KELLY MILLER'S HISTORY
The World War
An Intensely Human and Brilliant Account of the World War; Why America Entered the Conflict; What the Allies Fought For; And a Thrilling Account of the Important Part Taken by the Negro in the Tragic Defeat of Germany; The Downfall of Autocracy, and Complete Victory for the Cause of Righteousness and Freedom.
A Wonderful Array of Striking Pictures Made from Recent Official Photographs, Illustrating and Describing the New and Awful Devices Used in the Horrible Methods of Modern Warfare, together with Remarkable Pictures of the Negro in Action in Both Army and Navy.
KELLY MILLER, A.M., LL.D.
The Well-Known and Popular Author of "Race Adjustment," "Out of the House of Bondage" and "The Disgrace of Democracy."
Important Contribution by JOHN J. PERSHING, the Famous General, FREDERICK DRINKER, the Noted War Correspondent, and E.A. ALLEN, Author of "The History of Civilization."
Copyright, 1919 By A. JENKINS
Copyright, 1919 By O. KELLER
THE NEGRO'S PART IN THE WAR
BY PROFESSOR KELLY MILLER, THE WELL-KNOWN THINKER AND WRITER.
This treatise will set forth the black man's part in the world's war with the logical sequence of facts and the brilliant power of statement for which the author is famous. The mere announcement that the author of "Race Adjustment," "Out of the House of Bondage," and "The Disgrace of Democracy" is to present a history of the Negro in the great world conflict, is sufficient to arouse expectancy among the wide circle of readers who eagerly await anything that flows from his pen.
In this treatise, Professor Miller will trace briefly, but with consuming interest, the relation of the Negro to the great wars of the past. He will point out the never-failing fount of loyalty and patriotism which characterizes the black man's nature, and will show that the Negro has never been a hireling, but has always been characterized by that moral energy which actuates all true heroism.
The conduct of the Negro in the present struggle will be set forth with a brilliant and pointed pen. The idea of three hundred thousand American Negroes crossing three thousand miles of sea to fight against autocracy of the German crown constitutes the most interesting chapter in the history of this modern crusade against an unholy cause. The valor and heroism of the Afro-American contingent were second to none according to the unanimous testimony of those who were in command of this high enterprise.
The story of Negro officers in command of troops of their own color will prove the wisdom of a policy entered upon with much distrust and misgiving. It is just here that Professor Miller reaches the high-water mark. Here is a story never told before, because the world has never before witnessed Negro officers in large numbers participating in the directive side of war waged on the high level of modern science and system.
Professor Miller's treatise carries its own prophecy. He logically enough forecasts the future of the race in glowing colors as the result of his loyal and patriotic conduct in this great world epoch.
The author wisely queries: "When, hereafter, the Negro asks for his rights as an American citizen, where can the American be found with the heart or the hardihood to say him, Nay?"
The work will be profusely illustrated.
PUBLISHERS. March 27, 1919.
While the underlying causes of the greatest war in all history must be traced far back into the centuries, the one great object of the conflict which was precipitated by the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria, in Bosnia, at the end of June, 1914, is the ultimate determination as to whether imperialism as exemplified in the government of Germany shall rule the world, or whether democracy shall reign.
Whenever men or nations disregard those principles which society has laid down for their conduct in modern civilized life, and obligation and duty are forgotten in the desire for self-advancement, conflict results.
Since the days of Athens and Sparta the world's greatest wars have in the main been conflicts of ideals—democracy being arrayed against oligarchy—men fighting for individual rights as against militarism and military domination.
In the World War, which terminated with the signing of the armistice, November 11, 1918, which painted the green fields of France and Belgium red with blood, and swept nations into the most significant and bitter struggle in all history, the fight was against the Imperial Government of Germany, by men and nations who claim that humanity the world over has rights that must be observed.
Germany has brought upon herself the destruction of her government by ruthlessly trampling upon her neighbors and assuming that "might is right."
The Imperial Government, led by the House of Hohenzollern, was suffering from an exaggerated ego. Her trouble was psychological. The men who study the strange workings and twists of the human mind which land some men in the institutions for the criminal insane, agree that when any man becomes obsessed with an idea and "rides a hobby" to the exclusion of all else, he loses his balance and develops an obliquity of view which makes him a dangerous creature.
Germany was obsessed with the spirit of militarism and almost everything else had been sacrificed to this idol. The very first appearance of Germans in history is as a warlike people. The earliest German literature is of folk-tales about war heroes, and these stories tell of the manly virtues of the heroes.
It is true that there are many scientists, poets, and musicians among the Germans, but their warlike side must never be forgotten. The entire race is imbued with the military spirit, the influence reaching to every phase of national life. All that was best in the nation was raised to its highest efficiency through military training, but in the accomplishment of its purposes the House of Hohenzollern, which is responsible for the development of the national fighting arm, neglected much and produced millions of creatures who are but human machines, taught to obey orders without consideration as to the effect their acts might produce, whether right or wrong.
In their criticisms of the Prussian militarism the world democracies defined militarism as an arrogant, or exclusive, professional military spirit, developed by training and environment until it became despotic, and assumed superiority over rational motives and deliberations.
This attitude was reflected in the conduct of the Kaiser, who, as illustrative of the point, is quoted at the dedication of the monument to Prince Frederick Charles at Frankfurt-on-the-Oder in 1891, as having said, "We would rather sacrifice our eighteen army corps and our forty-two millions inhabitants on the field of battle than surrender a single stone of what my father and Prince Charles Frederick gained."
His speeches were filled with similar bombastic and extravagant expressions which were the subject of international comment for many years. Other countries besides Germany have maintained great armies, but their maintenance has been but an incidental part of the general business of the nation and there was no submerging of the spirit which seeks and demands appropriate public ideals in government and action. So that while other elements have always tended to produce friction between neighboring countries, it was adamant, stubborn, military Prussianism which asserted itself in the middle of 1914 and set the world afire.
