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== BATTLE = 

(Sept. 26 - Nov. 11, 1918) 



Inf., U.S.A. 


Central Printing Plant. Q.M.C, 'J8-9-23-19-2 m. 


In this monograph the attempt is made to slvetcli in general lines the story of 
the Meuse-Argonne Battle, which was America's part in the decisive offensive of 
the war. It is manifestly impossible to give adequate space to every phase of 
that battle or the role played by every individual unit. Some of the important 
official reports on this operation have not yet been completed and, therefore, the 
information contained in this monograph is not to be considered as a historical 
document, but is for the confidential use of press correspondents and magazine 
writers as a basis for articles, but not to be reproduced in its entirety. 

The statistics quoted are based on official reports and are believed to be as 
nearly correct as they can be made at this time. 

March 24, 1919. 



A. — Facts and figures. — Stanislas regarding the battle, the number of troops 
engaged on both sides, casualties, etc. 

B. — The battle as an American army achievement. — The principal major operation 
of the A. E. F. comparing it with other operations in France 
beginning at Cantigny, then Belleau Wood and Chateau-Thierry 
and later St-Mihiel. 

C — The battlefield. — Its difficult geographical features ; its previous military 
history ; the reasons for its importance both to the enemy and to us. 

D. — The battle from the enemy's side. — Its importance to them and their preparat- 
ions to meet our attack ; the number of divisions used by them 
and their quality ; the status of enemy reserves at the beginning 
and during the battle ; a review of enemy orders and documents. 

E. — The battle (First Phase, Sept. 26 - Oct. 4). — The initial attack and its develop- 
mefit in the face of steadily increasing resistance ; the difficult 
nature of the fighting. 

F. — The battle (Second Phase, Oct. 4 - Nov. 1). — The pinching out of the Argonne 
Forest salient ; the breaking of the Kriemhilde Stellung ; small 
but important advances as the result of terrific fighting. 

G, — The battle (Third Phase, Nov. 1 - Nov. 11). — The break-through; the crumbl- 
ing of the German defense and the pursuit of the beaten enemy's 

H. — Operations east of the Meuse. — The attack by the 17th French Corps as a 
corollary to the general attack West of the Meuse ; its development 
in successive phases. 


Duralion nf tho liattl 
Forces -engag^ed 

Divisiiins engaged. 

.Maxiiinuii peneti'atioii of the enemy's 
lines '. 

Territory liberated for France 

Villages and towns liberated 

Total number of guns which b-egan the 

Artillery ammunition fired 

Ammunition fired (Artillery) greatest rate 

per day 

Total artillery ammunition fired 

Prisoners captured 

^Material captured 

Total prisoners captured in the A. E. F. 
Total material captured 

i7 days. 

(Americans 631,405) 

(French 138,000) (Germans). 

(Total 769,405) (607,212). 

Americans 22. 
French 4. 
Germans 46. 

54 kilometers. 

1,550 Square kilometers. 



89,404 (plus) rounds per day ave- 

313,087 rounds. (Sept. 26th). 

4,202,006 rounds. 

316 officers, 15,743 men. 

468 guns, 2,864 machine guns, 

177 trench mortars. 

637 officers, 42,650 men. 

1,421 guns, 6,550 machine guns, 

503 trench mortars. 

Capture of prisoners and material as reported by some divisions: 

1st Div.... 1,461 Pris. ; 14 guns. 5th Div.... 1,282 Pris. 

4th Div.... 2,731 Pris. ; 44 guns. 28th Div.... 445 Pris. 

29th Div.... 2,300 Pris. ; 16 guns. 32nd Div.... 1,095 Pris. 

80th Div..... 1,713 Pris. ; 86 guns. 

36 guns. 

10 guns. 

3 guns. 

Casualties. (Americans) 





Shell Shocked 







(French) Estimated Total 

(Total) (American side) 

(German side) Estimated 

(including 16,000 prisoners 





Total casualties in the A. E. F. to November 18, 1918 Killed, 53,169 ; 

Wounded, 179,625 ; Missing, 11,660 ; Prisoners, 2,163. Total: 246,657. 


First Army 

Commander-in-Chief, Gen. John J. Pershing. 

Lt. Gen. Hunter Liggett. 

First Corps. 

Maj. Gen. Hunter Liggett. 
Maj. Gen. Jo&eph E. Dickman. 

Third Corps. 

Maj. Gen. Robt. L. Bullard. 
Maj. Gen. .John L. Hines. 

Fifth Corps. 

Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron. 
Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall. 

17th French Corps. 
General Claudel. 

Division Comm.4nders 

1st Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall. 
Brig. Gen. F. E. Bamford. 
Brig. Gen. Frank Parker. 

:2nd Maj. Gen. John A. Le Jeune. 
8rd Maj. Gen. Beaumont B. Buck. 

4th Maj. Gen. John L. Hines. 
Maj. Gen. Ma.rk L. Hersey. 

5th Maj. Gen. John E. McMahon. 
Maj. Gen. Hanson E. Ely. 

26th Maj. Gen. Clarence E. Edwards. 
Brig. Gen. F. E. Bamford. 

28th Maj. Gen. Charles H. Muir. 
2yth Maj. Gen. Charles G. Morten. 
32nd Maj. Gen. W. G. Haan. 
33rd Maj. Gen. George Bell, Jr. 
35th Maj. Gen. Peter E. Traub. 
37th Maj. Gen. C. S. Farnsworth. 
42nd Maj. Gen. Charles T. Menoher. 
77th Maj. Gen. Robert Alexander. 
78th Maj. Gen. James H. McRae. 
79th Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Kuhn. 
80th Maj. Gen. A. Cronkhite. 
81st Maj. Gen. C. J. Bailey. 
82nd Maj. Gen. George B. Duncan 
89th Maj. Gen. William M. Wright. 
90th Maj. Gen. Henry T. Allen. 
91st Maj. Gen. William H. Johnston. 

The following American divisions were engaged In the Meuse-Argonne Battle: 

Regular Army 






18, 26, 28 

5, 6, 7. 



23 Inf. 5 & 6 Marines 

12, 15, 17. 



7, 30, 38 

10, 18, 76. 



47, 58, 59 

13, 16, 77. 



11, 60, 61 
National Gu 


19, 20, 21. 

26th, New England 


102, 103, 104 

101, 102, 103. 

28th, Pennsylvania 


110, 111, 112 

107, 108, 109. 

29th, Maryland & Va . 


114, 115, 116 

110, 111, 112. 

32nd, Wis. and Mich. 


126, 127, 128 

119, 120, 121 

(113-11 i-ll'j) 

33rd, Illinois 


130, 131, 132 

(104, 105, 106). 

35th, Kansas - Mo. 


138, 139, 140 

128, 129, 130. 

37th, Ohio. 


146, 147, 148 

122, 123, 124. 

4-2nd, Rainbow 


166, 167, 168 

149, 150, 151. 

National Army 

77th, New York Citv 


306, 307, 308 

304, 305, 306. 

78th, N. Y., N. J., Pa. 


310, 311, 312 

307, 308, 309. 

79th, Va., Marvland 


314, 315, 316 

(325, 326, 327). 

80th, Pa., W. Va. -Va. 


318, 319, 320 

313, 314, 315. 

81st, Tenn-Carolinas 


322, 323, 324 

(128, 129, 130). 

82nd, Georgia-Ala. 


326, 327, 328 

319, 320, 321. 

89th, Kansas - Mo. 


354, 355, 356 

340, 341, 342. 

90th, Texas-Okla. 


358, 359, 360 

(313, 314, 315). 

91st, Pacific Coast 


362, 363, 364 

(113, 114, 11.5) 

First Army 

ist Corps. Fi 

<ffh Corps. 

Third Cot 

ntli French 
'P^'- Corps. 





77, 28, 35 

91, 37, 79 



33 29, 

18F, 26F 

78, 82, 1 42-32, 32, 80 




26, 26 

77, 80 

3, 5 


15, F. 

C. 33, 

.. 1 2-89, . 





Special Artillery used 

The special artillery employed in the Meuse-Argonne Battle, exclusive of artill- 
ery -employed as divisional artillery, was as follows: 

American Artillery 

134th Field Artillery 75. 

135th Field Artillery 75. 

— 9 — 

136th Field Artillery 155 How. 

147th Field Artillery 155. 

34.7th Field Artillery 4.7. 

348th Field Artillery 155 G. P. F. 

44th Regt. C. A. C 8-inch How. 

43rd Regt. C. A. C 190. 

51st Regt. C. A. C 240-270. 

53rd Regt. C. A. C 340-400-81 M. 

55th Regt. C. A. C 155 G. P. F. 

56th Regt. C. A. C 155 G. P. F. 

57th Regt. C. A. C 155 G. P. F. 

59th Regt. C. A. C 8-inch How. 

60th Regt. C. A. C 155 G. P. F. 

65th Regt. C. A. C 9.2 How. 

Naval Battalion 14-inch. 

52nd Regt. C. A. C 81 M. 

French Artillery 

219th Regiment 75. 

238th Regiment 75. 

247th Regiment -. 75. 

117th Regiment 105. 

183rd Regiment 105. 

451st Regiment 105. 

454th Regiment 105. 

456th Regiment 105. 

6th Foot Artillery 90 to 155. 

5th R. A. P 95-120-155. 

1st R. A. P 120-155. 

151st R. A. P 120-L. 

86th R. A. D 145-155. 

81st R. A. L 145-155. 

87th R. A. D 145-155. 

113th Regt 155 Short. 

142nd Regt 155 Short. 

301st Regt 155 Short. 

317th Regt 155 Short. 

330th Regt 155 Short. 

407th Regt 155. 

416th Regt 155 Long. 

413th Regt 155. 

420th Regt 155 Long. 

182nd Foot Artillery 120-155-220. 

308th Regt 155-220 T. R. 

289th Regt 155-200 M. 

282nd Regt 220 T. R. -270-280. 

71st Regt 240. 

73rd Regt 270-293. 

74th Regt 190. 

75th Regt 305. 

76th Regt. 305. 

77th Regt 340. 

78th Regt 370-84 M. 

Naval Batteries: 6th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 18th 16 M. 

- 10 -- 


The reports of the Statistical Section, G. H. Q. on the strength of the American 
Divisions is made up weekly so that the nearest estimate obtainable of the units 
which took part in the Meuse-Argonne Battle is that for the week September 26 to 
October 2. These estimates show the following figures for the nine divisions which 
opened the attack on the morning of September 26th: 

77th Division 25,677 

28th Division 23,312 

35th Division 19,849 

91st Division 20,794 

37th Division (Artillery detached) 18,222 

79th Division (No Art., eng. or tr.) 14,322 

4th Division 21,511 

80th Division 25,112 

33rd Division 24,530 

Total 193,329 

Other Divisions (September 26 - October 2). 

1st Division 26,524 

2nd Division (As of Oct. 9) 25,070 

3rd Division 27,532 

5th Division (Artillery detached) 30,539 

26th Division 25,719 

29th Division (Artillery detached) 18,931 

32nd Division " " 20,175 

35th Division 19,849 

42nd Division 27,221 

78th Division (Art., Amm. Tr. det.).. 16,756 

82nd Division 25,518 

89th Division 24,798 

90th Division 24,691 

Total .- 313,323 

French Divisions. 

15th Colonifv! Division (Estimated) 9,000 

18th Division " 9,000 

26th Division " 9,000 

10th Colonial Division " 9,000 

Total 36,000 

Grasp Total 542,652 

These figures only deal with divisions engaged and take no account of Army 
or Corps Artillery or any other services. The total of American forces engaged, 
as reported by the First Army to the Adjutant General, is 631,405 officers and men. 
The French troops engaged ore estimated at 138,000 making a grand total on the 
American side of 769,405. 

