The United States At War--in France

: Winning A Cause World War Stories

Adapted with a few omissions and changes in language from the report of

General Pershing made November 20, 1918, to the Secretary of War.

Upon receiving my orders, I selected a small staff and proceeded to

Europe in order to become familiar with conditions at the earliest

possible moment.

The warmth of our reception in England and France was only equalled by

the readiness of th
leaders of the Allied armies to assist us in every

way. We met and considered the best ways of working together.

The French and British armies could not be increased in strength and they

had been unable to drive the enemy from his systems of trenches in

Belgium and France. It was therefore necessary to plan for an American

force large enough to turn the scale in favor of the Allies. The problem

before us was one of the very greatest difficulty. The first step was

the formation of a General Staff and I gave this my early attention.

A well organized General Staff to put into effect the plans of the

Commander in Chief is essential to a successful modern army. However

capable divisions, battalions, and companies may be as units, success

would be impossible unless they worked together. A well organized

General Staff trained for war has not hitherto existed in our army.

Under the Commander in Chief this staff must carry out the policy of the

army as a whole and direct all the details of its preparation, support,

and operation. As models to aid us, we had the veteran French General

Staff and the experience of the British who had formed a staff to meet

the demands of a great army. By selecting from each the features that

best met our needs and helped by our own early experience in the war, our

great General Staff system was completed.

The General Staff is divided into five groups, each with its chief. G. 1

is in charge of the organization and equipment of troops, replacements,

overseas shipment, and welfare associations; G. 2 has censorship,

gathering and disseminating information, particularly concerning the

enemy, preparation of maps, and all similar subjects; G. 3 is charged

with all strategic studies and plans and the supervision of the movement

of troops and of fighting; G. 4 co-ordinates questions of army supply,

necessary construction, transport for troops going into battle, of

hospitals and the movement of the sick and wounded; G. 5 supervises the

various schools and has general direction of education and training.

It was decided that our combat divisions should consist of four regiments

of infantry of 3,000 men each with three battalions to a regiment, and

four companies of 250 men each to a battalion, and of an artillery

brigade of three regiments, a machine gun battalion, an engineer

regiment, a trench-mortar battery; a signal battalion, wagon trains, and

the headquarters staffs and military police. These with medical and

other units, made a total of over 28,000 men, or about double the size of

a French or German division. Each corps consisted of six divisions--four

combat and one depot and one replacement division--and also two regiments

of cavalry. Each army consisted of from three to five corps. With four

divisions fully trained, a corps could take over an American sector with

two divisions in line and two in reserve, with the depot and replacement

divisions prepared to fill the gaps in the ranks.

Our purpose was to prepare an American force which should be able to take

the offensive in every respect. Accordingly, the development of a

self-reliant infantry by thorough drill in the use of the rifle and in

the tactics of open warfare was always uppermost. The plan of training

after arrival in France allowed a division one month for acclimatization

and instruction in small units from battalions down, a second month in

quiet trench sectors by battalion, and a third month after it came out of

the trenches when it should be trained as a complete division in war of


Very early a system of schools was outlined and started which should have

the advantage of instruction by officers direct from the front. At the

great school centre at Langres, one of the first to be organized, was the

staff school, where the principles of general staff work, as laid down in

our own organization, were taught to carefully selected officers. Men in

the ranks who had shown qualities of leadership were sent to the school

of candidates for commissions. A school of the line taught younger

officers the principles of leadership, tactics, and the use of the

different weapons. In the artillery school, at Saumur, young officers

were taught the fundamental principles of modern artillery; while at

Issoudun an immense plant was built for training cadets in aviation.

These and other schools, with their well-considered curriculums for

training in every branch of our organization, were co-ordinated in a

manner best to develop an efficient army out of willing and industrious

young men, many of whom had not before known even the rudiments of

military technique. Both Marshal Haig and General Petain placed officers

and men at our disposal for instructional purposes, and we are deeply

indebted for the opportunities given to profit by their veteran


The place the American Army should take on the western front was to a

large extent influenced by the vital questions of communication and

supply. The northern ports of France were crowded by the British Armies'

shipping and supplies while the southern ports, though otherwise at our

service, had not adequate port facilities for our purposes, and these we

should have to build. The already overtaxed railway system behind the

active front in Northern France would not be available for us as lines of

supply, and those leading from the southern ports of Northeastern France

would be unequal to our needs without much new construction. Practically

all warehouses, supply depots and regulating stations must be provided by

fresh constructions. While France offered us such material as she had to

spare after a drain of three years, enormous quantities of material had

to be brought across the Atlantic.