Enough is known at this writing to show that the cost in lives, money, morals and weakening of humanity as a whole, is staggering, and yet the whole truth can not be realized for years to come. In our own great struggle, which had for its object the liberation of the Negro, the scars which our country received have not yet been entirely eliminated. Portions of the country devastated by the soldiers still bear the marks of the invasion, but what was lost in money and material things was made up by the welding together of the two sections of the country. The Union was made a concrete, humanitarian body of citizens. The battle was for the right and liberty triumphed. And by the defeat of Germany liberty again triumphs and the world is made a safe place in which to live.
And just as America fought for liberty in the stirring days of 1776, and her peoples fought one another in the trying days of 1861-65, so America was drawn into the World's War that the principles of liberty, for which she has ever stood, might be perpetuated throughout the world, and that an international peace might be established, which has for its purposes the ending of such convulsions as have shaken the world since August, 1914, since the first shots were fired in fair Belgium by German invaders.
CIVILIZATION AT ISSUE—THE GERMAN EMPIRE—CHARACTER OF WILLIAM II—THE GREAT CONSPIRACY—THE WAR BY YEARS—UNITED STATES IN THE WAR—TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES OF BATTLE—THE DOWNFALL OF TURKEY—THE DEMOCRATIC CLOSE OF THE WAR 17
GEN. PERSHING'S OWN STORY
ORGANIZATION OF HIS GENERAL STAFF—TRAINING IN FRANCE—IN THE AISNE OFFENSIVE—AT CHATEAU THIERRY—THE ST MIHEIL SALIENT—MEUSE-ARGONNE, FIRST PHASE—THE BATTLE IN THE FOREST—SUMMARY 49
PRESIDENT WILSON'S REVIEW OF THE WAR
TROOP MOVEMENT DURING THE YEAR—TRIBUTE TO AMERICAN SOLDIERS—SPLENDID SPIRIT OF THE NATION—RESUME THE WORK OF PEACE—OUTLINE OF WORK IN PARIS—SUPPORT OF NATION URGED 79
THE FLASH THAT SET THE WORLD AFLAME
TEUTON FIND IN A MURDER THE EXCUSE FOR WAR—GERMANY INSPIRED BY AMBITIONS FOR WORLD CONTROL—THE STRUGGLE FOR COMMERCIAL SUPREMACY A FACTOR—THE UNDERLYING MOTIVES 89
WHY AMERICA ENTERED THE WAR
THE IRON HAND OF PRUSSIANISM—THE ARROGANT HOHENZOLLERN ATTITUDE—SECRETARY LANE TELLS WHY WE FIGHT—BROKEN PLEDGES—LAWS VIOLATED—PRUSSIANISM THE CHILD OF BARBARITY—GERMANY'S PLANS FOR A WORLD EMPIRE 97
THE THINGS THAT MADE MEN MAD
GERMANY'S BARBARITY—THE DEVASTATION OF BELGIUM—HUMAN FIENDS—FIREBRAND AND TORCH—RAPE AND PILLAGE—THE SACKING OF LOUVAIN—WANTON DESTRUCTION—OFFICIAL PROOF 113
THE SLINKING SUBMARINE
A VORACIOUS SEA MONSTER—THE RUTHLESS DESTRUCTIVE POLICY OF GERMANY—STARVATION OF NATIONS THE GOAL—HOW THE SUBMARINES OPERATE—SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES 135
THWARTING THE U-BOAT
NETS TO ENTANGLE THE SEA SHARKS OF WAR—"CHASERS" OR "SKIMMING DISH" BOATS—"BLIMPS" AND SEAPLANES—HUNTING THE SUBMARINE WITH "LANCE" BOMB AND GUN—A SAILOR'S DESCRIPTION 154
THE EYES OF BATTLE
AEROPLANES AND AIRSHIPS—THEY SPY THE MOVEMENTS OF FORCESON LAND OR SEA—LEAD DISASTROUS BOMB ATTACKS—VALUABLE IN "SPOTTING" SUBMARINES—THE BOMBARDMENT AT MESSINES RIDGE 170
WAR'S STRANGE DEVICES
CHEMISTRY A DEMON OF DESTRUCTION—POISON GAS BOMBS—GAS MASKS—HAND GRENADES—MORTARS—"TANKS"—FEUDAL "BATTERING RAMS"—STEEL HELMETS—STRANGE BULLETS—MOTOR PLOWS—REAL DOGS OF WAR 185
WONDERFUL WAR WEAPONS
THE TERRIBLE RAPID-FIRE GUN—ARMORED AUTOMOBILES AND AUTOMOBILE ARTILLERY—HOWITZERS—MOUNTED FORTS—ARMORED TRAINS—OBSERVATION TOWERS—WIRELESS APPARATUS—THE ARMY PANTRY 205
THE WORLD'S ARMIES
THE EFFICIENT GERMAN ORGANIZATION—THE LANDWEHR AND LANDSTURM—GENERAL FORMS OF MILITARY ORGANIZATION—THE BRAVE FRENCH TROOPS—THE PICTURESQUE ITALIAN SOLDIERY—THE PEACE AND WAR STRENGTH—AVAILABLE FIGHTING MEN—FORTIFICATIONS 224
THE WORLD'S NAVIES
GERMANY'S SEA STRENGTH—GREAT BRITAIN'S IMMENSE WAR FLEET—IMMENSE FIGHTING CRAFT—THE UNITED STATES' NEW BATTLE CRUISERS—THE FASTEST AND BIGGEST OCEAN FIGHTING SHIPS—THE PICTURESQUE MARINES: THE SOLDIERS OF THE SEA 243
THE NATIONS AT WAR
UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS—HOW THE WAR FLAMES SPREAD—A SCORE OF COUNTRIES INVOLVED—THE POINTS OF CONTACT—PICTURESQUE AND RUGGED BULGARIA, ROUMANIA, SERVIA, GREECE, ITALY AND HISTORIC SOUTHEAST EUROPE 259
MODERN WAR METHODS
INDIVIDUAL INITIATIVE AS AGAINST MASS MOVEMENTS—TRENCH WARFARE A GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK—RATS AND DISEASE—SURGERY'S TRIUMPHS—CHANGED TACTICS—ITALIAN MOUNTAIN FIGHTING 281
WOMAN AND THE WAR