— 11 — 


In endeavoring to arrive at some accurate estimate of the casualties on the 
American side in the Meuse-Argonne Battle one must consider the length of time 
each division was engaged in that battle so that casualties which were the results 
of previous or later engagements shall not be counted in the total. In addition to 
this only estimates can be made at present for the French units engaged. The 
following figures, for American divisions only, are approximate only although 
taken after a careful study of the statistical reports week by week: 

Div. Killed Wounded and Missing Totals. 





1 68.1 


Total killed: 11,007 ; Total wounded: 80,269. 

(X) The Fifth Division's report only gives total casualties, officers and men, 
so the principle of 1 to 4 has been applied. 

Total casualties among the American forces engaged in the Meuse-Argonne 
Battle as given by the Chief Surgeon are 115,529. Adding to this the French esti- 
mated total of 7,000 we arrive at the figure of 122,529 as total casualties on the 
American side. 


The intelligence Section reports that in the period from September 2Din to 
November 11th, 46 enemy divisions were engaged against the American Army. 
The normal strength of a German division September 26th was between 10,000 and 
11,000 but a study of company strength leads to the conclusion that the average 
strength was about 9,000 and during the battle was reduced about 2,750, or if 
maintained by replacements suffered about 2,750 casualties. Thus in the 46 divi- 
sions there were approximately 414,000 men. The total of other troops engaged 
such as independent field artillery, heavy artillery (both with ammunition trains), 
machine-gun detachments, pioneer companies, etc., which are not a part of the 
divisional organization, is estimated at 42 % of the total divisional troops 
Estimates based on these conditions, and others made on our present knowledge 
of the strength and organization of the whole German Army in November, 1918, 





























































5th (X) 


















































— 12 - 

all indicate that the strength against the Americans was 607,212. The German 

divisions engaged and estimated casualties for the whole duration of the battle, 
including 16,000 prisoners, follow: 

1st Guard Div 5000 

3rd Guard Div 5W 

5th Guard Div 1800 

13th Division 1500 

15th Division 1000 

27th Division 500 

28th Division 3000 

31st Division 1000 

32nd Division 5000 

33rd Division •■••■ 500 

37th Division 3500 

41st Division 4500 

52nd Division 4000 

88th Division 1500 

103rd Division 500 

107th Division 3000 

115th Division 5000 

117th Division 5200 

123rd Division 5000 

192Tid Division 1500 

195th Division 500 

228th Division 1200 

236th Division 5000 

240th Division 500 

15th Bavarian Division 2000 

5th Bavarian Reserve Division 2500 

7th Reserve Division 5000 

45th Reserve Division 2300 

53rd Reserve Division 1500 

76th Reserve Division 6000 

1st Landwehr Division 1000 

2nd Landwehr Division 5000 

1st Austro-Hungarian Division 6000 

106th Austro-Hungarian Division 1000 

Total 93500 or an 

average loss of 2750 per division. 

Assuming that the divisions concerning the actual casualties of which ade- 
quate data is lacking suffered as heavily as those already considered, the following 
divisions lost 2750 men each: 

10th Division 

20th Division 

42nd Division 

202nd Division 

203rd Division 

241st Division 

3rd Bavarian Division 

14th Reserve Division 

28th Reserve Division 

7.5th Reserve Division 

8th Landwehr Division 

9th Landwehr Division 33000 

Total casualties. , 126500 



Of the total number of German and Austro-Hungarian divisions engaged on 
the Front of the First Army, from La Harazee to Fresnes en Woevre, or 4G, 
13 were used twice and 2 three times. The complete list follows: 

* 1st Guard Division. 
3rd Guard Division. 

"'• 5th Guard Division. 

10th Division. 

* 13th Division. 
15th Division. 
20th Division. 

* 27th Division. 

* 28th Division. 
31st Division. 

** 32nd Division. 
33rd Division. 

* 37th Division. 

* 41st Division. 
42nd Division. 

* 52nd Division. 
88th Division. 

103rd Division. 

107th Division. 

""""■ 115th Division. 

* 117th Division. 
123rd Division. 
192nd Division. 

* 195th Division. 
202nd Division. 
203rd Division. 

* 228th Division. 

* 236th Division. 
240th Division. 
241st Division. 

3rd Bavarian Division. 
15th Bavarian Division. 
5th Bavarian Reserve Division. 

* 7th Reserve Division. 
14th Reserve Division. 
28th Reserve Division. 
45th Reserve Division. 
53rd Reserve Division. 
75th Reserve Division. 
76th Reserve Division. 

1st Landwehr Division. 
2nd Landwehr Division. 
8th Landwehr Division. 
9th Landwehr Division. 
1st Austro-Hungarian Division. 
106th Austro-Hungarian Division. 

* Denotes divisions in line more than once. 

— 14 — 

The American divisions used on the front of the First Army numbered 22 
and the French divisions 4. Nine divisions were in the line twice and one three 
times. The list follows: 

* 1st Division. - 

2nd Division.- (Also engaged in Champagne). 
3rd Division. - 
4th Division. - 

* 5th Division.- 
26th Division.- 
28th Division. - 
29th Division. - 

* 32nd Division.- (1). 
33rd Division.- 

* 35th Division. - 

37th Division.- (also engaged in Belgi'un). 

* 42nd Division. - 

* 77th Division. - 
78th Division. - 

* 79th Division. - 
** 80th Division. - 

81st Division. - 
82nd Division. - 
89th Division. - 

* 90th Division. - 

91st Division.- (also engaged in Belgium). 
36th Division (engaged in Champagne). 
10th French Colonial Division. - 

* 15th French Colonial Division. - 
I8th French Division. - 

26th French Division.- 

* Denotes divisions engaged more than once. 


The Air Service employed in the Meuse-Argonne Battle consisted of the First 
Pursuit Group, the First Pursuit Wing, the First Day Bombardment Group, th-e 
French Night Bombing Group, the First Army Observation Group, the Heavy 
Artillery Group and the Observation Groups of the First Corps, Third Corps, 
Fjlth Corps and 17th French Corps. There was in addition an Italian Night 
Bombing Group. On s.eptember 26th the aeroplanes available for service were 
distributed as follows: 

First Pursuit Group 82 

First Pursuit Wing 142 

French Night Bombers 27 

Firs': Army Observation Group 41 

Heavy Artillery Group , 54 

First Corps Observers 51 

Third Corps Observers ,......, 49 

Fifth Corps Observers 48 

17th French Corps Observers 14 

Total 508 

On November 11th, the day when the armistice was signed, the aeroplanes 
available were distributed as follows: 

— lo — 

First Pursuit Group 80 

First Pursuit Wing 104 

First Day Bombardment Group 71 

First Army Observation Group 56 

Heavy Artillery Group 45 

First Corps Observers 43 

Third Corps Observers 41 

Fifth Corps Observers • 35 

Total 475 

The First Day Bombardment Group joined the Army Air Forces on this front 
on October 16th with an available strength of 85 planes. It took the place of the 
French Night Bombers. 

The records of the Air Service during the battle are best set out as given in the 
official operations reports. These records follow: 

Our Planes Enemy Enemy Confirmation of 

Crashed or Planes Loss Victory 

Date :Missing. Downed. Confirmed. Requested. 

19 5 

26 3 

33 6 

7 ' 

8 3 

14 11 


7 1 























































































































— 1() - 






















Totals... 324 194 29 205 

Our Bombing Groups during the period from Sept. 2Gth to Nov. 11th dropped 
behind the enemy's lines a total of 94,448 kilograms of explosives. 


The casualties in the American Air Service which took part in the Meuse- 
Argonne Battle are reported in the period from August 20th to November 11th as 


1st Pursuit Group 28 11 19 

2nd Pursuit 10 1 30 

3rd Pursuit 9 9 24 

1st Corps Observation 21 25 17 

3rd Corps Observation 9 9 5 

5th Corps Observation 7 11 2 1 

1st Army Observation 7 12 16 

1st Day ^Bombardment 14 26 41 15 

Totals 105 104 154 IG 

The number of American planes shot down in this period is given in the Air 
Service reports as 199 ; number of our balloons shot down in the same period, 22. 

Confirmation of the destruction of enemy aircraft was requested in the fol- 
lowing cases, this report covering th-e period from August 10 to November 11: 


1st Pursuit Group 

2nd Pursuit 

3rd Pursuit • • 

1st Corps Observation 

3rd Corps Observation 

5th Corps Observation 

1st Army Observation 

1st Day Bombardment 

Totals 456 62 

,EMY airplanes 













— 17 — 


The following tank organizations were employed in the Meuse-Argo.nne 

American Tanks 

1st American Brigade {now 304f/i,) Light. 

344th Battalion 69 

345th Battalion. 73 

Total 142 

French Tanks 

bOUh Regiment Light. 

17th Group 13 

505th Regiment Light. 

14th Group 15 

St-Chamond Group Heavy 25 

Schneider Group Medium 20 

Total 73 

Out of 142 fighting tanks t-he Americans lost 22 totally destroyed. The French 
lost about 25. The American tank casualties in men were as follows: 

Officers: Killed 3 ; wounded 18. Total 21 

Men: Killed 16 ; " 126. " 142 

Grand Total 163 

The American tanks were used in the advance up the Aire Valley while the 
French were employed in the Bois de Montfaucon, at Montfaucon, Cunel, Septs- 
arges, Romagne, in the Bois de Cuisy and in the valley of the Andon River. 
These tanks fought with the following divisions: 79th, 37th, 4th, 80th, 32nd and 
3rd. The French tanks were in action from September 26th to October 14th mak- 
ing "their last attack on October 9th. The American tanks were used in several 
stages of the attack, making their last attack November 2nd. All the tanks had 
great difficulty in getting across No Man's Land for the launching of the offensive 
September 26th and the two days following. The French tanks had to cross the 
famous Hill 304 which was regarded as the worst terrain on the Western Front as 
it was covered with shell craters from the battle of Verdun in 1916. The tanks 
which were destroyed were direct hits. Officers of the Tank Corps report that the 
anti-tank rifle did very little damage. 


The Meuse-Argonne Battle will always stand out as the supreme achievement 
of the American Army in France. Other Operations, such as the assistance wb 
lent the French in stopping the Great German drive toward Paris and the suppress- 
ion of the St-Mihiel Salient, are no doubt more spectacular in the public eye but 
the part which the American Army played in the last great offensive of the war 
is that by which it will be judged in future years. 

There is a paragraph in the Infantry Drill Regulations to which the attention 
of all young officers is called. It reads about as follows: 

"The ultimate purpose of all military training is the' battle. This purposa 
should always be kept uppermost in mind and all efforts should b© 
directed to this end." 

— IS — 

Taking .this axiom in its larger sense we may apply it in this way the ultimate 
purpose of all training in the camps at home and in France, completed by the 
training in actual warfare which our troops received at Cantigny, at Chateau- 
Thierry and later at St-Mihiel was the battle lasting from September 26th to Nov- 
ember 11th in which we broke through the German lines, forced him to retreat 
behind the Meus<?, and with the aid of our Allies compelled him to demand an 
armistice. It was only on September 26th, when the First American Army took 
its place alongside the Armies of its Allies, that we were prepared for the supreme 
effort, to which every officer and soldier in the Am. E. F. had looked forward. 
For the first time in our history large units of foreign troops were operating under 
American conmiand. All operations that preceded the Meuse-Argonne Battle were 
preparatory and if they stand out by themselves it is only as an earnest of what 
the American Army as a whole could do. 

No such concentration of American troops had ever been seen before in our 
histoi'y while the character of the fighting was as bitter as any engaged in by the 
troops of our Allies throughout the entire war. Yet the young American Army, 
functioning normally for the first time in all its different branches, accomplished 
what six months before had seemed impossible. 