With such a problem any hesitation or lack of definiteness in making

plans might cause failure even with victory within our grasp. Moreover,

plans as great as our national purpose and resources would bring

conviction of our power to every soldier in the front line, to the

nations associated with us in the war, and to the enemy. The tonnage for

material for necessary construction for the supply of an army of three

and perhaps four million men would require a mammoth program of

shipbuilding at home, and miles of dock construction in France, with a

corresponding large project for additional railways and for storage


All these considerations led to the conclusion that if we were to handle

and supply the great forces deemed essential to win the war we must

utilize the southern ports of France--Bordeaux, La Pallice, St. Nazaire,

and Brest--and the comparatively unused railway systems leading therefrom

to the northeast. This would mean the use of our forces against the

enemy somewhere in that direction, but the great depots of supply must be

centrally located, preferably in the area included by Tours, Bourges, and

Chateauroux, so that our armies could be supplied with equal facility

wherever they might be serving on the western front.

To build up such a system there were talented men in the Regular Army,

but more experts were necessary than the army could furnish. Thanks to

the patriotic spirit of our people at home, there came from civil life

men trained for every sort of work involved in building and managing the

organization necessary to handle and transport such an army and keep it

supplied. With such assistance the construction and general development

of our plans have kept pace with the growth of the forces, and the

Service of Supply is now able to discharge from ships and move 45,000

tons daily, besides transporting troops and material in the conduct of

active operations.

As to organization, all the administrative and supply services, except

the Adjutant General's, Inspector General's, and Judge Advocate General's

Departments, which remain at general headquarters, have been transferred

to the headquarters of the services of supplies at Tours under a

commanding General responsible to the Commander-in-Chief for supply of

the armies. The Chief Quartermaster, Chief Surgeon, Chief Signal

Officer, Chief of Ordnance, Chief of Air Service, Chief of Chemical

Warfare, the general purchasing agent in all that pertains to questions

of procurement and supply, the Provost Marshal General in the maintenance

of order in general, the Director General of Transportation in all that

affects such matters, and the Chief Engineer in all matters of

administration and supply, are subordinate to the Commanding General of

the Service of Supply, who, assisted by a staff especially organized for

the purpose, is charged with the administrative co-ordination of all

these services.

The transportation department under the Service of Supply directs the

operation, maintenance, and construction of railways, the operation of

terminals, the unloading of ships, and transportation of material to

warehouses or to the front. Its functions make necessary the most

intimate relationship between our organization and that of the French,

with the practical result that our transportation department has been

able to improve materially the operations of railways generally.

Constantly laboring under a shortage of rolling stock, the transportation

department has nevertheless been able by efficient management to meet

every emergency.

The Engineer Corps is charged with all construction, including light

railways and roads. It has planned and constructed the many projects

required, the most important of which are the new wharves at Bordeaux and

Nantes, and the immense storage depots at La Pallice, Mointoir, and

Glevres, besides innumerable hospitals and barracks in various ports of

France. These projects have all been carried on by phases, keeping pace

with our needs. The Forestry Service under the Engineer Corps has cut

the greater part of the timber and railway ties required.

To meet the shortage of supplies from America, due to lack of shipping,

the representatives of the different supply departments were constantly

in search of available material and supplies in Europe. In order to

co-ordinate these purchases and to prevent competition between our

departments, a general purchasing agency was created early in our

experience to co-ordinate our purchases and, if possible, induce our

allies to apply the principle among the allied armies. While there was

no authority for the general use of appropriations, this was met by

grouping the purchasing representatives of the different departments

under one control, charged with the duty of consolidating requisitions

and purchases. Our efforts to extend the principle have been signally

successful, and all purchases for the allied armies are now on an

equitable and co-operative basis. Indeed, it may be said that the work

of this bureau has been thoroughly efficient and businesslike.

Our entry into the war found us with little of the equipment necessary

for its conduct in the modern sense. Among our most important

deficiencies in material were artillery, aviation, and tanks. In order

to meet our requirements as rapidly as possible, we accepted the offer of

the French Government to provide us with the necessary artillery

equipment of seventy-fives, one fifty-five millimeter howitzer, and one

fifty-five G. P. F. gun, from their own factories for each of the thirty

divisions. The wisdom of this course is fully demonstrated by the fact

that, although we soon began the manufacture of these classes of guns at

home, there were no guns of the calibres mentioned manufactured in

America on our front at the date the armistice was signed. The only guns

of these types produced at home thus far received in France are 109

seventy-five millimeter guns.

In aviation we were in the same situation, and here again the French

Government came to our aid until our own aviation program should be under

way. We obtained from the French the necessary planes for training our

personnel, and they have provided us with a total of 2,676 pursuit,

observation, and bombing planes. The first airplanes received from home

arrived in May, and altogether we have received 1,379. The first

American squadron completely equipped by American production, including

airplanes, crossed the German lines on Aug. 7, 1918. As to tanks, we

were also compelled to rely upon the French. Here, however, we were less

fortunate, for the reason that the French production could barely meet

the requirements of their own armies.