SHE HAS WON "HER PLACE IN THE SUN"—RICH AND POOR IN THE MUNITIONS FACTORIES—NURSE AND AMBULANCE DRIVER—KHAKI AND TROUSERS—ORGANIZER AND FARMER—HEROES IN THE STRESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES—DYING MEN'S WORK FOR MEN—EVEN A "BOBBIE" 298
THE TERRIBLE PRICE
A NATION OF MEN DESTROYED—MILLIONS IN SHIPPING AND COMMERCE DESTROYED—WORLD'S MAPS CHANGED—BILLIONS IN MONEY—IMMENSE DEBTS—NATION'S WEALTH—THE UNITED STATES A GREAT PROVIDER 316
THE WORLD RULERS AT WAR
WOODROW WILSON, THE CHAMPION OF DEMOCRACY—THE EGOTISTICAL KAISER—THE GERMAN CROWN PRINCE—BRITAIN'S MONARCH—CONSTANTINE WHO QUIT RATHER THAN FIGHT GERMANY—PRESIDENT POINCARE—AND OTHER NATIONAL HEADS 328
THE WAR'S WHO'S WHO
STRIKING FIGURES IN THE CONFLICT—JOFFRE, THE HERO OF MARNE—NIVELLE, THE FRENCH COMMANDER—SIR DOUGLAS HAIG—THE KAISER'S CHANCELLOR—VENIZELOS—"BLACK JACK" PERSHING 344
CHEMISTRY IN THE WAR
SUBSTITUTES FOR COTTON—NITRATES PRODUCED FROM AIR—YEAST A REAL SUBSTITUTE FOR BEEF—SEAWEED MADE TO GIVE UP POTASH—A GANGRENE PREVENTATIVE—SODA MADE OUT OF SALT WATER—AMERICA CHEMICALLY INDEPENDENT 361
OUR NEIGHBORING ALLY
CANADA'S RECRUITING—RAISE 33,000 TROOPS IN TWO MONTHS—FIRST EXPEDITIONARY FORCE TO CROSS ATLANTIC—BRAVERY AT YPRES AND LENS—MEETING DIFFICULT PROBLEMS—QUEBEC AROUSED BY CONSCRIPTION 371
THE HEROIC ANZAC
FORCES THAT STIRRED THE WORLD IN THE GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN—FAMOUS AS SAPPERS—THE BLASTING OF MESSINES RIDGE—TWO YEARS TUNNELLING—30,000 GERMANS BLOWN TO ATOMS—1,000,000 POUNDS OF EXPLOSIVES USED—TROOPS THAT WERE TRANSPORTED 11,000 MILES 390
AMERICA STEPS IN
PRESIDENT WILSON'S FAMOUS MESSAGE TO CONGRESS—THE WAR RESOLUTION—APRIL 6, 1917, SEES THE UNITED STATES AT WAR—REVIEW OF THE NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN GERMANY AND AMERICA—THE U-BOAT RESTRICTED ZONE ANNOUNCEMENT OF GERMANY—PREMIER LLOYD GEORGE ON AMERICA IN THE CONFLICT 399
UNCLE SAM TAKES HOLD
MAKES WORLD'S BIGGEST WAR LOAN—SEIZE GERMAN SHIPS—INTRIGUE EXPOSED—GENERAL PERSHING AND STAFF IN EUROPE—THE NAVY ON DUTY IN NORTH SEA—FIRST UNITED STATES TROOPS REACH FRANCE—GERMANY'S ATTEMPTS TO SINK TROOP SHIPS THWARTED BY NAVY'S GUNS 427
A GERMAN CRISIS
THE DOWNFALL OF BETHMANN-HOLLWEG—THE CROWN PRINCE IN THE LIME LIGHT—HOLLWEG'S UNIQUE CAREER—DR. GEORG MICHAELIS APPOINTED CHANCELLOR—THE KAISER AND HOW HE GETS HIS IMMENSE POWER 444
UNCLE SAM AND THE NEUTRALS
PRESIDENT WILSON PUTS EMBARGO ON FOOD SHIPMENTS—SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES FURNISHING SUPPLIES TO GERMANY INSPIRES ORDER—THE DIFFICULT POSITION OF NORWAY, DENMARK, HOLLAND AND SWITZERLAND 452
THE ACTIONS OF THE WAR
FROM BOSNIA TO FLANDERS—MARNE THE TURNING POINT OF THE CONFLICT—THE CONQUESTS OF SERVIA AND RUMANIA—THE FALL OF BAGDAD—RUSSIA'S WOMEN SOLDIERS—AMERICA'S CONSCRIPTS 463
AMERICAN FORCES BECOME FACTOR
UNITED STATES SOLDIERS INSPIRED ALLIED TROOPS—RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT COLLAPSES—ITALIAN ARMY FAILS—ALLIED WAR COUNCIL FORMED—FOCH COMMANDS ALLIED ARMIES—PERSHING OFFERS AMERICAN TROOPS—UNDER FIRE—U-BOAT BASES RAIDED BY BRITISH 473
AMERICANS TURN WAR'S TIDE
BRILLIANT AMERICAN FIGHTING STOPS HUN ADVANCE—FRENCH AND BRITISH INSPIRED—FAMOUS MARINES LEAD IN PICTURESQUE ATTACK—HALT GERMANS AT CHATEAU-THIERRY—USED OPEN STYLE FIGHTING—THOUSANDS OF GERMANS SLAIN—UNITED STATES TROOPS IN SIBERIA—NEW CONSCRIPTION BILL PASSED—ALLIED SUCCESSES ON ALL FRONTS 489
THE GERMAN EMPIRE COLLAPSES—FOCH'S STRATEGY WINS—AMERICAN INSPIRATION A BIG FACTOR—BULGARIA, TURKEY AND AUSTRIA QUIT WAR—MONARCHS FALL—KAISER ABDICATES AND FLEES GERMANY—ARMISTICE SIGNED—NOVEMBER 11, PEACE 497
THE NEGRO IN THE WORLD WAR 507
The Late Major Walker, of the First Colored Battalion, District of Columbia National Guard
The late Major James E. Walker was born in Virginia, September 7, 1874. He was educated in the public schools of Washington, D.C., and was graduated from the M. Street High School in 1893, and the Miner Normal School in 1894. For twenty-four years he was in the public school service, and since 1899 was supervising principal. In 1896 he was made Lieutenant in the First Separate Battalion of the National Guard of the District of Columbia. In 1909 he was made Captain and in 1912, through competitive examination, was commissioned Major. His command was called out to guard the White House, and while on this duty Major Walker's health became impaired. He was sent to the U.S. Hospital at Fort Bayard, New Mexico, for treatment, where he died April 4, 1918.]