To view the Meuse-Argonne Battle in its proper light let us go back to the 
early days of the Toul sector and glance at the various stages of development from 
that day in the latter part of October 1917 when American troops first appeared 
in the line. These troops of the First Division, had been trained with the aid of 
French troops and when they reached the front line they were eager enough to 
show their fighting qualities. But each successive experience proved that there 
was much to be learned about modern warfare that could not be taught in a train- 
ing camp. 

The second stepping-stone in the development of the American Army was 
Cantigny, where the same troops, the First Division, first took part in an offensive 
action. The Commander-in-Chief thus describes that affair: 

"Although local, this brilliant action had an electrical effect, as it demon- 
strated our fighting qualities under extreme battle conditions, and also 
that the enemy's troops were not altogether invincible. "' 

By this successful stroke at Cantigny our Allies saw full proof that the Amer- 
ican Army was a mighty force "in the making. 

This proof was confirmed at Belleau Wood and at Chateau-Thierry on the 
Marne. It was confirmed with great emphasis because American troops (2nd and 
3rd Divisions) were thrown into the fight to block the German advance on Paris 
at a moment when the situation was most critical and when the French people 
looked to us for protection. That these divisions did stop the enemy and when 
the time came played a prominent part in driving him back to the Vesle gave our 
troops justified confidence in themselves and prepared them for what was to fol- 
low. The American soldier had arrived in the estimation of his French and British 
comrades but the American Army had yet to be tried out. 

Because of the brilliant work of the First Division at Cantigny and the Second 
at Belleau Wood and at Vaux these two units were given the place of honor tog- 
ether wath a French division as the spearhead of the great counteroffensive of July 
18th. In the fighting which followed several other American divisions won glory 
for themselves and their commanders. 

Our troops in the Chateau-Thierry sector operated under the command of the 
Sixth and Tenth French ArmJes. The First American Army, (which was to have 
taken over the sector at Fismes) was then forming at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. The 
plan then contem.plated was to make this army very small, containing about six 
divisions. However on this front it never functioned as an army because the 
Staff was transferred to Ligny-en-Barrois for the St-Mihiel operation. 

— 19 — ■ 

We now come to the St-Mihiel battle, which was the first operation of the 
American Army as a unit. The pinching off of this salient had long been looked 
forward to by our Commander-in-Chief as the first independent operation of our 
ti-oops. Its success would not only mean removal of the German threat against 
the Meuse line but it would threaten in turn the vast fortified area of Metz and 
the Briey iron mines which the enemy had taken great measures to defend. Since 
the French had made in 1915 several unsuccessful efforts to remove this "liei-nia", 
as French military critics called it our success here would be doubly valuable. In 
spite of the fact that the Germans learned of our plans this operation was carried 
out with the greatest success and despatch so that 27 hours after the attack began 
the salient had disappeared. 

The enemy's line from the North Sea to Switzerland now presented no weak 
spot as all salients had been reduced, first the Chateau-Thierry salient, then the 
Montdidier salient and the pretuberance farther North in the direction of the 
channel ports, and lastly the St-Mihiel salient. With ho more salients to reduce 
the Allied High Command was compelled to stage a frontal attack. And in view 
of the general situation, the lowered enemy morale, the depletion of his effectives 
and other things, it was determined to launch a general offensive along the entire 
line. It was certain that the enemy would put up his strongest defence at the 
two wings of his line, that is, in the region South of Lille and around Verdun. 
At these points his defenses were the strongest and the most numerous. It was 
certain, too, that the troops which attacked these two points would be able to win 
through only by heavy losses and of all the Allied Armies the young American 
.Army was the only one which could support the necessary losses. It is a source 
of great pride to the American Army chiefs that our troops who had just completed 
their final test in the battle of St-Mihiel were chosen for this difficult operation. 
We knew the difficulties w^e had before us and we knew also with what despara- 
tion the enemy would oppose us but we felt confident in victory. That we won is 
due to the brilliant leadership of our chiefs and, as one division has put it, to the 
American soldier who showed what he could do in an emergency "when he must 
go on to the utmost extent of his power". 


Standing on the crest of Montfaucon, on the roof of the concrete observation 
post from which the German Crown Prince watched his troops attack Verdun in 1916, 
the visitor has before him a wonderful view of the Meuse-Argonne battlefield. On 
tlfts ground the American Army wrote large its name in history and there the youth 
in khaki proved conclusively that he was the peer of any fighting man the world 
has ever seen. 

Looking north there unfolds before the view an unending series of rolling hills, 
covered here and there with patches of woods, each hill and each patch of woods 
seemingly a position impregnable. On the west tow^ers the wooded massif of the 
Argonne Forest, impenetrable except by the few trails that run through it. On 
the East are the heights of the Mease, dominated from the further bank of the river. 
Behind the spectator lies the single bare peak of Vauquois, the outpost of the 
observation post on which we stand, while to the Southeast appear through the 
midst the heights made famous in the battle of Verdun, 304 and Dead Man's Hill. 

Such is the battlefield as it appears to the eye, hill and valley alternating, each 
admirably suited for defence with nowhere the open plain necessary for maneuver. 

This battlefield stretching between the forest and the Meuse has played a 
prominent role in the war .since its beginning. It has been the pivot of important 
operations elsewhere rather than a field of maneuver. In 1914 when the German 
Armies pouring south from Montmedy reached the line on which the battle of the 
Marne vvas fought the pivot of th-l line was the fortress of Verdun. Even though 

— 2,) — 

it was surrounded on three sides, all German efforts to crush this pivot failed. In 
September 1914 the French Armies, fighting along the heights of Sivry, with their 
backs to Berlin, had a most important part in throwing back the Germans from 
the Marne. 

Th<^ Germans did not make anoth-er attempt to reduce this formidable point 
of resistance until 191G. In 1915, however, there was very heavy fighting in that 
part of the Argonne Forest known as the Bois de la Grurie and around Vauquois 
where the French Tenth Division ))articuhuiy distinguished itself. The names of 
such places as La Harazo, Le Four de Paris and La Fille Morte, evoke memories 
of some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. The village of Vauquois, perched on 
an abrupt peak which the Germans had turned into a powerfully fortified point of 
support, was attacked again and again by the French during 1915 but they never 
succeded in reducing it. Today not a stone of the village remains while as a result 
of mine warfare the peak has been blown apart. Up to September 26th one side 
of this immense crater was held by the Germans and the other side by the Amer- 
icans. The French had made great efforts to drive the enemy from the Forest of 
the Argonne for the j)uri)ose of wirming back Montfaucnn, a marvelous post of 
observation from which the valley of the Meuse can be seen as far south as Verdun. 
The Germans, too, strove to force their way southward in the Argonne in order to 
reach the heights of St. Menehould. Their object was to force a salient west of 
Verdun similar to the salient of St. Mihiel on the east. Had they been successful 
they undoubtedly would have brought about the fall of the fortress. 

'In order to judge correctly the historical importance of this battlefield it will 
be necessary to go back and recount briefly what happened in 1916. The attacks 
on Verdun were pivoted on two points, Montfaucon, west of the river, and the twin 
heights of Ornes on the east. Because of the fact that they are splendid observa- 
tories these positions are of particularly great value from a military point of view. 
It will be reralled that the Verdun battle began on Februai'y 21, 1916 and continued 
vi^ith almost no let-up until late that year. As the result of heavy fighting and 
stupendous losses the Germans succeeded in getting as far south as the forts of 
Douaumont and Vaux. After captiiring these positions they penetrated to the 
village of Fleury and even got into the fosse of Fort Souville. This was the extreme 
point of their advance. 

On the left bank of the Meuse the German operations against Verdun did not 
begin until the month of May 1916. These operations had for their primary purpose 
to join up the line with the advanced line on the right bank of the river and second- 
arily to close in on Verdun by capturing the formidable heights of 304 and Dead 
Man's Hill. The Germans did succeed in taking these heights at the cost of great 
sacrifices but they were unable to hold them. 

The French losses, too, had been very heavy on both sides of the river. During 
the battle every division in the army passed through the fire at Verdun. Whole 
regiments were wiped out even before coming in contact with the German infantry, 
so great was the artillery fire. Yet the French held on, disputing every foot of 
ground and counter-attacking at every opportunity. 

The French Command saw the absolute necessity of disengaging the village 
of Fleury and by a local counter-attack it was wrested from German hands. Then 
as the line had become stabilized the French Command believed that the time 
had come to launch a larger counter-attack for the purpose of retaking the forts 
of Douaumont and Vaux, these positions being necessary for a successful defence 
of Verdun. This operation, carried out in October 1916 under the leadership of 
General Mangin, then a Corps Commander, was entirely successful. Immediately 
plans wero made for a larger operation to push back the Germans to their starting 
point. In December 1916 this attack, was made ; it was as successful as the first 
and resulted in forcing the Germans back to approximately the line from which 
they had ■")egun their great offensive in February. 

Hill 304 and Dead Man's Hill were not finally cleared of the enemy until 

— 21-- 

August 20, 1917 when the Germans on the left bank of the Meiise were driven 
back to the exact positions from which they had started, that is, the line running 
from Avocourt to the river in the neighborhood of Forges. It is from this line that 
the Americans advanced to the attack on the 26th of September. 

The old battle line from the Argonne to the Meuse may then be divided into 
two distinct parts. The western part ran from the western edge of the Argonne 
to Avecourt and had been stationary for four years until the Americans broke 
through it on September 26th. The eastern part ran from Avocourt to the Meuse. 
This section of the line had constantly fluctuated as a result of Germany's vain 
attempts to reduce the fortress of Verdun. 

It may be said without fear of contradiction that nowhere on the Western 
Front were the German defences builded on such solid foundations as betweerf 
the Argonne and the Meuse. To understand the reasons for this one must study 
the entire German defensive system in France. Picture the various lines of defence 
as huge steel cables strung between two pillars, the northern pillar being the 
fortified area of Lille and the southern, the Metz-Thionville area. These various 
cables, the outer one being the famous Hindenburg line sagged in the center around 
Laon so that between each cable at this point there was a stretch of about 20 kilo- 
meters. But on the Meuse-Argonne front close to the Metz-Thionville pillar all 
five cables were so grouped that they together covered not more than 20 kilometers 
of territory. It was against this mass of defensive lines, the Hindenburg line, 
the Hagon Stellung, the Volker Stellung, the Kriemhilde Stellung and the Freya 
Stellung, that the American Army launched its attack. 

All these lines of defence followed the heights, depending on the natural strength 
of the positions on which they were built The Hindenburg, Hagen and Kriemhilde 
Stellungs were the principal lines of defence ; the others were local lines destined 
to defend particular positions. The principal lines above-named were solidly 
concreted and wired — the latest word in defensive warfare as experience since 1914 
had taught it. 

One may ask why the German defensive system was constructed in this way. 
The answer is very simple. To win the war Germany must have undisturbed access 
to the inexhaustible coal fields of northern France and Belgium as well as to the 
iron mines of Lorraine and therefore she had to build her defences so as to cover 
these territories. In addition she had to protect the great double track (in places 
four track) railroad line running from Lille to Metz along the Franco-Belgian 
frontier. This line was as important to her as either the coal or iron fields for 
the reason that by it she could move rapidly large numbers of troops from one 
front to another. This ability to shift troops and supplies by interior railway 
lines was responsible more than anything else for German's early successes, both 
in offense and defense. In other words from a military point of view Germany's 
strategic success depended on the Lille-Metz railway line and her economic success 
on the coal fields of Belgium and France and the iron fields of Lorraine. Without 
either one or the other she was doomed to defeat. 

This main transversal line of communication, or as the French call it the 
"voie de rocade, " was fed in the north by the immense railroad system running 
through Liege and in the south by the lines running through Luxembourg. Owing 
to the topography these are the main arteries running into France from the north 
and northeast and it was through these two main arteries that all troops and all 
supplies came into France. 