It should be fully realized that the French Government has always taken a

most liberal attitude, and has been most anxious to give us every

possible assistance in meeting our deficiencies in these as well as in

other respects. Our dependence upon France for artillery, aviation, and

tanks was, of course, due to the fact that our industries had not been

exclusively devoted to military production. All credit is due our own

manufacturers for their efforts to meet our requirements, as at the time

the armistice was signed we were able to look forward to the early supply

of practically all our necessities from our own factories. The welfare

of the troops touches my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief to the

mothers and fathers and kindred of the men who came to France in the

impressionable period of youth. They could not have the privilege

accorded European soldiers during their periods of leave of visiting

their families and renewing their home ties. Fully realizing that the

standard of conduct that should be established for them must have a

permanent influence in their lives and on the character of their future

citizenship, the Red Cross, the Young Men's Christian Association,

Knights of Columbus, the Salvation Army, and the Jewish Welfare Board, as

aids in this work, were encouraged in every possible way. The fact that

our soldiers, in a land of different customs and language, have borne

themselves in a manner in keeping with the cause for which they fought,

is due not only to the efforts in their behalf, but much more to their

high ideals, their discipline, and their innate sense of self-respect.

It should be recorded, however, that the members of these welfare

societies have been untiring in their desire to be of real service to our

officers and men. The patriotic devotion of these representative men and

women has given a new significance to the Golden Rule, and we owe to them

a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

During our period of training in the trenches some of our divisions had

engaged the enemy in local combats, the most important of which was

Seicheprey by the 26th on April 20, in the Toul sector, but none had

taken part in action as a unit. The 1st Division, which had passed

through the preliminary stages of training, had gone to the trenches for

its first period of instruction at the end of October, and by March 21,

when the German offensive in Picardy began, we had four divisions with

experience in the trenches, all of which were equal to any demands of

battle action. The crisis which this offensive developed was such that

our occupation of an American sector must be postponed.

On March 28 I placed at the disposal of Marshal Foch, who had been agreed

upon as Commander-in-Chief o the Allied Armies, all of our forces, to be

used as he might decide. At his request the 1st Division was transferred

from the Toul sector to a position in reserve at Chaumont en Vexin. As

German superiority in numbers required prompt action, an agreement was

reached at the Abbeville conference of the Allied Premiers and commanders

and myself on May 2 by which British shipping was to transport ten

American divisions to the British Army area, where they were to be

trained and equipped, and additional British shipping was to be provided

for as many divisions as possible for use elsewhere.

On April 26 the 1st Division had gone into the line in the Montdidier

salient on the Picardy battlefront. Tactics had been suddenly

revolutionized to those of open warfare, and our men, confident of the

results of their training, were eager for the test. On the morning of

May 28 this division attacked the commanding German position in its

front, taking with splendid dash the town of Cantigny and all other

objectives, which were organized and held steadfastly against vicious

counterattacks and galling artillery fire. Although local, this

brilliant action had an electrical effect, as it demonstrated our

fighting qualities under extreme battle conditions, and also that the

enemy's troops were not altogether invincible.

The Germans' Aisne offensive, which began on May 27, had advanced rapidly

toward the River Marne and Paris, and the Allies faced a crisis equally

as grave as that of the Picardy offensive in March. Again every

available man was placed at Marshal Foch's disposal, and the 3d Division,

which had just come from its preliminary training in the trenches, was

hurried to the Marne. Its motorized machine-gun battalion preceded the

other units and successfully held the bridgehead at the Marne, opposite

Chateau-Thierry. The 2d Division, in reserve near Montdidier, was sent

by motor trucks and other available transport to check the progress of

the enemy toward Paris. The division attacked and retook the town and

railroad station at Bouresches and sturdily held its ground against the

enemy's best guard divisions. In the battle of Belleau Wood, which

followed, our men proved their superiority and gained a strong tactical

position, with far greater loss to the enemy than to ourselves. On July

1, before the 2d was relieved, it captured the village of Vaux with most

splendid precision.

Meanwhile our 2d Corps, under Major Gen. George W. Read, had been

organized for the command of our divisions with the British, which were

held back in training areas or assigned to second-line defenses. Five of

the ten divisions were withdrawn from the British area in June, three to

relieve divisions in Lorraine and in the Vosges and two to the Paris area

to join the group of American divisions which stood between the city and

any further advance of the enemy in that direction.

The great June-July troop movement from the States was well under way,

and, although these troops were to be given some preliminary training

before being put into action, their very presence warranted the use of

all the older divisions in the confidence that we did not lack reserves.