CIVILIZATION AT ISSUE—THE GERMAN EMPIRE—CHARACTER OF WILLIAM II—THE GREAT CONSPIRACY—THE WAR BY YEARS—UNITED STATES IN THE WAR—TWO HUNDRED FIFTY MILES OF BATTLE—THE DOWNFALL OF TURKEY—THE DEMOCRATIC CLOSE OF THE WAR.
The World War, terminated by the signing of the armistice November 11, 1918, was attended with more far-reaching changes than any war known to history, and is destined to so profoundly influence civilization that we see in it the beginning of a new age. Somewhat similar wars in the past were the campaigns of Alexander; the wars that overthrew the Roman Empire and the Napoleonic wars of a previous century; but this one war surpasses them all, measured by any scale that can be applied to military operations. It was truly a World War, thus in a class by itself. Beginning in Central Europe, twenty-eight nations—nearly all of the important nations of the world—with a total population of about 1,600,000,000—or eleven-twelfths of the human race—became involved. It cost 10,000,000 human lives, 17,000,000 more suffered bodily injury; the money cost was about $200,000,000,000, but who can measure the cost in untold suffering caused by ruined homes and wrecked lives that attended it? Or who can measure the property loss, considering that the fairest provinces of Europe were swept with the bezom of destruction?
Rightly to judge the real significance of such a world struggle, we must consider conditions that made it possible; study the issue involved stripped of all misleading statements; review its course and weigh the nature of the profound changes—geographical, political and economic—that resulted. We shall find that this war was the culmination of century-old causes; that two rival theories of government—impossible to longer co-exist—met in deadly conflict; and that civilization itself was the stake at issue. We shall see that beyond the wreck of empires and troubled days of reconstruction now upon us—through it all approaches a wonderful new age. Autocracy has crumbled; a higher form of democracy will arise and in peaceful days to come the nations of the world will rapidly advance in all that constitutes national well-being.
THE GERMAN STATES.
The early history of Germany is a confused panorama of a thousand years, during which time Central Europe was a country of numerous separate states, many of them at times coming together as a more or less closely knit confederacy under the lead of a powerful state, only to fall apart into a mass of confused units at a later date. It is interesting to learn that among the Teutonic knights of that early time, none was more noted than Count Thassilo Von Zollern who founded the house of Hohenzollern, that played such an ambitious role in European history, the house whose downfall was one of the dramatic results of the war.
THE RISE OF PRUSSIA.
At its height the German Empire consisted of a union of twenty-five Germanic states of various grades and the Reichland of Alsace-Lorraine under the leadership of Prussia, by far the most important state of the Empire. The foundation of Prussia's greatness was laid by Frederick the Great in 1763 when he tore Silesia from Austria in an entirely unprovoked war. He wished to enlarge the bounds of Prussia, he coveted Silesia, so he took it. In that deed of spoliation we see manifested the spirit that has animated official Germany since that date. Not only is the House of Hohenzollern descended from the Robber Knights of old, but the same is true of the military caste of Germany generally. Recent centuries have cast only a thin veneer of modern thought over essentially medieval conceptions of national rights and duties.
THE DAYS OF BISMARCK.
For a century after the reign of Frederick, Prussia remained the most prominent Germanic state in Europe. Then we come to the days of Bismarck. He is regarded as a remarkable statesman. He himself delighted to be known as the man of "Blood and Iron." Judging from his acts his one motive in life was to advance the power and influence of Prussia. In the decade 1860-1870 he instigated three wars,—with Denmark in 1864, with Austria in 1866, with France in 1870,—not one of which was justifiable. The war with France was occasioned by deliberately changing the wording of a telegram—in itself friendly—from the King of Prussia to Napoleon III, knowing it would result in war. All were short wars, all resulted in victory for Prussia and consequent increase in territory. Under the glamour of the great victory over France in 1871 came the formation of the German Empire.
THE GERMAN EMPIRE.