When the lack of man-power compelled the German High Command to envisage 
the approaching necessity of a shortening of the line — and this lack of man- 
power became evident in May, 1918 — the question of carrying out successfully this 
shortening of the line became all important. Owing to the fact that the territory of 
Holland juts southward into Belgium close to Liege the great percentage of German 
troops in France must retreat by the southern artery above described. Therefore 

- 22 — 

ilie (icnuan frmit in the region of Verdun or op|)osit€ the fr(jnt held by the American 
Army must necessarily hold to the last in order to guarantee the successful with- 
drawal of troops further west and north. In fact, the Meuse-Argonne front was 
the hinge on which the entire German retreat swung and being the hinge it was 
solidly fortified to resist all attacks. 

It is a source of great pride to the American Army and its chiefs that we were 
given the honor of attacking this point in the German line, which, we knew, would 
be more solidly held and more desperately defended than any other. Marshal 
Foch paid us the compliment of giving us the most difficult and perhaps the most 
ungrateful task in the great Offensive that continued almost without interruption 
from July 18th to the signing of the armistice. By continually pounding on the 
system of fortifications lying between the Argonne and the Meuse the American 
Army was first able to lessen the enemy's resistance on the French and British 
fronts and secondly, our perseverance was crowned with the greatest success hoped 
for. When we succeeded in bringing the great voie de rocade under fire of our 
light guns the enemy had to withdraw beyond the Meuse. Only then did he see 
disaster staring him in the face. To stave off this disaster he signed the terms of 
the armistice. 


It is very evident from all information obtained that the German High Com- 
mand knew of our preparations for an attack on a large scale. The Germans' Air 
Service and Information Service had warned them that we were making prepara- 
tions for a big attack but because of the fact that we had only two weeks before 
reduced the St-Mihiel Salient they believed that our principal effort would be 
directed against [Nletz. Orders captured shortly after Sept. 26th showed that the 
enemy was preparing to meet an American attack east of the Meuse and he there- 
fore had massed large forces to protect the Briey iron basin and the Metz-Thion- 
ville area. 

The importance to the Germans of holding the line from the Argonne to the 
Meuse is no better shown than in the following secret order of General von der 
Marwitz, Commanding the Fifth Army, which was captured early in October: 


According to information in our hands the enemy intends to attack the 
Fifth Army east of the Meuse in order reach Longuyon. The objective 
of this attack is the cutting of the railroad line Longuyon-Sedan whicli is 
the main line of communication of the Western Army. 

Furthermore the enemy hopes to compel us to discontinue the exploi- 
tation of the iron mines of Briey, the possession of which is a great factor 
in our steel production. . 

The Fifth Army once again may have to bear the brunt of the fighting 
of the coming weeks on which the security of the Fatherland may depend. 
The fate of a large portion of the Western Front, perhaps of our nation, 
depends on the firm holding of the Verdun front. The Fatherland believes 
that every commander and every soldier realizes the greatness of his task 
and that everyone will fulfill his duty to the utmost. If this is done the 
enemy's attack will be shattered. 

It will he seen from this order that the enemy judged correctly our intentions, 
first, to cut the Longuyon-Sedan railroad line, and secondly, to harass and if pos- 
sible discontinue the exploitation of the Briey iron mines. Concerning the first. 

— 23 — 

General von der Marwitz says that the railroad line is the main line of communi- 
' cation of the western army. He further says that the possession of the Briey iron 
mines is a great factor in the steel production of Gemnanxj. These two w^ere of 
prime importance to Germany's success in the war. Her entire defensive system 
in northern France was based on this great voie de rocade since by this means she 
had always been able to shift troops quickly from one front to another. In modern 
warfare the success of any defence depends to a great extent upon this abiiity for 
rapid movement. 

The Briey iron basin contains four fifths of all the iron ore in Continental 
Europe. In the remaining fifth there must be included the ore in Sweden, Russia 
and other regions. It follows, therefore, that Germany to be successful must hold 
on to and be able to use this iron basin. The loss of it would have meant a speedy 
end to the war. 

It is readily seen, therefore, that of all sectors of the Western front that which 
the Am.ericans were to attack was to the enemy the most important and the most 
vital. The strategists on the side of the Allies knew that the war would be won 
when the Longuyon-Sedan railroad had been cut and that the cutting of this line 
would soon force the enemy to give up his hold on the Briey iron basin. That is 
to say, if the enemy had not signed the armistice he would have been forced in the 
new attack planned for November 14th to surrender unconditionally. On No- 
vember 11th, the date the armistice was signed, this railroad line was already cut 
and American and French troops were massed for the new attack which would 
have isolated Metz. Our intelligence reported that the enemy had only one fresh 
division on the entire western front with which to block our attack 

From September 26th to November 11th the enemy used 46 different divisions 
in the line against us. Of these, 13 were engaged a second time and 2 a third time. 
Of these 46 divisions 15 were first class shock divisions, so that the enemy threvv' 
in against us one third of his total forces in France. On the front west of the 
Meuse 15 German divisions were engaged from the local reserve. Twenty-three 
divisions came from other fronts, 17 from the French front, five from the American 
line and one from fhe British front. East of the Meuse as far as Fresnes, or to the 
eastern limit of the First Army sector, sixteen enemy divisions were engaged from 
the local reserve and three from the French front. 

Looking at these statistics in another way, we see that only four enemy divis- 
ions were withdrawn to the French front, one division was withdrawn because of 
the Austrian armistice and four went to the other American front. Twenty-seven 
divisions went back to the local reserve. These figures show conclusively the value 
of our attack to our Allies' offensive in Champagne and in the north. 

Another reason why the American attack was of vital importance to the Ger- 
mans was that it threatened one of the two main arteries of supply leading from 
Germany into France. In order to safeguard the troops opposing the French and 
British armies it was imperative for General von der Marwitz to hold his positions, 
doubly so because reduced man-power was compelling the German High Command 
to shorten its front and the only way to shorten the front was to the entire 
line in a northeasterly direction on von der Marwitz's army as a pivot. If this 
pivot should crumble before the line had been swung back the German Armies 
faced disaster. 

AMied experts have figured that on the German side a division was not entirely, 
withdrawn from the line until it had total losses of 3,000. This rule had heretofore 
been followed closely but in the last few weeks of the Meuse-Argonne Battle there 
was no attempt to keep the German troops in sufficient reserve and everything 
was thrown in without regard to former standards. There v/ere evidences as early 
as last May that the Germans were beginning to suffer from lack of man-power. 
A specialist in the French Army predicted three months before the time when the 
Germans put in their class of 1920 t,hat such a move would be made. This class 

— 21 — 

began to appear in the front lines in October but strict orders had been issu«d by 
Ludendorff to withdraw these young men and keep tlieni at the recruit depots as 
thoy were to have been used, being the only material available, for offensive action. 
In order to keep their divisions up to some semblance of fighting strength the 
Germans took the other alternative, that of dissolving a great number of divisions. 
Ihis began last May and continued steadily so that by November 1, thirty-one divis- 
ions had thus been broken up. In addition to this reenforcements were sent into 
the line during the course of the Meuse-Argonne Battle from all sorts of auxiliary 
services, telephonists, heavy artillerymen, etc., in an endeavor to fill up the gaps 
in their line. Every service of the rear was thus combed to make further defence 

In the last few weeks of the Meuse-Argonne Battle our chiefs observed the 
jjhenomenon of the G-ermans sending their renforcemcnts directly into the line 
instead of following what had been formerly the invariable rule of withdrawing a 
shattered division for replacements and training behind the lines. In several 
cases the units of a division appeared at different places in the line. This was 
due to the urgent necessity of stopping the gaps with whatever troops were avail- 
able at the moment. A glance at the map showing the daily advances of the Amer- 
ican troops will prove more conclusively than anything else that our attack never 
slackened. Each day brought an advance in one part or another of the battle line 
and each day brought a threat from a new quarter for the Germans, Conse- 
quently it was necessary for the German Command to move quickly whatever 
troops were available to the threatened point. This continued shifting of troops 
within the battle area caused great confusion. One notable instance of this was 
when the 45th Reserve Division which had been resting in Alsace was entrained 
for Flanders on September 27th. The seriousness of our attack west of the Meuse 
could then be judged by the enemy and he was able to stop three trains carrying 
troops of this division and divert them to the Argonne Front. The troops of this 
division, therefore, appeared simultaneously at several places opposite us, making 
the problem of control and supply of these units increasingly difficult. 

In various other instances the reserve regiment of a division was shifted out 
of its sector to aid a division on its flank. All these things showed the great need 
of man-power behind the enemy's line. On November 11th, the day the armistice 
was signed, the enemy had 41 divisions in reserve. Of these 41 divisions only one 
had been out of the line for the necessary period of rest, that is, one month. The 
others had either been just taken out or had been rested from a few days to a week 
or two and according to the generally accepted standards were unfit for offensive 

It is seen from the above that on the day of the opening of our great battle, 
which was launched in conjunction with attacks by our Allies along the entire 
front, the Germans had at their disposal only a limited supply of reserves, a supply 
which was fast dwindling. In addition to this there must be considered the fact 
that the German morale since early in August had appreciably lowered so that the 
German fighting man of September 26th was by no means the same man who 
advanced against the British and French on March 21. He had lost faith in his 
cause and he knew that the great peace offensive had failed. War-weary and 
disheartened as he was, he faced the disagreeable task of endeavoring to stave off 
com.plete defeat at the hands of an enemy numerically superior and supported by 
the faith in victory that only a long series of successes can give. 

It is certain that up to November 1 the Germans expected to break down our 
offensive by the stubbornest machine-gun and artillery defence that has been 
known since the beginning of the war. The enemy delivered only local counter- 
attacks but he took full advantage of every position which could be organised for 
defence. When our new attack of November 1 began the enemy still hoped to 
hold us off. To do this he threw in three new divisions on November 1, three 

more on Nov. 2, six on November 3, 2 on November 4 and three on November 5. 
Then he saw that a withdrawal behind the Meuse was inevitable and he attempt- 
ed in the next few days to extricate his badly tangled troops from the very danger- 
ous position in which they found themselves. In this connection, it is a point of 
interest to not-e that the German communique on November 1 admitted for the 
first time in four and a half years of war that their line had been broken-through. 
The British at Cambrai broke through the first two German lines but the third 
held long enough for the necessary reenforcements to arrive. 

The following table shows how the Germans made their last attempt to protect 
the Metz-Longuyon railroad: 

West of the Meuse. 

^^^® Divs. in Line. 

Nov. 1 Germans 10 

Oct. 31 Germans 13 

Nov. 2 Germans 16 

Nov. 3 Germans 21 

Nov. 4 Germans 22 

Nov. 5 Germans 20 

Nov. 6 Germans 19 

Americans 8 
Americans 8 
Americans 8 
Americans G 

The German line from the Argonne to the Meuse on September 26th was held 
by five divisions. From east to west they were the 7th Reserve Division, the 117th 
Reserve, the First Guard, the Second Landwehr and the 9th Landwehr. Only one 
of these divisions was a first-class unit, the Guard Division, which having suffered 
severely at other points on the front had been sent to the Meuse-Argonne region 
for what was expected to be a rest. This division was commanded by Prince Eitel 
Friederich, the Kaiser's second son, who had the rank of major-general. This 
division came from the Russian front in the latter part of 1917 and early this year 
went through a course of training in open warfare for the great March offensive. 
Later it took part in the advance to the Marne where it had hard fighting. It 
crossed the Marne on July 15th in the attack against Epernay and Chalons but 
suffered severely in the heavy fighting that preceded the breaking up of that offen- 
sive. Because of the brilliant part that this division had taken in the Chemin-des- 
Dames offensive of May 27th Prince Eitel was raised to the rank of Major-General. 