Elements of the 42d Division were in the line east of Rheims against the

German offensive of July 15, and held their ground unflinchingly. On the

right flank of this offensive four companies of the 28th Division were in

position in face of the advancing waves of the German infantry. The 3d

Division was holding the bank of the Marne from the bend east of the

mouth of the Surmelin to the west of Mezy, opposite Chateau-Thierry,

where a large force of German infantry sought to force a passage under

support of powerful artillery concentrations and under cover of smoke

screens. A single regiment of the 3d wrote one of the most brilliant

pages in our military annals on this occasion. It prevented the crossing

at certain points on its front while, on either flank, the Germans, who

had gained a footing, pressed forward. Our men, firing in three

directions, met the German attacks with counter attacks at critical

points and succeeded in throwing two German divisions into complete

confusion, capturing 600 prisoners.

The great force of the German Chateau-Thierry offensive established the

deep Marne salient, but the enemy was taking chances, and the

vulnerability of this pocket to attack might be turned to his

disadvantage. Seizing this opportunity to support my conviction, every

division with any sort of training was made available for use in a

counter offensive. The place of honor in the thrust toward Soissons on

July 18 was given to our 1st and 2d Divisions in company with chosen

French divisions. Without the usual brief warning of a preliminary

bombardment, the massed French and American artillery, firing by the map,

laid down its rolling barrage at dawn while the infantry began its

charge. The tactical handling of our troops under these trying

conditions was excellent throughout the action. The enemy brought up

large numbers of reserves and made a stubborn defense both with machine

guns and artillery, but through five days' fighting the 1st Division

continued to advance until it had gained the heights above Soissons and

captured the village of Berzy-le-Sec. The 2d Division took Beau Repaire

Farm and Vierzy in a very rapid advance and reached a position in front

of Tigny at the end of its second day. These two divisions captured

7,000 prisoners and over 100 pieces of artillery.

The 26th Division, which, with a French division, was under command of

our 1st Corps, acted as a pivot of the movement toward Soissons. On the

18th it took the village of Torcy, while the 3d Division was crossing the

Marne in pursuit of the retiring enemy. The 26th attacked again on the

21st and the enemy withdrew past the Chateau-Thierry-Soissons road. The

3d Division, continuing its progress, took the heights of Mont St. Pere

and the villages of Charteves and Jaulgonne in the face of both

machine-gun and artillery fire.

On the 24th, after the Germans had fallen back from Trugny and Epieds,

our 42d Division, which had been brought over from the Champagne,

relieved the 26th, and, fighting its way through the Foret de Fere,

overwhelmed the nest of machine guns in its path. By the 27th it had

reached the Ourcq, whence the 3d and 4th Divisions were already

advancing, while the French divisions with which we were co-operating

were moving forward at other points.

The 3d Division had made its advance into Roncheres Wood on the 29th and

was relieved for rest by a brigade of the 32d. The 42d and 32d undertook

the task of conquering the heights beyond Cierges, the 42d capturing

Sergy and the 32d capturing Hill 230, both American divisions joining in

the pursuit of the enemy to the Vesle, and thus the operation of reducing

the salient was finished. Meanwhile the 42d was relieved by the 4th, and

the 32d by the 28th, while the 77th Division took up a position on the

Vesle. The operations of these divisions on the Vesle were under the 3d

Corps, Major Gen. Robert L. Bullard commanding.

With the reduction of the Marne salient, we could look forward to the

concentration of our divisions in our own zone. In view of the

forthcoming operation against the St. Mihiel salient, which had long been

planned as our first offensive action on a large scale, the First Army

was organized on Aug. 10 under my personal command. While American units

had held different sectors along the western front, there had not been up

to this time, for obvious reasons, a distinct American sector; but, in

view of the important parts the American forces were now to play, it was

necessary to take over a permanent portion of the line. Accordingly, on

Aug. 30, the line beginning at Port sur Seille, east of the Moselle and

extending to the west through St. Mihiel, thence north to a point

opposite Verdun, was placed under my command. The American sector was

afterward extended across the Meuse to the western edge of the Argonne

Forest, and included the 2d Colonial French, which held the point of the

salient, and the 17th French Corps, which occupied the heights above


The preparation for a complicated operation against the formidable

defenses in front of us included the assembling of divisions and of corps

and army artillery, transport, aircraft, tanks, ambulances, the location

of hospitals, and the molding together of all the elements of a great

modern army with its own railheads, supplied directly by our own Service

of Supply. The concentration for this operation, which was to be a

surprise, involved the movement, mostly at night, of approximately

600,000 troops, and required for its success the most careful attention

to every detail.

The French were generous in giving us assistance in corps and army

artillery and we were confident from the start of our superiority over

the enemy in guns of all calibres. Our heavy guns were able to reach

Metz and to interfere seriously with German rail movements. The French

Independent Air Force was placed under my command, which, together with

the British bombing squadrons and our air forces, gave us the largest

assembly of aviators that had ever been engaged in one operation on the

western front.