Thus there suddenly arose in Central Europe, in the place of the weak confederation of earlier years, one empire of great actual strength, generously endowed as regards territory, and at the head of that empire was a state that alone of modern states most resembles Rome of early centuries, that ruled the Mediterranean world, imposing on the conquered people of that section her language, her laws and her customs. Like her great prototype, we now know that official Prussia regarded all she had accomplished to the formation of the empire as simply a station reached in a career of progress which was to end in a World empire as greatly surpassing that of Rome in her palmy days as the world of the twentieth century surpasses the known world of Roman times.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE EMPIRE.
The empire enjoyed a brief span of national life. In less than fifty years it ceased to exist, a republic of an uncertain nature takes its place. To outward appearances the development of the empire was a brilliant one. A colonial empire was established—mostly in Africa—nearly five times as great in area as the home empire; she had large possessions in the Pacific and had gained a foothold in China. The rich potash and iron deposits of Alsace increased her wealth and marvelously built up her industries and she became one of the greatest manufacturing nations of modern times. Her population doubled, her foreign trade increased four fold, her shipping grew by leaps and bounds. Her army became so perfected that it was acknowledged to be the greatest military machine the world had ever seen; she was building a navy that threatened the supremacy of England on the sea.
BUILT ON A FOUNDATION OF SAND.
In spite of this brilliant development, the empire rested on a foundation of sand. You will never understand the World War unless you grasp this thought and its justification. The government was autocratic, though under the form of a constitutional government. The entire military class in Germany held to theories of government, of national rights and wrongs that belonged to the middle ages. Theories of state-craft which the world long since outgrew were proclaimed and taught, and enforced by every means at command of the government, the military class, the professors, scientists and theologians of Germany. Education and religion were state controlled. As a consequence, every German child from his cradle to his grave was under the influence of state officials and never allowed to forget reverence for the kaiser, the glorious military record of Germany, German supremacy in every department of culture. Such a government was hopelessly behind modern ideas.
William II was the third emperor of Germany,—also the last. His reign began, in pomp and ceremony, June 15, 1888, it ended in the darkness and gloom of night, shortly before the signing of the armistice, November 11, 1918. Other reigns have been longer in duration; none surpassed his in deeds. When his reign began he said he would lead his people to "shining days." He did so; but "shining days" ended in despairing night.
Personally, William II was an able man, but he was not well balanced. In the early days of his reign, Bismarck confided to a friend that it would some day be necessary for Germany to confine William II in an insane asylum. We must remember his lineage, his long line of ancestors dating back to the Robber Knights of the Middle Ages, all used to the exercise of autocratic power. Medieval conceptions were his by inheritance. He believed he was divinely commissioned to rule Germany; he said so in his speeches. He believed he was a man of destiny who was to advance Germany to the zenith of earthly greatness; he himself, not someone else, asserted this. He asserted that while Napoleon failed in his great scheme of conquest, he, by God's help, would succeed. Every prominent military leader in Germany applauded such beliefs. He said that when he contemplated the paintings of his ancestors, and the military chiefs of Germany, who advanced the insignificant Mark of Brandenburg to the rank of the most powerful state in Europe, they seemed to reproach him for not being active in similar work. But we now know that he was not idle.
ACTIVITIES IN WHICH HE WAS INTERESTED.
One year after the accession of William II he paid a spectacular visit to "his friend" (as he called him) Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey, the head of one of the most cruel, licentious, incompetent, blood-thirsty governments that ever cursed the world; greeted him with a kiss, put on a Turkish uniform (fez and all), and assured the Mohammedan world that he was henceforth their friend. The ignorant Turks actually supposed he had become a Mohammedan and native papers spoke of him as "His Islamic Holiness." In the light of history, the meaning of all this is so clear that he who runs may read, and the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein. This visit was repeated in 1898. For more than twenty years every effort was made to extend German influence in Turkey, because that country with its minerals, its oils, its wonderfully strong strategical location was vital to the success of a vast scheme of conquest official Germany with William II as leader was contemplating.
Two years after his accession, there was organized the Pan-Germanic League. This League soon attracted to its ranks the entire class of Prussian Junkers, virtually all the military class, and a galaxy of writers and speakers. The purpose of the league was to foster in the minds of German people the idea that it was their privilege, right and duty to extend the power, influence and political dominance of Germany to all parts of the world, peacefully if possible, otherwise by the sword. This doctrine was taught openly and boldly in Germany in books and pamphlets and by means of lectures with such frankness and fullness of details that the world at large laughed at it as an exuberant dream of fanatics. Intellectual, military, and official Germany was in earnest. Her generals wrote books illustrated with maps showing the stages of world conquest; her professors patiently explained how necessary all this was to Germany's future; while her theologians pointed out it was God's will. But the world at large, except uneasy France, slept on.
OUTWORKINGS OF THE PLOT.
It was this vision that fired the imagination of William II. He was to be the Augustus of this greater Roman Empire; over virtually all the earth the House of Hohenzollern was to exercise despotic sway. Then began preparation for the World's War. With characteristic German thoroughness and patience the plans were laid. Thoroughness, since they embraced every conceivable means that would enhance their prospect of victory, her military leaders, scientists and statesmen were all busy. Patience, since they realized there was much to do. Many years were needed and Germany refused to be hurried. She carefully attended to every means calculated to increase the commerce and industry of the empire, but with it all—underlying it all—were activities devoted to preparation for world conquest. Building for world empire, Germany could afford to take time.
PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED.