The Seventh Reserve Division took part in the Somme ofl'ensive near Lassigny 
and also in the Aisne Battle. Since March 21 it had lost large numbers in killed 
and wounded while over 2,000 prisoners from this unit alone had fallen into the 
hands of the Allies. Its losses up to September 26th totalled more than 150 %. 
It came to the Meuse-Argonne front from a sector north of Soissons v>'here it had 
been engaged against General Mangin's Army. 

The 117th Reserve Division, made up of many men of Polish and Alsatian 
birth, was regarded more as a holding than as an attacking division. It had been 
in Italy and early this year had been considerably used up by hard fighting in 
Flanders and in the region of-Peronne. 

But of the five German Divisions holding the line Vv^est of the Meuse September 
26th perhaps the most interesting is the Second Landwehr which had spent more 
than a year in the Argonne Forest where there had been no fighting since the 
unsuccessful French offensive in 1915. This division, made up entirely of men 
over 35 years of age who came mostly from Wurttemberg, had had practically no 
losses during all this time. This division was never relieved as a unit, it was 
merely sacrificed and finally vanished. In the desperate fighting in the forest of 
the Argonne against the 28th and 77th American divisions the Second Landwehr 
lost heavily as the fighting went on day and night without rest. By October 28th, 
or a month and two days after the battle started, this unit of old men had been so 

— 20 - 

torn to shreds that it simply clisa|>peared, its place being filled by units on its 
flanks which had gradually taken over its sector to fill up gaps in its ranks. 

Two other Guard Divisions were engaged against the Americans, the Fifth 
which had already met the Americans in the Chateau Thierry region and the 
Third which had suffered very heavy losses, particulary among its officers, in the 
fighting in the early part of the year. Of the other first-class divisions, engaged 
on the Meuse-Argonne front especial mention should be made of the 28th, the 
Kaiser's favorite, and the 13th. The former had always lost heavily wherever 
engaged but it had always distinguished itself. The 13th had seen hard service 
from the beginning of August 1914 up to the time it entered the battle line against 
us. It had often been reconstituted but had always been filled up with Prussians, 
It was engaged in Belgium at the fall of Liege, in Champagne, in Artois, at Ver- 
dun, on the Somme and oji the Chemin des Dames. 

The 52nd Division, another "flrst-class unit engaged against us, had a notable 
record in the Aisne offensive this year. Jt was particularly distinguished in the 
German Army because of the fact that it had only one deserter on record. The 
37th Division, which was also used, w^as regarded as pne of the best German fight- 
ing units. It contained Hindenburg's old regiment, the 147th, and had always 
been kept up to the highest standard. 

It is with such units as these just named that General Von der Marwitz built 
up the backbone of his defense, hoping by making our advance as costly as possible 
and by defending every hill and every wood to the last man that the American 
offensive — the first great major operation in which the young army from across 
the sea was engaged — would come to an end as had so many other offensives in 
this war. That he failed is due to the remarkable fighting qualities, the spirit 
and the determination of the American fi.ghting men. 

(First Phase, Sept. 26 - Oct. 4). 

The preparations of the First American Army for an offensive on a large scale 
between the Argonne and the Meuse in conjunction with the French Fourth Army 
on our left were made with great secrecy. Because of the fact that the St-]^.lihiel 
operation had just terminated and that the general opinion in France as well as 
in Germany was that we were to continue our attack in this direction the troops 
necessary for the Meuse-Argonne offensive were moved with speed to the new front. 

The sector taken over a few days prior to September 26th extended from La 
Harazee in the Argonne Forest to the Meuse in the region of Forges. A thin screen 
of French troops was left in line so that the enemy at the last moment would not 
be able to make identifications of our units. The First Corps, comprising the 77th, 
28th and 35th Divisions in line, had the sector between La Harazee and Vauqu.ois. 
Ihe Fifth Corps, comprising the 91st, 37th and 79th Divisions, held the sector from 
Vauquois to a point about two kilometers S. E. of Malancourt. The Third Corps 
on the right had the sector from Malancourt to the Meuse with the 4th, 80th and 
33rd Divisions in line. 

The 17th French Corps on the right bank of the Meuse, although a part of 
the First American Army, was not to take part in the attack until later. The 
problem of supply for this front, particularly in view of the offensive action 
planned, was one of great difficulty as there was only one main road, that running 
from Clermont north in the valley of the Aire and only one main lateral road 
behind the froiit running from Clermont to Verdun. 

The general plan for the attack must be studied in connection with the attack 
of the French Fourth Army on our left. Both armies were to deliver powerful 
hammer blows against the most vital as well as the strongest part of the German 

line and thus facilitate the penetrating attacks of the French and British Armies 
on the northern front. The original objectives for the First American Army and 
the Fourth French Army constitued two deep salients to be thrust into the enemy's 
line on both sides of the Argonne Forest, this forest being considered impregnable 
by direct assault. To the west the line of the salient ran from the eastern edge 
of the Bois de Forges through the heights south of Monthois to the Liry-Orfeuil- 
Medeah Farm Road. This was the French Army objective. The American Army 
objective was a line running from east of the forest to Apremont, Exermont, Roma- 
gne, Cunel, Brieuiles and the Meuse. The combined objective of the two armies 
ran by Monthois, Vaux les Mouron, the Aisne to its junction with the Aire, the 
Aire to Chevieres, St-Juvin and the ridges north of that village, Landres et St- 
Georges, the Bantheville Road and from here south-eastward to Brieuiles. It will 
be seen that this combined objective did not call for an advance in the salient west 
of the Argonne but if reached it would mean the clearing up of the Argonne Forest.- 

With these two first objectives attained it was the plan to make two similar 
thrusts on either side of the Bois de Bourgogne and other wooded areas north 
of the Aire. The objective for the Fourth French Army ran from Mouron along 
the Aisne as far as Vouziers and here turned west. The American Army objective 
was determined approximately by the villages of Talma, Briquenay and Autruche. 
From here there was a gradual curve to the east and south reaching the Meus^e at 
Dan-sur-Meuse. These two salients were approximately ten kilometers in depth 
while the first salients were 15 kilometers in depth. The ultimate combined second 
objective was to continue the thrust east of the Forest in the American sector to 
an approximate depth of seven kilometers. The French salient to the west was 
not to be materially deepened. 

Now as regards the American front it will be seen that our center driving 
down the valley of the Aire and over the wooded hills to the east had a most diff- 
icult task to perform. Our extreme left was not to move forward except as the 
situation farther east demanded it. On our right the Third Corps, particularly 
on its tight, was to serve as a pivot for the entire attack, that is, two divisions 
were to swing over to the Meuse and thus guarantee the flank of the troops further 
West. The Fourth Division, the left division of this corps, was to reach the Meuse 
north of Brieuiles, the 80th south of that village and the 33rd to swing around to 
the east after having crossed the little Forges, the stream which lay immedi- 
ately in front of the corps sector. This stream in itself was not a difficult obstacle 
but owing to Ihe fact that it had marshy ground on both sides of it the problem 
of getting artillery and supplies across was one of the most difficult with which 
our engineers had yet to deal. This corps had another difficulty to face in view 
of the fact that it had no road at all in the s^ector of the Fourth Division and its 
starting-off positions were completely dominated by Montfaucon on the west and 
the heights on the east bank of the Meuse directly ahead. 

The Fifth Corps in the center had in front of it unusually difficult terrain. On 
the left and center there was a considerable wooded area with many hills and 
ravines. On the right was the Bois de Cuisy with the towering heights of Mont- 
faucon beyond, the reduction of which was the principal objective on this front. 
The right of the First Corps had to advance down the deep corridor of the Aire 
with dominating heights on the western bank. 

Thp general attack began at 5.30 on the morning of September 26th after six 
houis artillery preparation. This intense and prolonged artillery fire was nec- 
essary so as to do as much damage as possible to the heavily fortified lines in front 
of us which the Germans had held in most cases since the end of the battle of the 
Marne in 1914. Their first line of defense, the Hindenburg lines, was not only sol- 
idly reenforced with concrete but vast areas of wire, particularly in the Argonne 
Forest, had been stretched in front of it. Behind the Hindenburg line was a sup- 
port line known as the Hagen Stellung while further to the rear was a powerfully 
organized system of trenches defending the approaches to Montfaucon. This was 

— '.^i^ — 

known as the \olker Stellung. The roar of huridntls of guns along our twenty- 
mile front made the night of September 25-2(3 an inferno. Our smaller pieces played 
on the German front positions, destroying their trenches and wire while the guns 
of larger calibre sought out the roads leading up to the front. 

The effect of this storm of fire is seen in the initial advance of our troops who 
penetrated the enemy's line to an average depth of seven miles. On the left we 
took the height of Vauquois and Varennes almost without opposition. The TTth 
Division succeeded in making some progress noi-th of La Harazee in spite of the 
great natural difficulties of the terrain. The 91st Division of the Fifth Corps 
pushed through a heavy fog and overcoming machine-gun and light artillery res- 
istance reached at nightfall the line on the ridge running from Very to the neigh- 
borhood of Montfaucon Its patrols got as far as the village of Epinonville. The 
other two divisions of the corps, the 37th and 79th, got through the woods immed- 
iately in front of them and by 6 P. M. the slopes leading up to Montfaucon were 
in the hands of troops of the 79th. The 313th Inf. on orders kept on in the dusk 
to attack Montfaucon itself with the aid of two tanks. The other tanks used in 
the initial attack had either been knocked out or had been mired. The advancing 
infantry of the 313th was deluged with machine-gun fii-e, high explosives and 
grenades. Because of the lack of artillery support the attempt to take Montfaucon 
was given up after heavy casualties, the regiment's line being established along 
the northern edge of the Montfaucon Wood. 

The crossing of the Forges stream by the 33rd Division of the Third Corps 
will always remain a remarkable feat. These troops advanced down steep slopes 
and pivoting around the Bois de Forges, which the enemy had considered impreg- 
nable, swung toward the Meuse. Duckboards were thrown over the enemy wire 
in some places and elsewhere the troops waded through the swampy ground under 
a galling fire. By noon, however, all troops of this division had reached their 
objectives along the Meuse, having covered a distance of seven kilometers. The 
other two divisions of this corps met strong resistance after the first breaking 
of the line and suffered particulary from the artillery fire that rained on them 
from the east bank of the Meuse. The Engineers of the Fourth Division should 
be mentioned for gallant work. Starting at 3.30 P. M. September 25 to build up 
the trail that led from Esnes to Malancourt, a distance of about five kilometers, 
they had completed by 1.35 P. M. September 26th a full sized road including two 
artillery bridges. Forty thousand sand bags were used in this work. This divi- 
sion pushed forward as far as Cuisy. The total number of prisoners taken by 
our army September 26th exceeded 5,000. 

From the first day the difficulty of getting up supplies and artillery because 
of the bad roads began to make itself felt and particularly on the right of the 
Army sector the infantry was compelled to hold on to the positions they had 
gained without any protection from their own artillery. The enemy soon recov- 
ered from his surprise and on September 27th and the following days his resis- 
tance grew continually stronger. Counter-attacks were made at some points but 
he resisted mostly with machine-guns and an ever increasing artillery fire. 

This artillery fire was unusually harassing from the east bank of the Meuse. 

