is by tourists who visit the French battlefields
seen Forges, which was just in front of near Verdun. A suggested route for this
the jump-off line of the American Army trip is shown in a broken black line on the
in its f irst great attack in this region on map at the end of the chapter. This makes
September 26. Le Mort Homme hill is an interesting side trip and can be com-
seen on the sky line beyond it. pleted in approximately 11 /2 hours if no long
(83.1 m 133.7 km) Continue through stops at interesting points are made.
next village, Brabant-sur-Meuse. (89.1 m 143.4 km) Just beyond Bras,
(83.2 m 133.9 km) From first bend in which also was completely destroyed,
road and for about a mile farther on, the to the right of the road is a large French
29th Division used this road to form on World War military cemetery.
for the attack of October 8. It advanced (92.9 m 149.5 km) Continue to Verdun.
up the slopes to the left. During the The mileage ends at the railroad station.
next few days it was opposed by Austrian A few points of interest in Verdun have
troops, of which only three divisions been indicated on page 272 which is the
ever served in line on the Western Front. concluding page of the first day’s itinerary.
ADDITIONAL PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE
MEUSE-ARGONNE REGION

I N addition to the places whose World


War history has been described in the
itinerar y, there are a number of other
to the flank beyond supporting troops,
suddenly came under f ire from enemy
m a c h i n e g u n s o n l y 5 0 y a r d s aw ay.
p l a c e s i n t h e M e u s e - A rg o n n e r eg i o n Shouting to the members of his party to
where interesting war events occur red, take cover, Colonel Smith disregarding
where there now exist features of special his own danger opened pistol f ire on the
interest, or which were of suff icient im- Germans. About this time he fell,
portance in history before the World War severely wounded, but regaining his foot-
to warrant special mention. For reference ing he continued to f ire on the enemy
purposes and for the benef it of the tourist until most of the men of his party were
who travels in the area not on the de- out of danger. Refusing f irst-aid treat-
scribed route, these places and some of ment, he made his way to a hand-grenade
their history have hem recorded here. dump and returned under heavy machine-
The map on the next page indicates gun f ire for the purpose of making another
the general location of roost of the places attack on the enemy machine guns. As
mentioned. At those indicated both in he was attempting to determine the exact
the text and on the sketch by a star there location of the nearest nest, he fell mor-
is some existing interesting object such as tally wounded. This gallant and brave
a memorial, ancient building or ruins or soldier was later posthumously awarded
outstanding World War feature which is the Congressional Medal of Honor.
still in a good state of preservation. In this same par t of the Argonne
Argonne Forest. While the 77th Divi- Fo r e s t , S e rg e a n t B e n j a m i n K a u f m a n ,
sion was engaged in heavy f ighting about 77th Division, won the Congressional
1 1 / 2 miles southeast of Binarville on Sep- Medal of Honor on September 29. He
tember 29, Lieutenant Colonel Fred E. took out a patrol for the pur pose of
Smith of that division performed his last attacking an enemy machine gun which
heroic act. When communication with had checked the advance of his company.
the leading battalion of his regiment was Before reaching the gun he became sepa-
interrupted by the inf iltration of small rated from his patrol and a machine-gun
parties of the enemy, Lieutenant Colonel bullet shattered his right arm. Without
Smith personally led a party of two other hesitation he advanced on the gun alone,
off icers and ten soldiers forward to rees- throwing grenades with his left hand and
tablish runner posts and car ry ammuni- charging with an empty pistol, taking one
tion to the front line. The party, straying prisoner and scattering the crew. He then
View Near the Jump-Off Line of the 77th Division, September 26, 1918
AMERICAN OPERATIONS IN THE MEUSE–ARGONNE REGION 315

brought the machine gun and prisoner Barricourt. Strong resistance was en-
back to the f irst-aid station where he went countered in this village on November 2
to have his wounded arm treated. before it was captured early the next day
Slightly to the east of the scene of the by troops of the 89th Division.
above exploit, Private Archie A. Peck, Beauchamp Farm, 1 1 /2 miles southwest
77th Division, also won the Congressional of Cler mont-en-Argonne. Location of
Medal of Honor. While engaged with 92d Div. Hdqrs., September 24–30.
two other soldiers in patrol duty on Octo- Beauclair. Captured by the 89th Di-
ber 6, he and his comrade