Time was needed to solve the military problems involved. A nation aspiring to territory extending from Hamburg to Bagdad must firmly control the Balkan States. That meant that Austria must become, in effect, a German province; Serbia must be crushed; Bulgaria must become an ally; and Turkey must be brought under control. In 1913, two of these desired results were attained. Turkey was to a surprising degree under the military and economic control of Germany. Austria had become such a close ally that she might almost be styled a vassal of Germany. She faithfully carried out the wishes of Germany in 1908 when she annexed the Serbian states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a step she felt safe in taking since (the Kaiser's own words) behind her was the "shining sword of Germany." It were tedious to enlarge on this point. Let it suffice to say that in 1914 Germany felt herself ready for the conflict. Enormous supplies of guns, of a caliber before unthought of, and apparently inexhaustible supplies of ammunition had been prepared; strategic railroads had been built by which armies and supplies could be hurried to desired points; the Kiel Canal had been completed; her navy had assumed threatening proportions; her army, greatly enlarged, was in perfect readiness.
THE REAL CAUSES OF THE WAR.
The real cause of the war is now disclosed. It is not necessary to discuss other possible causes. The pistol shot at Serajevo was the occasion, not the cause of the war. The simple fact is that on one pretext or another war would have come anyway, simply because Germany was ready. In 1913 the speakers of the Pan-German League were going to and fro in Germany making public speeches on all possible occasions, warning the people to be ready, telling them "There was the smell of blood in the air," that the wrath of God was about to be visited upon the nations that would hem Germany in. We now know from official sources that Germany was eager for war in the fateful days of July 1914, when France and England were almost begging for peace. All this is made exceedingly clear in the secret memoirs of Prince Lichnowski, German ambassador to England, the published statements of the premier of Bavaria, also those of the Prince of Monaco, and the records of the Potsdam council over which the Kaiser presided, secretly convened one week after the murder of the Prince. There were present the generals, diplomats and bankers of Germany.
DECISION FOR WAR.
The matter of possible war was carefully considered. To the earnest question of the emperor, all present assured him that the interests they represented were ready, with the exception of the financiers who desired two weeks' time in which to make financial arrangements for the coming storm. This was given them, and the council adjourned. The emperor, to divert suspicion, hurried off on a yachting trip while the financiers immediately commenced disposing of their foreign securities. The stock markets of London, Paris, and New York during that interval of time bear eloquent testimony to the truth of these assertions. Two weeks and three days after the council adjourned, Austria sent her ultimatum to Serbia. The truth of these statements is vouched for by Henry Morgenthau, American ambassador to Turkey.
Thus were unleashed the dogs of war. For four long years they rioted in blood. To advance dynastic ambitions and national greed, millions of Armenian Christians were tortured, outraged and murdered; hapless Belgians were ravished and put to the sword, their cities made charnal heaps; millions of men—the fairest sons of many lands—gave up their lives, and anguished hearts sobbed out their grief in desolated homes, while generations to come will feel the crushing financial burdens this struggle has entailed with its heritage of woe.
We must now gain a general view of the events of the war. Every well-informed man or woman feels the necessity of such outline knowledge. It was not only the greatest war in history, but it was our war. Our liberties were threatened. Rivers and hamlets of France are invested with new interest. There, our American boys are sleeping; they died that our Republic might live. We may regard the annals of other wars with languid interest; those of this war grip our hearts, our breath comes quicker as we read; we experience a glow of patriotic pride. We shall let each year of the war tell its story. Of necessity we can only record the main events, the peaks of each year's achievements.
EVENTS OF 1914.
A state of war was declared to exist in Germany, July 31, 1914. Four days later Germany had mobilized five large armies with full supplies on the extended line from Metz northward along the eastern boundary of France—a distance of about 130 miles. That mobilization was a wonderful exhibition of military efficiency. From Verdun to Paris, slightly southwest, is also about 130 miles.
The German plan of campaign may be crudely stated as follows: Regard that extended line as a flail ready to fall, hinged near Verdun, moved in a circle until the northern tip, under command of Von Kluck, should fall with all the energy Germany could put into the blow on Paris. In the meantime, the other armies would crush back, outflank, defeat, and capture the small British and hastily mobilized French armies that confronted them along the entire line. It was believed that a short campaign would crush France, over-awe Great Britain, and end the war in the West. It was thought that six weeks would be ample to accomplish this result.
Germany expected that at the most a day or so would see Belgian resistance broken and the dash on Paris begun. It was not safe to start such a forward rush with Belgium unconquered. This was the first of many, many mistakes made by Germany. It required two weeks to break down this resistance. Thus the northern end of the flail was held and movement along the entire line was slowed down or suspended. The unexpected delay saved France. Let us remember this when we read the story of Belgium's martyrdom, a story written in blood. Then began the fulfillment of the threat of William II to the Prince of Monaco "the world will see what it never dreamed of." And truly the world never dreamed of the terrible scenes that attended the sack of Louvain (August 26). Not until after the situation in Belgium had been given a bloody setting did the first dash on Paris begin (August 23).
RETREAT TO THE MARNE.
We are now approaching the "Miracle of the Marne." The line of German armies along the eastern frontier of France were confronted by the forces of France, hastily mobilized during the delay occasioned by the heroic but pathetically futile resistance of Belgium. The first English army had also assumed a position before the menacing rush of the German forces. The only thing the Allies could do was to retreat. This movement, directed by General Joffre, was a remarkably able one. His plan was to give ground before the advance without risking a decisive battle until he could rearrange his forces and gain a favorable position. Only with difficulty was the retreat saved from becoming a great disaster when the British army was defeated at Mons-Charleroi (August 21-3). Apparently, the German forces were carrying everything before them as the retreat continued. The flail, swinging from Metz to Belgium, was falling with crushing effect along the entire front, the movement being very rapid at the western but slow at the eastern end. It was centered at Verdun because it was not safe to leave that fortress unconquered in the rear.
THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE MARNE.