On the left the enemy thrcAv in three new divisions in an attempt to stay our. 
advance down the Aire Valley. The 37th Division entered Ivoiry and took Hill 
2.58 southwest of the town but was later withdrawn because of the enemy's heavy 
fire. The right of the 37th Division and the left regiment of the 79th made a 
concerted attack on Montfaucon with the aid of tanks and a machine-gun barrage. 
They met with extremely strong resistance but nevertheless the 313th Inf. reached 
the town at 11 A. M. The right of the 37th Division occupied the town at 1.30 
P. M., and mopped it up, so that at dark their line ran along the Ivoiry-Mont- 
faucon Road. These two divisions began to show great exhaustion as they had 
met with resistance at practically every foot of their advance since daylight the 

— '29 - 

day before and owing to the condition of the roads liaison with units on their 
flanks was almost impossible. 

On the right of the army sector the 33rd Division held its ground as planned 
along the Meuse. The Fourth pushed forvvard to the Northern edge of the Bois 
de Brieulles and in the southern portion of the Bois du Faye, just beyond, ran 
into strong resistance. The 80th Division reached the army objective except on 
its left where it was held up by the 4th Division's unsuccessful advance. 

The total number of prisoners for the first two days was over 8,000 with 
100 guns of all calibres. Of these the 80th Division by its rapid advance to the 
river captured over 22 guns in and around Dannevoux. On the extreme left the 
right elements of the 77th Division had reached the army objective while further 
east the 91st as well as the other two divisions of the Fifth Corps were pushing 
forward in the face of stubborn resistance. In the Bois de Cierges, Bois de Baulny 
and the Bois d'Emont they found numerous machine-gun nests which held up 
their advance while low flying enemy airplanes made frequent attacks on their 
front lines. The advance made by the 91st Division was particularly noteworthy. 
It went ahead of the divisions on both its flanks, the 35th on the left and the 37th 
on the right, but because of the impossibility of these divisions to keep up with 
it had to give up ground won at great cost. The 91st finding little opposition on 
the first day soon ran into an ever increasing machine-gun and artillery fire. On 
September 29th, after having cleared the Bois de Baulny and Les Epinettes Bois 
the day before, renewed its attack. Although held up at the town of Cierges these 
troops cleared the wood of that name and on the left pushed forward as far as 
the woods North of Tronsol Farm. Another attack was ordered in the afternoon 
and on the front of the 91st Division it was successful. The town of Gesnes was 
taken while on the left the line went beyond the Bois de la Morine and the Bois 
de Chene Sector. 

At 4 P. M. the commander of the 91st learned that the leading elements of 
the 35th Division on his left had fallen back from the vicinity of Exermont towards 
Baulny while on the right the Bois Emont had been evacuated by the leading 
units of the 37th Division. This left the flanks of the 91st very badly exposed and 
the division was in great danger of being cut off. The 91st sent word to the 37th 
asking that it move forward far enough to cover the right flank. The reply was 
that such a movement was impossible. The 35th Division on the left of the 91st 
was in no better plight ; it was retiring to Baulny and sending out an appeal for 
help on both flanks. The 91st Division therefore had no other course to follow 
but to fall back under cover of nightfall and it was compelled to use some of its 
own troops to protect its left flank while this movement was being carried out. 

It established a line running east and west through the center of the Bois 
de Cierges, Exmorieux Farm and Hill 231, with outposts along the northern edge 
of the Bois de Cierges and the Bois de Baulny. 

The 79th Division succeeded finally in reaching the Bois de Beuge and the 
village of Nantillois but several attacks for the Bois des Ogons failed, the assisting 
tanks being knocked out. Overcoming unusual difficulties supplies were got 
through to these troops as far as Montfaucon. The height of Montfaucon, once 
in our hands, was made the particular target of the enemy's artillery and he 
continued to fire on it daily until November 1 when be was driven out of range. 

On the extreme right the 4th and 80th Divisions attempted to exploit their 
gains but failed under heavy flank fire from the east bank of the Meuse. The 
latter division was relieved on this date by a brigade of its neighbor on the right, 
the 33rd. In three days fighting it had covered nine kilometers. 

The fighting of the next few days was extremely bitter although local in 
character as it was soon seen that we could make no further general advance 
until the artillery had been brought up, roads repaired and the men themselves 

— 30 - 

given some rest as in many cases they were approaching complete exhaustion. 
On September 30 the 37th Division after having made an advance of ten kilometers 
was relieved by the S-2nd. The 79th which had covered seven and one half kilo- 
meters from its starting point was relieved by the Third Division. The 91st held 
desperately to its line vnitil October 4 in the face of heavy fire and the great expo- 
sure of the troops. On that day it was r-elieved by the 32nd Division which four 
days previously had taken over the 37th Division's sector. The Germans continued 
to reenforce their front, rushing up new divisions from the Metz urea. The 77th 
Division in the tree to tree fighting which the Argonne Forest made necessary 
advanced slowly while the 28th Division on its right reached the ridges west of 

Our line on October 1 in the forest was about two kilometers ahead of the 
first objectiv-e. East of Apremont and as far as the Meuse it was from three to 
five kilometers south of that objective. 

In summing up this first phase of the battle it may be seen tliat on the first 
and second days of the offensive our troops broke through the first two lines of 
the enemy's defences and penetrated the third line, the Volker Stellung, at one 
point. From then on until October 4 there was bitter close quarter fighting all 
along the front with the exception of on the extreme right which was protected 
by the Meuse. The most bitter fighting was on the right of the First Corps as 
the Germans were making every effort to hold the salient which m conjunction 
with the French we had formed in their line in the Argonne Forest. 


(Second Phase. Oct. 4 - Nov. 1.) 

Along the greater part of the front the enemy was now established in his 
positions known as the Kriemhilde Stellung, his fourth line of defence. This line 
ran along the heights north of Beffu, Landres et St. Georges and Bantheville. 
Patrols from the 32nd Division had discovered that the village of Cierges had been 
•evacuated and at this point our line had been pushed forward to directly in front 
of the Kriemhilde Stellung. 

On October 4 the general attack was resumed without artillery preparation but 
accompanied by a heavy barrage. The attack met with strong resistance from 
the first but our troops succeeded in capturing positions of considerable importance 
such as the Boi<s du Fays, the Bois des Ogons and the villages of Exermont. Chehery 
and La Forge. In the center the resistance of the enemy was very stubborn so. 
that the total advance of the day was a bare kilometer. Here the 32nd Division 
was heavily engaged both on October 4th and 5th. This unit took the village of 
Gesnes but it was forced out again by an encircling fire. Twice on October 5, troops 
of the 80th Division attacked the Bois des Ogons with the assistance of tanks. This 
sec^d attack at 6 P. ^I. was apparently a surprise and our troops finally succeeded 
in reaching the northern edge of the wood. These positions, won at the cost of 
great efforts, were thoroughly consolidated during the following days. 

On October 6th a new movement developed which had not been included in the 
original plans for the battle. The German positions in the Argonne forest were 
seriously;, threatened but in order to force them to retire noi"th of the Aire where 
that river turns west to join the Aisne it was necessary to capture the heights on 
the eastern edge of the forest. These heights, formidable natural positions and 
well organised by the enemy for defense, dominated the river valley by 300 feetr 
A brigade of the 82nd Division took over part of the 28th Division's sector along the 
rivpr and with the 55th Brigade of the 28th Division supported by one regiment of 
tne 56th Brigade, made the attack in a westerly direction from Chehery. The 
82nd Division, which was to extend the front of the attack as far north as '''' eville, was 

— 31 — 

anable to get its left regiment, the 327th Infantry, up in time so that there was a 
gap in the line. 

The attaciving infantry got across the river l)y fording and by hastily con- 
structing a footbridge. The 55th Brigade soon had possession of Chatel Chehery 
but was held up on the slopes of Hill 244. On the right Hill 223 had not been 
taken as the 327th Infantry of the 82nd Division did not get up until noon and the 
right of the 55th Brigade was suffering severely from machine gun fire coming 
from this fiank. A battalion, therefore, was sent forward to take Hill 223. This 
position, being in the sector of the 82nd Division, was later turned over to that 
unit. Hill 244 was only captured after terrific fighting. The 82nd on the right 
took Cornay and captured Hill 180. 

This bold operation, which came as a complete surprise to the enemy, soon 
bore fruit. Outflanked, he found his salient in the Argonne untenable and he beat 
a hasty retreat. By October 10th the 77th Division had-advanced as far as Chevieres, 
pushing through the woods a distance of 8 kilometers and clearing the forest. The 
82nd Division took over the entire sector of the 28th. 

This sudden attack to the west was made possible by the brilliant work of 
the First Division which after relieving the 35th on October 1 had forced its way 
northward to the Kriemhilde Stellung and thus was able to protect the right flank 
of the attack against the Argonne ridges. 

On October 2 the First Battalion of the 308th Inf. with about a company of 
the 307th and elements of the 306th Machine Gun Company (about seven companies 
in all) became cut off on the La Viergette road about 500 meters east of the Moulin 
de Charlevaux, in the heart of the forest. The 77th Division in its advance had 
left its left flank in the air and was unable to protect it because a regiment of the 
92nd Division (colored) acting as a liaison unit had failed to keep contact. The 
enemy therefore filtered in behind these sevea companies under Major Charles S. 
Whittlesey and cut them off. For five days this detachment held out under galling 
fire from all sides. ^ It was finally rescued on October 7th by the 307th Infantry 
although it had lost about half its strength in killed and wounded. 

The center of our line was still one kilometer south of the Kriemhilde Stellung. 
It was planned to break through the line of hills on the left of the Bois de Valoup 
and to get through to the Tranchee de la Mamelle, thus encircling the village of 
Romagne. This attack, if successful, would pierce the Kriemhilde line at its 
strongest point. With the aid of the 42nd Division which had come in on the left 
of the 32nd our troops advanced under a heavy barrage on the morning of October 
9th while a constant fire was concentrated on the village of Romagne. On the 
left of this attack the 32nd Division had great success, penetrating the enemy's 
system at one point on the Cote Dame Marie. The right of the division got into 
hand to hand fighting in the Mamelle trench and was stopped. Further to the right 
the 80th Division made a considerable gain so that at dark its troops were on the 
Cunel-Brieulles Road. Two companies filtered into Cunel itself, surprising the 
garrison and capturing them. The following day the 80th Division planned to 
continue its attack but the enemy's fire broke it up before it got started. It was 
relieved by the Fifth Division. The Fourth Division on the right of the 80th was 
to have followed up the successes of that unit but owing to the unusual resistance 
met with these troops were recalled at darkness. On Octoher 12, however, the 
Fourth Division was able to get through the Bois de Foret and from there it pushed 
out its patrols to Hill 299. 

Vv'ith the Clearing of the Argonne Forest a new objective was set for the First 
Corps, a line running north of Briquenay and Thenorgues and south of Sivry les 
Buzancy. It involved an average advance of nine kilometers and was intented 
to flank the Bois de Bourgogne and compel the enemy's withdrawal. On this 
front there was no advance on October 11 and 12, only a slight rectification of the 
line. Elements of the 82nd Division crossed the Aire on improvised brids:es and 
the 77r]i was able to get patrols across after passing throu^irh the Bois de Negromont. 

The French troops on our left during th^se two days had advanced about 12 kilo- 
meters west of the Aisne. Until November 1 this army was always over ten 
kilometers in advance of our line. This indicates the great value which the 'enemy 
placed on the flanking buttress of the Bois de Bourgogne and the ridges betwceii 
this wood and the Meuse. 

In the center of the line our troops were having groat difficulty as they were 
still held up by the formidable positions of the Krienihilde Stellung. On October 
12 one brigade of the 5th Division relieved the 80th just south of Cunel and part 
of the Fourth Division so that the lineup on this date from left to right was as 
follows: 32nd, 3rd, 5th, 4th. The 32nd was just south of the Kriemhiide Stellung 
south of Romagne. The Third along the Krienihilde line from south of Romagne 
to south of Cunel ; the Fifth along the Cunel-Brieulles Road and the Fourth north 
of the road in the Bois de Foret. Only two battalions of the Fifth had been put 
into line when at 4 P. M. the division received orders to be relieved by the Third. 
The Third Division also relieved a few days later what was left of the Fourth. 
The 33rd Division, which had made no move since October 4 when by an extension 
to its left it had taken over the 80th Division's sector, was turned over to the 17th 
French Corps occupying the line East of the Meuse. 