From Les Eparges around the nose of the salient at St. Mihiel to the

Moselle River the line was, roughly, forty miles long and situated on

commanding ground greatly strengthened by artificial defenses. Our 1st

Corps, (82d, 90th, 5th, and 2d Divisions,) under command of Major Gen.

Hunter Liggett, resting its right on Pont-a-Mousson, with its left

joining our 3d Corps, (the 89th, 42d, and 1st Divisions,) under Major

Gen. Joseph T. Dickman, in line to Xivray, was to swing toward Vigneulles

on the pivot of the Moselle River for the initial assault. From Xivray

to Mouilly the 2d Colonial French Corps was in line in the centre, and

our 5th Corps, under command of Major Gen. George H. Cameron, with our

26th Division and a French division at the western base of the salient,

was to attack three difficult hills--Les Eparges, Combres, and Amaranthe.

Our 1st Corps had in reserve the 78th Division, our 4th Corps the 3d

Division, and our First Army the 35th and 91st Divisions, with the 80th

and 33d available. It should be understood that our corps organizations

are very elastic, and that we have at no time had permanent assignments

of divisions to corps.

After four hours' artillery preparation, the seven American divisions in

the front line advanced at 5 A.M. on Sept. 12, assisted by a limited

number of tanks, manned partly by Americans and partly by French. These

divisions, accompanied by groups of wire cutters and others armed with

bangalore torpedoes, went through the successive bands of barbed wire

that protected the enemy's front-line and support trenches in

irresistible waves on schedule time, breaking down all defense of an

enemy demoralized by the great volume of our artillery fire and our

sudden approach out of the fog.

Our 1st Corps advanced to Thiaucourt, while our 4th Corps curved back to

the southwest through Nonsard. The 2d Colonial French Corps made the

slight advance required of it on very difficult ground, and the 5th Corps

took its three ridges and repulsed a counter attack. A rapid march

brought reserve regiments of a division of the 5th Corps into Vigneulles

and beyond Fresnes-en-Woevre. At the cost of only 7,000 casualties,

mostly light, we had taken 16,000 prisoners and 443 guns, a great

quantity of material, released the inhabitants of many villages from

enemy domination, and established our lines in a position to threaten

Metz. This signal success of the American First Army in its first

offensive was of prime importance. The Allies found they had a

formidable army to aid them, and the enemy learned finally that he had

one to reckon with.

On the day after we had taken the St. Mihiel salient, much of our corps

and army artillery which had operated at St. Mihiel, and our divisions in

reserve at other points, were already on the move toward the area back of

the line between the Meuse River and the western edge of the Forest of

Argonne. With the exception of St. Mihiel, the old German front line

from Switzerland to the east of Rheims was still intact. In the general

attack all along the line, the operations assigned the American Army as

the hinge of this Allied offensive were directed toward the important

railroad communications of the German armies through Mezieres and Sedan.

The enemy must hold fast to this part of his lines, or the withdrawal of

his forces, with four years' accumulation of plants and material, would

be dangerously imperiled.

The German Army had as yet shown no demoralization, and, while the mass

of its troops had suffered in morale, its first-class divisions, and

notably its machine-gun defense, were exhibiting remarkable tactical

efficiency as well as courage. The German General Staff was fully aware

of the consequences of a success on the Meuse-Argonne line. Certain that

he would do everything in his power to oppose us, the action was planned

with as much secrecy as possible and was undertaken with the

determination to use all our divisions in forcing decision. We expected

to draw the best German divisions to our front and to consume them while

the enemy was held under grave apprehension lest our attack should break

his line, which it was our firm purpose to do.

Our right flank was protected by the Meuse, while our left embraced the

Argonne Forest, whose ravines, hills, and elaborate defense, screened by

dense thickets, had been generally considered impregnable. Our order of

battle from right to left was the 3d Corps from the Meuse to Malancourt,

with the 33d, 80th, and 4th Divisions in line and the 3d Division as

corps reserve; the 5th Corps from Malancourt to Vauquois, with the 79th,

87th, and 91st Divisions in line and the 32d in corps reserve, and the

1st Corps from Vauquois to Vienne le Chateau, with the 35th, 28th, and

77th Divisions in line and the 92d in corps reserve. The army reserve

consisted of the 1st, 29th, and 82d Divisions.

On the night of Sept. 25, our troops quietly took the place of the

French, who thinly held the line in this sector, which had long been

inactive. In the attack which began on the 26th we drove through the

barbed-wire entanglements and the sea of shell craters across No Man's

Land, mastering all the first-line defenses. Continuing on the 27th and

28th, against machine guns and artillery of an increasing number of enemy

reserve divisions, we penetrated to a depth of from three to seven miles

and took the village of Montfaucon and its commanding hill, and other

villages. East of the Meuse one of our divisions, which was with the 2d

Colonial French Corps, captured Marcheville and Rieville, giving further

protection to the flank of our main body. We had taken 10,000 prisoners,

we had gained our point of forcing the battle into the open, and were

prepared for the enemy's reaction, which was bound to come, as he had

good roads and ample railroad facilities for bringing up his artillery

and reserves.