The Marne is a small river in France, gently coursing from the water-shed south of Verdun to the Seine near Paris, its general course convex to the north. It will hereafter rank as one of the storied rivers of history, the scene of mighty battles, where the red tide of German success ebbed in its flow. The night of September 4, the German armies were in position along this river in an irregularly curved line slightly convex to the south from a point only twenty-five miles east of Paris to Verdun, one hundred and twenty-five miles, slightly to the northeast. The evening of that day, General Joffre issued orders for a general attack all along the line. His message to the French Senate was couched in words of deep meaning,—he had made, he said, the best disposition possible. France could only await in hope the outcome. The battle that began the next day continued for one week and ended with a victory for the Allies as the German armies were forced back everywhere, a varying distance, to a line of defense prepared back of the Aisne River, to the north and east. This was a marvelous result. Just as the world was waiting with bated breath to hear of the fall of Paris, it heard instead, that the German army was in retreat. It was truly a miracle. Why not see in it proof that a Power infinitely greater than that of man was directing events?
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE BATTLE.
The battle front covered a distance of about 125 miles. The forces engaged numbered about 1,500,000 men. Thus this battle far exceeds in magnitude the battle of Mukden, previously considered the greatest battle of modern times; while the great battle of Waterloo was an insignificant skirmish in comparison. It is of further interest to learn that Allied success was largely the result of the use of flying machines for scouting purposes, which enabled General Joffre to take instant advantage of tactical mistakes of General Von Kluck. The results were commensurate with the immensity of the struggle. Paris was saved; the first period of the war in the west was ended; Germany was rudely awakened from her dream of easy conquest.
THE BATTLE OF TANNENBERG.
The success of the Allies in the west was in a measure offset by Teutonic victories in the east. When the invasion of Belgium began, Russia made immediate efforts to counteract by invasion of East Prussia. She was successful to the extent of drawing to that section a number of army corps that would otherwise have taken part in the Marne campaign. These movements culminated in the battle of Tannenberg, commencing August 26, 1914. Tannenberg is nearly one hundred miles southeast of Konigsburg. This was the battle that gave General Von Hindenburg his fame. He was a native of East Prussia, and acquainted with the country, but had lived in retirement for some years. Appointed to command, he made such a skillful disposition of his troops that the Russian army was virtually annihilated, less than one corps escaped by headlong flight. According to German authority, 70,000 Russians were captured. General Von Hindenburg was acclaimed the greatest soldier of the day, and was immediately appointed field marshal in command of all the German forces in the east.
EVENTS OF 1915.
The year 1915 was one of meager results, the advantages remaining on the side of the Central Powers, with this understanding, however: The Allies were growing stronger because Great Britain was making rapid progress in marshaling her resources for war. On the west front, the long, irregular line of trenches, from Switzerland on the south to Ostend on the North Sea, marking the German retreat after the battle of the Marne, remained without substantial change. Do not understand there were no battles along that extended line. Almost daily there were conflicts that in former wars would have been given a place among the world's great battles. They are scarcely worth mentioning in the annals of this war. Back and forth across that narrow line surged the red tide without decisive changes in position. There were attacks and counter-attacks of the most sanguinary nature near Calais. The first instance of the use of gas in war occurred in these battles, at the second battle of Ypres, April 23, 1915.
ON THE EAST FRONT.
In spite of the great reverse at Tannenberg, Russia was not defeated. Her armies in Galicia (Northeastern Hungary) were winning important battles. A determined effort was made in 1915 by Germany to crush Russia and thus retire her from the war. For days at a time, on the railroads of East Germany, double headed trains were passing every fifteen minutes, loaded with troops and munitions withdrawn from the western front which accounts for the comparative quiet in that section, which in turn gave Great Britain time to prepare in earnest. And so it was that during a large part of 1915 Russia had to withstand the shock of war. Russian soldiers were brave; her generals able, but the whole official life was more or less corrupt.
The poison of German propaganda was at work. Her ammunition was totally insufficient. Immense supplies made in France according to specifications furnished by high officials in Russia did not fit the guns they were intended to serve. There were already signs of the approaching utter collapse of Russia as a world power, then more than a year distant in time. In spite of these drawbacks we read of brilliant but futile efforts of her poorly equipped army to stem the tide of Teutonic success that soon began.
Before the close of the year Poland was entirely overrun by German forces. It seemed for a time as if Petrograd itself must fall. In short, it was thought that Russia was crushed. Then it was that the Kaiser wrote to his sister, the Queen of Greece, "having crushed Russia, the rest of Europe will soon tremble before me." But when 1915 ended a line of trenches from Riga on the north to Czernowitz on the south still guarded the frontiers of Russia.
THE DARDANELLES CAMPAIGN.
This campaign began in December, 1914, and continued during 1915. It was an effort on the part of the Allies to force the Dardanelles, capture Constantinople, and inflict a crushing blow on Turkey. This effort was a dismal failure for the Allies, but had all the effect of a decisive victory for Turkey and her allies. The fact that the attack was failing had considerable to do with inducing Bulgaria to enter the war on the side of Germany. The immediate result of this step on the part of Bulgaria was the complete crushing of Serbia (October 6-December 2), and this in turn made possible full and free railroad transportation between Germany on the north and Turkey on the south. The net result was to greatly strengthen the Teutonic allies. The conduct of Turkey in the war was marked by most atrocious treatment of the Armenians. Belgium on the north, Armenia on the south, are blood-stained chapters in the annals of war.
EVENTS OF 1916.
Apparently believing that Russia was so badly crippled that she could not again peril Austria-Hungary or wrest Poland from the grasp of Germany, the latter country gathered her available resources for a decisive, crushing blow in France. We have several times mentioned Verdun. It is well to study its location on the map, about 130 miles slightly north of east of Paris. It is a city of great historic interest, beautifully located in the Meuse valley with its approach defended by low-lying ranges of hills through which lead numerous defiles. At this city, more than a thousand years ago, was concluded the celebrated treaty of Verdun that settled the disputes between the grandsons of Charlemagne, and this constitutes a landmark in the early history of France.