On October 14 the advance was resumed all along the line and the troops met 
with heavy opposition. Despite our artillery preparation which lasted two hours 
the enemy put down a heavy counter-barjage as soon as the attack started, caus- 
ing serious losses to the troops of the Fifth Division which passed through the 
Third to make the attack. The advance continued, however, up the slopes of 
Hills 260 and 271, meeting a raking fire from the woods on the east, from 
Romagne on the west and Bantheville. The infantry was halted at 10 a. m. after 
having advanced 1500 meters. The 32nd Division had been held up by the wire 
in front of Cote Dame Marie but its right finally took Romagne at 2 p. m. The 
42nd Division on the left of the 32nd got over Hill 288 by noon. Later in the day 
the right of the Fifth Division made a new attack and captured the Bois Pultiere. 
The Krienihilde Stellung as a result of these efforts had been pierced at its strong- 
est point, our troops having made an advance of two kilometers. 

In spite of the fact that the Fifth Division was much depleted as the result of 
this heavy fighting, one regiment being down to 259 men and six officers, a new 
attack was started on the morning of October 15th. These troops attempted to 
get into the Bois de Rappes but they were -unsuccessful and fell back to their orig- 
inal line. The following day an American patrol discovered that part of a battal- 
ion of the Fifth Division had reached the northern edge of the Bois de Rappes and 
had there been cut off. The patrol naturally passed on the command to withdraw 
and the detachment before it could be stopped fell back, thus giving up the Bois 
de Rappes. The division was now down to 175 officers and 3336 men. 

These positions were consolidated. Two days later a new attack was attempt- 
ed, the 32nd Division trying to get to Bantheville and the Fifth making another 
attempt to take the Bois de Rappes. Every effort to advance was checked by the 
enemy although the 32nd was able to get through the Bois de Bantheville where 
it was relieved by the 89th Division. Part of the Fifth Division was ordered to 
attack again on October 20th, its right regiment to take the Bois de Rappes in 
connection with an attack by elements of the Third Division on the Bois Clairs 
Chenes. This attack again failed although our troops succeeded in moving for- 
ward their line about 200 meters. The fourth and final attack on this position 
was made on October 21 and that evening the Fifth sent back the laconic word 
the Bois de Rappes had finally been taken and "riveted". The following day the 
division was relieved by the 90th. 

On the left of our battle line the 77th Division which had got some of its troops 
across the Aire was making slow progress in working around Grandpre, which 
was impossible to take by direct assault. The 78th Division relieved the 77th on 

— 33 — 

October 15th in these positions but this new unit was not more successful in getting 
forward. In the center troops of the 42nd which had reached the slopes of the 
hill known as the Cote de Chatillon on October 14th were stopped there by the 
Third Prussian Guard which held out to the last man in its advanced positions 
just below the crest. Finally on October 16 the 42nd Division in a whirlwind attack 
took the crest of Chatillon Hill as well as Musard Farm. The 78th Division on 
this date captured Grandpre. Its infantry had got into the town several times 
but each time had been driven out. The right of the 78th then pushed forward 
into the Bois des Loges. The enemy evacuated the wood and as soon as our 
troops filtered through it drenched it with gas so that we had to withdraw. He 
then reoccupied ttee wood and it took three days hard fighting to retake these 

On October 20th our line was everywhere north of the Aire from Grendpre 
to the ridges south of Landres et St. Georges and with the exception of the salient 
which included the Bois de Bantheville it continued in a generally straight line to 
the Meuse north of Brieulles. The French on our left had stormed the heights 
opposite Vouziers and had advanced about three kilometers east of the Aisne. 

From this date till November 1 our troops occupied themselves with consolidat- 
ing the line they had reached and straightening it out by small local actions. On 
October 23rd the 78th Division captured Talma Farm in the face of strong resist- 
ance. The enemy got back into Grandpre again but was driven out. The village 
of Champigneulles, northeast of Grandpre, was taken but lost. The following day 
on the right of the army sector we succeeded by various small operations in forc- 
ing the enemy back over the Andon River. Our line was thus secure all along the 
front and we held positions from which a new general attack could be launched. 


(Third Phase - Nov. 1 - Nov. 11.) 

The Third Phase of the Meuse-Argonne Battle was the natural result of previous 
operations, for the piercing of the enemy's line and second, the terrific fighting on 
every hill and in every wood which wore down the enemy's strength and compelled 
him in the face of the new attack to begin a general retreat. The enemy was 
evidently very nervous and according to captured documents he had expected our 
new attack but was uncertain as to when it would come. On the first day of this 
Third Phase prisoners were taken from more than ten divisions. They said that 
they had been ordered to hold at all cost as a piercing of the line at this point 
would be fatal. They also said that the intention of the German Command had 
been to withdraw behind the Meuse but at the last moment plans had been changed 
as the German Commander-in-Chief believed that the Americans might hold up 
their offensive in view of the approaching armistice negotiations. 

On the morning of November 1 our troops occupied the heights northeast of 
Grandpre, the Bois de Bantheville and Hill 288 as well as the heights south of the 
Andon. We had been held up in the center by the remaining portions of the 
Kriemhilde Stellung, south of the villages of St. Georges and Landres et S. Georges. 
A captured enemy map showed us that the Germans had still another line of 
defence more or less organized known as the Freya Stellung. The divisions in 
line on this date from left to right were the 78th, the 77th, the 80th, the 2nd, the 89th, 
and the 5th. On October 30th a patrol of the Fifth Division had entered and 
cleaned up Brieulles thus straightening the line to the Meuse. This part of the 
line had not changed since September 27th as these positions were under direct 
artillery fire from across the Meuse. 

The objective consisted of a salient approximately eight kilometers deep, the 

— 31 — 

Fiftli Corps foriiiing the point of the salient. On the left our troops were to avoid 
•entering the Bois de Bourgogne which had been thoroughly soaked with yperite gas. 

The attack was launched at 5:30 on the morning of November 1 preceded by 
two hours intense artillery preparation. The reply of the enemy artillery was 
feeble. Our advance was so rapid that we overran the positions where he had 
expected to hold us while withdrawing tlie main part of his forces. In the center 
w'e progressed deep into the Freya Stellung and these important gains of the first 
day made possible the development of the attack to the right and left. In the 
center we advanced between live and six kilometers, capturing the villages of 
St. Georges, Landres et St. Georges, Imecourt, Landreville, Chennery, Bayonville, 
Remonville, Andevanne and Clery le Grand. The total nunibei' of prisoners for the 
first day was 3,602. 

For the attack the 5th Division on the right was to act as a pivot until the 
unit on its left, the 90th, reached the Meuse (which was not until November 3). In 
case of a general withdrawal the Fifth was to cross the Meuse and advance up the 
heights on the other side. 

The remarkable fact about the second day's operations was that greater gains 
were made than on the first day, something which had not happened before in an 
attack on the Western Front. We drove the enemy from the town of Buzancy 
(80th Division), the chief German railhead for this region. To the right we advanced 
as far as Fosse, eleven kilometers from the starting point and four kilometers 
beyond the Freya Stellung which had been pierced at Bayonville. 

The attack by the 89th Division north of Bantheville Wood on November 1 
began well, the infantry following the barrage closely but on the following days 
it slowed up considerably. This was due partly to the disorganization within the 
division and partly to the severe artillery and machine-gun resistance by the enemy. 
The town of Barricourt was captured on November 3 although it had been sur- 
rounded the day before. The First Division was ordered to pass through the 
89th Division but the commander of the latter, General Wright, asked permission 
to keep his troops in line. From the heights north of Tailly large convoys of 
Germans could be seen leaving Stenay and many vehicles crossing the river behind 
Laneuville. These troops were subjected to a heavy fire but the German rear 
guards succeeded in holding off our main forces at this point until their troops had 
crossed the river. Beaufort was captured on November 4th and in the following 
• days units of the division succeeded in crossing the Meuse over the partially 
destroyed bridges. 

The Second Division qn the left of the 89th accomplished one of the most remark- 
able feats of the war. On the night of November 3rd after the Marine Brigade had 
broken through the enemy's positions the 9th and 23rd Infantry Regts. were formed 
in column on the road leading north to Beaumont. The 9th Infantry led the 
column with the usual advance guard and flank patrols. Beyond this protection 
there was nothing to prevent the entire brigade from being cut off. It marched 
all night long straight through the enemy lines for a distance of about eight kilo- 
meters, through the Bois de Belval, the Bois du Four and the Bois du Fort Gerache. 
The enemy was taken completely by surprise. A few machine-guns opened up on 
the column but they were soon silenced by details sent out for this purpose. Other 
machine-gunners were found asleep at their guns and captured. Many details of 
enemy troops passing up and down the road were captured and sent to the rear 
while at La Tuilerie Farm the advance guards found the place occupied by German 
officers sitting around tables with lights burning. They were thrown into dismay 
by the appearance of American troops whom they thought were many kilometers 
to the south. The German artillery in the meantime on both sides of the road 
continued firing to the rear but the advancing infantry paid no attention to it. 

This rapid advance of the 9th and 23rd Inf. succeeded so well that the troops on 

— 35 — 

both flanks which had been held up were able to move forward. The line was 
completely broken through and the en^emy soon was everywhere in rapid retreat. 

On the left the enemy's resistance which had held us up on the first day gave 
way before the repeated attacks of the 78th and 77th Divisions and the enemy began 
to fall back so rapidly that his retreat bordered on a rout. Our troops in this sector 
in order to keep up with the enemy were loaded onto motor trucks and rushed 
forward. Only by so doing were they able to keep contact. The enemy was com- 
pelled to abandon completely the Bois de Bourgogne. Outflanked by the French 
on the west the Germans withdrew hastily to the outskirts of Le Chesne, 17 kilo- 
meters to the north. French and American troops joined hands at Chatillon sur Bar 
and thus the last important bulwark which guarded the great German voie de 
rocade was cleared. 

On the right we pushed rapidly down the left bank of the Meuse harassing the 
enemy's retreat at every step. Some idea of the enemy's confusion can be gained 
from the fact that a runner was captured who had been sent up from a point twenty 
kilometers behind the line to learn why the line was breaking. Our advance in 
three days had reached a depth of 18 kilometers. The number of prisoners had 
risen to over 5,000 with 100 guns. 

On November 4th troops of the 80th Division had reached the heights two kilo- 
meters south of Beaumont where they began to encounter the first organized oppos- 
ition. This stand appeared to be only temporary, a desperate attempt to hold 
us back while the main German forces should get across the Meuse. The towns 
and roads behind the enemy's lines were crowded with retreating troops and 
transports. The enemy's confusion was great and there were all indications that 
he vvas throwing in his last reserves in an attempt to straighten out the great 
tangle behind his lines. Prisoners were taken south of Beaumont while moving 
up to support their leading regiment which our troops had in the meantime over- 

The Fifth Division, fulfilling its role as pivot of the entire operation, learned 
on November 2nd from its patrols east of the Meuse and from the developments 
further west that the enemy was v/ithdrawing. Preparations were at once made 
for crossing the river and this proved to be one of the most difficult tasks any 
troops in this battle had had to face. After working around the edge of the horse- 
shoe bluff north of Brieulles and taking Doulcon so that the division front 
extended for 13 kilometers along the river an attempt was made to cross the Meuse 
on the night of November 3-4. In the face of a heavy fire two companies got across 
at Brieulles but the others could not follow. These two companies dug in and held 
to their precarious position. 