In the chill rain of dark nights, our engineers had to build new roads

across spongy, shell-torn areas, repair broken roads beyond No Man's

Land, and build bridges. Our gunners, with no thought of sleep, put

their shoulders to wheels and drag ropes to bring their guns through the

mire in support of the infantry, now under the increasing fire of the

enemy's artillery. Our attack had taken the enemy by surprise, but,

quickly recovering himself, he began to fire counter attacks in strong

force, supported by heavy bombardments, with large quantities of gas.

From Sept. 28 until Oct. 4, we maintained the offensive against patches

of woods defended by snipers and continuous lines of machine guns, and

pushed forward our guns and transport, seizing strategical points in

preparation for further attacks.

Other divisions attached to the Allied Armies were doing their part. It

was the fortune of our 2d Corps, composed of the 27th and 30th Divisions,

which had remained with the British, to have a place of honor in

co-operation with the Australian Corps on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 in the

assault on the Hindenburg line where the St. Quentin Canal passes through

a tunnel under a ridge. The 30th Division speedily broke through the

main line of defense for all its objectives, while the 27th pushed on

impetuously through the main line until some of its elements reached

Gouy. In the midst of the maze of trenches and shell craters and under

crossfire from machine guns the other elements fought desperately against

odds. In this and in later actions, from Oct. 6 to Oct. 19, our 2d Corps

captured over 6,000 prisoners and advanced over thirteen miles. The

spirit and aggressiveness of these divisions have been highly praised by

the British Army commander under whom they served.

On Oct. 2-9 our 2d and 36th Divisions were sent to assist the French in

an important attack against the old German positions before Rheims. The

2d conquered the complicated defense works on their front against a

persistent defense worthy of the grimmest period of trench warfare and

attacked the strongly held wooded hill of Blanc Mont, which they captured

in a second assault, sweeping over it with consummate dash and skill.

This division then repulsed strong counter attacks before the village and

cemetery of Ste. Etienne and took the town, forcing the Germans to fall

back from before Rheims and yield positions they had held since

September, 1914. On Oct. 9 the 36th Division relieved the 2d, and in its

first experience under fire withstood very severe artillery bombardment

and rapidly took up the pursuit of the enemy, now retiring behind the


The allied progress elsewhere cheered the efforts of our men in this

crucial contest, as the German command threw in more and more first-class

troops to stop our advance. We made steady headway in the almost

impenetrable and strongly held Argonne Forest, for, despite this

reinforcement, it was our army that was doing the driving. Our aircraft

was increasing in skill and numbers and forcing the issue, and our

infantry and artillery were improving rapidly with each new experience.

The replacements fresh from home were put into exhausted divisions with

little time for training, but they had the advantage of serving beside

men who knew their business and who had almost become veterans overnight.

The enemy had taken every advantage of the terrain, which especially

favored the defense, by a prodigal use of machine guns manned by highly

trained veterans and by using his artillery at short ranges. In the face

of such strong frontal positions we should have been unable to accomplish

any progress according to previously accepted standards, but I had every

confidence in our aggressive tactics and the courage of our troops.

On Oct. 4 the attack was renewed all along our front. The 3d Corps,

tilting to the left, followed the Brieulles-Cunel road; our 5th Corps

took Gesnes, while the 1st Corps advanced for over two miles along the

irregular valley of the Aire River and in the wooded hills of the Argonne

that bordered the river, used by the enemy with all his art and weapons

of defense. This sort of fighting continued against an enemy striving to

hold every foot of ground and whose very strong counterattacks challenged

us at every point. On the 7th the 1st Corps captured Chatel-Chenery and

continued along the river to Cornay. On the east of Meuse sector, one of

the two divisions, co-operating with the French, captured Consenvoye and

the Haumont Woods. On the 9th the 5th Corps, in its progress up the

Aire, took Fleville, and the 3d Corps, which had continuous fighting

against odds, was working its way through Brieulles and Cunel. On the

10th we had cleared the Argonne Forest of the enemy.

It was now necessary to constitute a second army, and on Oct. 9 the

immediate command of the First Army was turned over to Lieut. Gen. Hunter

Liggett. The command of the Second Army, whose divisions occupied a

sector in the Woevre, was given to Lieut. Gen. Robert L. Bullard, who had

been commander of the 1st Division and then of the 3d Corps. Major Gen.

Dickman was transferred to the command of the 1st Corps, while the 5th

Corps was placed under Major Gen. Charles P. Summerall, who had recently

commanded the 1st Division. Major Gen. John L. Hines, who had gone

rapidly up from regimental to division commander, was assigned to the 3d

Corps. These four officers had been in France from the early days of the

expedition and had learned their lessons in the school of practical


Our constant pressure against the enemy brought day by day more

prisoners, mostly survivors from machine-gun nests captured in fighting

at close quarters. On Oct. 18 there was very fierce fighting in the

Caures Woods east of the Meuse and in the Ormont Woods. On the 14th the

1st Corps took St. Juvin, and the 5th Corps, in hand-to-hand encounters,

entered the formidable Kriemhilde line, where the enemy had hoped to

check us indefinitely. Later the 5th Corps penetrated further the

Kriemhilde line, and the 1st Corps took Champigneulles and the important

town of Grandpre. Our dogged offensive was wearing down the enemy, who

continued desperately to throw his best troops against us, thus weakening

his line in front of our Allies and making their advance less difficult.

Meanwhile we were not only able to continue the battle, but our 37th and

91st Divisions were hastily withdrawn from our front and dispatched to

help the French Army in Belgium. De-training in the neighborhood of

Ypres, these divisions advanced by rapid stages to the fighting line and

were assigned to adjacent French corps. On Oct. 31, in continuation of

the Flanders offensive, they attacked and methodically broke down all

enemy resistance. On Nov. 3, the 37th had completed its mission in

dividing the enemy across the Escaut River and firmly established itself

along the east bank included in the division zone of action. By a clever

flanking movement troops of the 91st Division captured Spitaals Bosschen,

a difficult wood extending across the central part of the division

sector, reached the Escaut, and penetrated into the town of Audenarde.

These divisions received high commendation from their corps commanders

for their dash and energy.

On the 23d, the 3d and 5th Corps pushed northward to the level of

Bantheville. While we continued to press forward and throw back the

enemy's violent counter attacks with great loss to him, a regrouping of

our forces was under way for the final assault. Evidences of loss of

morale by the enemy gave our men more confidence in attack and more

fortitude in enduring the fatigue of incessant effort and the hardships

of very inclement weather.

With comparatively well-rested divisions, the final advance on the

Meuse-Argonne front was begun on Nov. 1. Our increased artillery force

acquitted itself magnificently in support of the advance, and the enemy

broke before the determined infantry, which, by its persistent fighting

of the past weeks and the dash of this attack, had overcome his will to

resist. The 3d Corps took Ancreville, Doulcon, and Andevanne, and the

5th Corps took Landres et St. Georges and pressed through successive

lines of resistance to Bayonville and Chennery. On the 2d, the 1st Corps

joined in the movement, which now became an impetuous onslaught that

could not be stayed.

On the 3d, advance troops surged forward in pursuit, some by motor

trucks, while the artillery pressed along the country roads close behind.

The 1st Corps reached Authe and Chatillon-sur-Bar, the 5th Corps, Fosse

and Nouart, and the 3d Corps, Halles, penetrating the enemy's line to a

depth of twelve miles. Our large-calibre guns had advanced and were

skillfully brought into position to fire upon the important lines at

Montmedy, Longuyon, and Conflans. Our 3d Corps crossed the Meuse on the

5th, and the other corps, in the full confidence that the day was theirs,

eagerly cleared the way of machine guns as they swept northward,

maintaining complete co-ordination throughout. On the 6th, a division of

the 1st Corps reached a point on the Meuse opposite Sedan, twenty-five

miles from our line of departure. Their strategical goal which was our

highest hope was gained. We had cut the enemy's main line of

communications, and nothing but surrender or an armistice could save his

army from complete disaster.

In all forty enemy divisions had been used against us in the

Meuse-Argonne battle. Between Sept. 26 and Nov. 6 we took 26,059

prisoners and 468 guns on this front. Our divisions engaged were the

1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 32d, 33d, 35th, 37th, 42d, 77th,

78th, 79th, 80th, 82d, 89th, 90th, and 91st. Many of our divisions

remained in line for a length of time that required nerves of steel,

while others were sent in again after only a few days of rest. The 1st,

5th, 26th, 42d, 77th, 80th, 89th, and 90th were in the line twice.

Although some of the divisions were fighting their first battle, they

soon became equal to the best.

On the three days preceding Nov. 10, the 3d, the 2d Colonial, and the

17th French Corps fought a difficult struggle through the Meuse hills

south of Stenay and forced the enemy into the plain. Meanwhile, my plans

for further use of the American forces contemplated an advance between

the Meuse and the Moselle in the direction of Longwy by the First Army,

while, at the same time, the Second Army should assume the offensive

toward the rich coal fields of Briey. These operations were to be

followed by an offensive toward Chateau-Salins east of the Moselle, thus

isolating Metz. Accordingly, attacks on the American front had been

ordered, and that of the Second Army was in progress on the morning of

Nov. 11 when instructions were received that hostilities should cease at

11 o'clock A.M.