On November 4th beginning at 4 p. m. another crossing was attempted at Clery 
le Petit. The first bridge was destroyed by the German artillery and the attempt 
failed. Meanwhile after dark the two companies of the 6th Infantry already across 
at Brieulles succeeded by a surprise attack in getting over the canal and organiz- 
ing the bridgehead. Just below this point the third battalion of the 6th and 3d By 
11 Infantry crossed the river on rafts, duckboards, with poles and ropes and by 
swimming and established itself frTthe Bois de Chatillon and Hill 260. The effect 
of this was immediately seen as on the following morning, November 5, the Bois 
de Chatillon was cleared of the enemy and the left of the Fifth Division was able to 
cross the river. By 8 o'clock artillery bridges had been put down at Brieulles and 
the division had a secure hold on the east bank. The villages of Dun sur Meuse 
and Milly were captured so that the net result of the day was the crossing of the 
river and the capture of the whole line of heights from Milly to Vilosnes. 

On the extreme left of the Army sector the First Division on November 6th re- 
lieved the 80th while the 42nd relieved the 78th. These two divisions, making up 
the corps, reached on this date the banks overlooking the Meuse from the West of 
Remillv through Aillicourt to Mouzon. About 2 P. M. November 6th the Command- 

— :^u - 

ing General of the Fifth Army Corps came in person to the Headquarters of the 
First Division and gave a v^rljal order for the First Division to march at once on 
Sedan with a mission of attacking and seizing the city. The First Division in 
its advance met part of the 42nd Division in Bulson. On November 7th it encount- 
ered the enemy on the front Bulson - Chehery - Omicourt. He was immediately- 
attacked and driven northward, our troops making an advance of from two and 
one half to four kilometers. Meanwhile patrols of the 42nd penetrated to the edge 
of the village of Wadelincourt across the river from Sedan and one kilometer dist- 
ant. In the afternoon of November 7th the First Division was withdrawn to the 
line La Besace - Autrecourt. It had marched all of two nights and part of a third, 
covering an average distance of 53 kilometers in the mud, darkness and congest- 
ion of traffic. In addition it had fought all of two days. 

On the right the Fifth Division continued its attack on November 6th. Driv- 
ing back the enemy's rear guards this unit pushed forward with wonderful speed 
and captured Murvaux while its left unit reached the Cote St. Germain which it 
was able to hold. The enemy was thus driven from the Northern peak of the 
heights of the Meuse. The advance continued on the following day, the Fifth 
Division being far ahead of the units on its flank. The 90th had not yet got 
across the river and the 17th French Corps on the right which was trying to con- 
verge on Brcheville did not succeed in getting forward until this day. 

The Fifth Division patrols on November 9th reported that the enemy was in 
general retreat and an advance in force was ordered. The villages of Louppy and 
Removille were captured and the one Battalion of 11th Infantry regiment 
swam the Loison and captured Jametz. The French on the right took Damvillers 
while two companies on the left of the Fifth Division pushing North captured 
Mouzay, this movement enabling the 90th Division to cross the river. On Nov- 
ember 10th the Foret de Woevre, a "jungle of trees and heavy undergrowth with 
roads knee-deep with mud" was mopped up and here the division stood at the 
signing of the armistice. These troops had stormed the heights east of the Meuse, 
liad pushed a \yide salient to a depth of 15 kilometers into the enemy's line and 
had contributed materially to the advance of the 90th Division on its left and that 
unit's capture of Stenay. The Fifth was five kilometers in advance of the troops 
on its left and two kilometers beyond the troops on its right. This division's 
report says "its operations form a brilliant exam.ple of what the American soldier 
can do in an emergency when he must go on to the utmost extent of his power". 

The 32nd Division moved up to the right of the Fifth Division on November 
10th, taking over the sector of the 15th French Colonial Division. It advanced 
several kilometers west of Brandeville in a fog that day and a new attack having 
been ordered on November 11th when the armistice was signed. 

— 87 — 


The 17th French Corps, commanded by General Claudel, which was part of 
the French Second Army holding the Hills north of Vei^dun, w^as left in place 
when the First American Army took over the Meuse-Argonne sector. One Amer- 
ican division, the 29th, was assigned to it for use when the situation should so 
develop that the Corps would come into action. 

It was the general plan to make the main attack West of the Meuse while the 
17th French Corps on the east bank held and protected the flank. However as 
pointed out in the preceding recital of the battle out troops as they advanced on 
the west bank of the Meuse suffered severely from machine-gun and artillery fire 
coming from across the river and it soon became necessary to push forward the 
line east of the Meuse so as to obviate this menace. This operation was a diffi- 
cult one, boldly conceived and boldly carried out. The Germans had massed their 
forces east and northeast of Verdun to protect Metz as they had believed that our 
main attack was coming in that direction. Just north of Verdun from the Meuse 
eastward they had placed Austrian troops in line and it was against this weaker 
part of the line that General Claudel struck. He thus violated the principle of 
attack, that is, instead of attacking perpendicularly to the axis of the enemy's 
line, he attacked across the enemy's main front. In order to do this the 29th 
American division was brought in behind the 18th French division and then spread 
along the dry canal bed near Samogneux with the Meuse at its back. Surprise 
was the principal element depended upon. 

On the morning of the attack, October 8th, the Corps front held as follows: 
33rd division (on the west bank of the Meuse) ; 29th, 18th French, 26th French. 
The 29th division was to seize the high ground up to the Etrayes Ridge and the 
series of intervening hills and woods, then swing northeast and east in order to 
push the enemy entirely from the heights of the Meuse into the Woevre plain, at 
the same time advancing to the strong position of Herbebois and to Flabas. 

The attack was made without artillery preparation and was unusually success- 
ful. On that first day the 29th division advanced from five to six kilometers. 
The 116th Inf. took the'formidable height of Malbrouck Hill and pushed on through 
the thick woods of Conseuvoye in the face of strong machine-gun fire. This 
regiment reached the northern edge of the woods by noon but the division on its 
right was held up in the Bois d'Haumont. The enemy's artillery fire on the Bois 
de Consenvoye was so heavy that the woods was cleaned out of underbrush and 
at the end of the division's stay in the sector so denuded that it was possible to see 
from one end to the other. This artillery fire came principally from the ridges 
north of La Grande Montagne and from the Bois d'Etrayes. 

The 33rd division was required to cross over the Meuse at Brabant and Consen- 
voye. This crossing was dependent upon the success further east. Bridges were 
built at these two places in broad daylight under unceasing artillery fire. In 
building the Consenvoye bridge (156 feet long in 16 feet depth of water) the men 
worked five and one-half hours under a shell fire which fell at the rate of ninety 
shells per minute. They also had to wear their gas masks. All material for the 
bridge had to be carried up in broad daylight in plain view of the enemy. Both 
bridges were up on time and by 9 A. M. the 33rd began crossing the river, its 
artillery protecting it. The troops which got across dug in for the night on the 
southern edge of the Bois de Chaumes. 

By the evening of October 9 five battalions of the 33rd had got across the 
river. The infantry reached the further edge of the Bois de Chaumes by noon 
and patrols pushed as far as Sivry. Late in the day the Germans counter- 
attacked with considerable force against the right of the 33rd and particularly 
against the 29th. There was great difficulty in maintaining contact between the 
two divisions. This lack of contact became more noticeable on the following day 

— :{.s - 

when one roginiont of the 33rd, having advanced to the edge east of Sivry, was 
forced to dig in in order to protect its flank. The troops of the 29th on that 
day were under a terrific concentration of enemy fire. They made a new attack 
in order to get beyond the Molleville clearing but on the right no advance could 
be made. The left of the division succeeded in joining up with the line of the 
33rd in the Bois Plat-Chene. This wood then became the target of the enemy's 

The 33rd Division held its positions without further advance until October 
22nd when it was relieved. The 29th, however, struggled valiantly to get forward 
under an ever increasing concentration of fire from guns of all caliber. On 
October 11th a new attack made no progress. The following day the lUth Inf., 
acting under the orders of the 18th French division on its immediate right, attack- 
ed the Bois d'Ormont from the south. Later the 113th Inf. attacked from the 
northwest and reached the edge of the wood. In the face of raking artillery 
and machine-gun fire these troops were unable to hold their positions. The 
Ormont Wood stood on a commanding height from which the enemy had direct 
observation as far as the Meuse. He realized the importance of this position and 
the threat that lay in our attempted encircling movement to the Northwest. On 
October 13th the enemy delivered two violent counter-attacks on the 113th but our 
troops held to their position. 

This regiment now returned to the command of the 29th division and at 9.30 
A. M. October 15 began an attack against Molleville Farm and up to the ridge of 
La Grande Montagne. It reached its objective on the left but was held up on the 
right. On the following day the right regiment was relieved at the edge of La 
Grande Montagne by the 26th division. 

There was no further attack in this region until October 23 when the 29th 
Division assisted by one regiment of the 26th successfully carried the Etrayes 
Ridge, finally occupying the Pylone, the observatory on its crest. The following 
day the 29th Division repulsed a counter-attack while the 26th in local fighting 
attempted to get through the Bois de Belleu. On its left it advanced 500 meters 
into the wood and there repulsed three German counter-attacks, the fourth, 
however, driving our troops out. Not to be dismayed elements of the 26th moved 
forward again during the night and succeeded in reaching the Northern edge of 
the wood. Further to the right two battalions made two attacks against Hill 
360 the crest of the Bois d'Ormont. They took the hill but were unable to hold it 
because of the heavy fire. The enemy had filtered back into the Bois de Belleu 
and on October 27th the 26th Division assisted by the right of the 29th launched 
a general assault which finally cleared the wood by 4 P. M. that day. Advance 
troops got into the Bois d'Ormont but had to fall back, the enemy bombardment 
according to this division's report "surpassing in intensity any before experienced". 

The 29th Division between October 28 and 30 was relieved by the 79th which 
had just been shifted over to the right by the 33rd Division, this latter unit 
coming up on the main line of the Meuse heights from Fresnes to a point one 
kilometer from Woel. The 79th on November 1 also took over part of the 26th 
Division's sector, the latter moving to the front Bois d'Ormont to Beaumont. 

The 26th Division patrols on the morning of November 9 reported that the 
enemy was retreating and the line began a general advance. On the following 
day both the 26th and 33rd Divisions attacked, the former making only slight 
progress because of strong resistance from Herbebois and La Chaume. The latter 
unit captured the village of Marcheville and the Bois des Harville. Early in the 
morning of November 11th the 33rd Division attacked again, capturing Riaville, 
Pintheville, Maizeray and Harville. It was in these positions -when the armistice 
was signed. On the front of the 26th an attack had been ordered for 9.30 o'clock 
but the signing of the armistice prevented it. 

3'.) — 

In conclusion to the account of the Meuse-Argonne Battle it seems fitting to 
^uote the following General Ord&r from the Commander-in-Chief, dated Novem- 
jer 12th: 

General Orders 

No. 203. France, Nov. 12, 1918. 

"The enemy has capitulated. It is fitting that I address myself in 
thanks directly to the officers and soldiers of the American Expeditionary 
Forces who by their heroic efforts have made possible this glorius result. 
Our armies, hurriedly raised and hastily trained, met a veteran enemy, 
and by courage, discipline and skill always defeated him. Without com- 
plaint you have endured incessant toil, privation and danger. You have 
seen many of your comrades make the supreme sacrifice that freedom 
may live. I thank you for the patience and courage with which you have 
endured. I congratulate you upon the splendid fruits of victory which 
your heroism and the blood of our gallant dead are now presenting to our 
nation. Your deeds will live forever on the most glorious pages of Amer- 
ica's history". 

G.H.Q.A.E.F 98, — 227.9.19. — 2 M. 


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