At this moment the line of the American sector, from right to left, began

at Port-sur-Seille, thence across the Moselle to Vandieres and through

the Woevre to Bezonvaux, in the foothills of the Meuse, thence along to

the foothills and through the northern edge of the Woevre forests to the

Meuse at Mouzay, thence along the Meuse connecting with the French under


Co-operation among the Allies has at all times been most cordial. A far

greater effort has been put forth by the allied armies and staffs to

assist us than could have been expected. The French Government and Army

have always stood ready to furnish us with supplies, equipment, and

transportation, and to aid us in every way. In the towns and hamlets

wherever our troops have been stationed or billeted the French people

have everywhere received them more as relatives and intimate friends than

as soldiers of a foreign army. For these things words are quite

inadequate to express our gratitude. There can be no doubt that the

relations growing out of our associations here assure a permanent

friendship between the two peoples. Although we have not been so

intimately associated with the people of Great Britain, yet their troops

and ours when thrown together have always warmly fraternized. The

reception of those of our forces who have passed through England and of

those who have been stationed there has always been enthusiastic.

Altogether it has been deeply impressed upon us that the ties of language

and blood bring the British and ourselves together completely and


There are in Europe altogether, including a regiment and some sanitary

units with the Italian Army and the organizations at Murmansk, also

including those en route from the States, approximately 2,053,347 men,

less our losses. Of this total there are in France 1,338,169 combatant

troops. Forty divisions have arrived, of which the infantry of ten have

been used as replacements, leaving thirty divisions now in France

organized into three armies of three corps each.

The losses of the Americans up to Nov. 18 are: Killed and wounded,

36,145; died of disease, 14,811; deaths unclassified, 2,204; wounded,

179,625; prisoners, 2,163; missing, 1,160. We have captured about 44,000

prisoners and 1,400 guns, howitzers, and trench mortars.

The duties of the General Staff, as well as those of the army and corps

staffs, have been very ably performed. Especially is this true when we

consider the new and difficult problems with which they have been

confronted. This body of officers, both as individuals and as an

organization, has, I believe, no superiors in professional ability, in

efficiency, or in loyalty.

Nothing that we have in France better reflects the efficiency and

devotion to duty of Americans in general than the Service of Supply,

whose personnel is thoroughly imbued with a patriotic desire to do its

full duty. They have at all times fully appreciated their responsibility

to the rest of the army, and the results produced have been most


Our Medical Corps is especially entitled to praise for the general

effectiveness of its work, both in hospital and at the front. Embracing

men of high professional attainments, and splendid women devoted to their

calling and untiring in their efforts, this department has made a new

record for medical and sanitary proficiency.

The Quartermaster Department has had difficult and various tasks, but it

has more than met all demands that have been made upon it. Its

management and its personnel have been exceptionally efficient and

deserve every possible commendation.

As to the more technical services, the able personnel of the Ordnance

Department in France has splendidly fulfilled its functions, both in

procurement and in forwarding the immense quantities of ordnance

required. The officers and men and the young women of the Signal Corps

have performed their duties with a large conception of the problem, and

with a devoted and patriotic spirit to which the perfection of our

communications daily testifies. While the Engineer Corps has been

referred to in another part of this report, it should be further stated

that the work has required large vision and high professional skill, and

great credit is due their personnel for the high proficiency that they

have constantly maintained.

Our aviators have no equals in daring or in fighting ability, and have

left a record of courageous deeds that will ever remain a brilliant page

in the annals of our army. While the Tank Corps has had limited

opportunities, its personnel has responded gallantly on every possible

occasion, and has shown courage of the highest order.

The Adjutant General's Department has been directed with a systematic

thoroughness and excellence that surpassed any previous work of its kind.

The Inspector General's Department has risen to the highest standards,

and throughout has ably assisted commanders in the enforcement of

discipline. The able personnel of the Judge Advocate General's

Department has solved with judgment and wisdom the multitude of difficult

legal problems, many of them involving questions of great international


It would be impossible in this brief preliminary report to do justice to

the personnel of all the different branches of this organization, which I

shall cover in detail in a later report.

The navy in European waters has at all times most cordially aided the

army, and it is most gratifying to report that there has never before

been such perfect co-operation between these two branches of the service.

As to the Americans in Europe not in the military service, it is the

greatest pleasure to say that, both in official and in private life, they

are intensely patriotic and loyal, and have been invariably sympathetic

and helpful to the army.

Finally, I pay the supreme tribute to our officers and soldiers of the

line. When I think of their heroism, their patience under hardships,

their unflinching spirit of offensive action, I am filled with emotion

which I am unable to express. Their deeds are immortal, and they have

earned the eternal gratitude of our country.


General, Commander-in-Chief,

American Expeditionary Forces.