It was Verdun that held back the southern end of the flail wherewith France was to be crushed in 1914; in the battle of the Marne it held the eastern or left wing of the long German line, which could not advance and leave Verdun unsubdued in the rear. The German Crown Prince was in command near Verdun. His ideal was Napoleon. His private library contained nearly everything ever written about that great general. He was exceedingly anxious to pose as the conqueror of France. To strengthen his dynasty, the Kaiser was also anxious that his son should take a prominent part. Accordingly it was planned to gather an enormous army under his command, overwhelm Verdun and smash through to Paris. Thus Prince Wilhelm would be enrolled among the great commanders of history. Von Hindenburg was opposed to this plan, he wanted to finish up his work so happily begun in Russia. But the Crown Prince had his way; and immense supplies of guns, ammunition, and men were withdrawn from the eastern front and massed at Verdun.
THE GREAT BATTLE OF VERDUN.
The annals of history record no battle approaching in duration, artillery fire, and awful sacrifice than the battle that enveloped Verdun for six months, beginning February 21, 1916. Other battles have been fought along more extended fronts and thus engaged larger numbers of troops; but none ever presented in a more acute form the issue of national life or death. The stand of the heroic Greeks at Thermopylae denying passage to the hosts of Persia was not more vital to the cause of civilization than this storied defense of Verdun. The reflective writer can but notice that in every campaign of the war, when further success of the German armies meant victory, it was as if an unseen Power decreed "thus far and no further." It was so at Verdun. The French soldier, calmly going to death, chanting "They shall not pass," did not die in vain.
THE BATTLE ITSELF.
The French were taken somewhat by surprise as they had not expected such an early attack or that its fury would break at Verdun. Of course it was known that a great force was being assembled, but no one dreamed of the enormous concentration of guns of all kinds that were made. They literally cumbered the ground and the shells assembled were in keeping. The German generals were so confident of success that foreign correspondents were invited to be present to witness the resistless onslaught. The evening before the attack began there was a banquet at the German headquarters, the Kaiser and all his notable generals (but not Von Hindenburg) were present. The toast was "After four days, Verdun; then Paris." They estimated that it would take possibly three weeks to accomplish their ends. Evidently among the uninvited and unseen guests were Defeat and Death.
The attack that commenced the next day lasted with but slight interruptions until October. It is interesting to remark that more shot and shell were used in this battle than the total used during the four years of the Civil War in America on both sides. Verdun itself was reduced to ruins. Considerable portions of the fortified area to the north of Verdun were captured, including the important forts Douamont and Vaux, but the entire attack failed. The minor successes achieved were won with an appalling loss of life and were easily retaken by the French later in the fall. Verdun was renamed by the German soldiers as "The Grave," and such it truly was to the hopes of victory and peace that inspired the toast at the Verdun banquet.
CONQUEST OF ROUMANIA.
Roumania is one of the Balkan States. Her entry into the second Balkan war in 1913 was one of the decisive factors against Bulgaria. After the entry of Bulgaria into the World War in 1915 the pressure became very strong on Roumania by Russia to come into the war on the side of the Allies. The summer of 1916 Russia had reorganized her forces, and the war in the west was going against Germany at Verdun and along the Somme. This was deemed an opportune time for Roumania to enter the war and so, with no principles at stake, Roumania declared war on Austria, August 27, 1916. The response of Germany and Bulgaria to this new menace was prompt and decisive. Before the end of the year Roumania was crushed, the capital city, Bucharest, was taken. Roumania was not at all prepared to wage war on the scale this war had assumed, but the immediate cause of her easy conquest was the failure of Russia to keep her promises of assistance. Russia, undermined by German intrigue, with traitors at court, was already tottering to her fall.
EVENTS OF 1917.
The year 1917 witnessed startling changes in the grouping of the belligerent powers. The three largest republics in the world—China, Brazil, and the United States,—were drawn into the war on the side of the Entente Allies. Other small nations, members of the Pan-American Union, joined with the United States in this action. Other South American nations showed their sympathy with the United States by severing diplomatic relations with Germany. In Europe, Greece made a formal declaration of war July 2, 1917. Thus all of the Balkan States were finally involved. To complete the record, we must note that Siam in Asia and Liberia in Africa also joined the Entente Allies. Never before in history had there been such an alignment of nations for purposes of war. It was significant of one thing,—growing resentment against what had long been recognized as the criminal ambitions of Germany to dominate the world.
THE UNITED STATES IN WAR.
April 6, 1917, will hereafter be one of the most important dates in the annals of this republic. Then it was that Congress in a joint resolution declared a state of war existed between the United States and Germany, and authorized the President to employ the naval and military power of our country to carry on the war and pledged all our resources to that end. We can now see that the hidden currents of national destiny were tending in an irresistible way to war on the part of the United States. Every consideration of national safety and every principle that we hold dear, demanded that we should respond to the call of the President to arms. Then commenced the wonderful preparations for war on the part of the United States. Official Germany in conversation with Minister Gerard, before the rupture of diplomatic relations, laughed to scorn the thought that the United States could render any military aid worth considering to her allies. Germany in the fall of 1917 was not laughing.
THE COLLAPSE OF RUSSIA.
The collapse of Russia was the second great event of 1917. It was the result of a long train of causes. Let it suffice to say that treachery in high places backed by German propaganda, had undermined the government. March 15, 1917, the storm broke. The utter overthrow of autocratic rule in Russia was one of those explosive outbreaks, but few of which have occurred in history. In a single day the old order of government passed away never to return in Russia. It was a revolution as thoroughgoing as its prototype, the French revolution of 1789, and it soon developed equal scenes of horror. After some months of struggle, the government of Russia passed under the control of the Bolsheviki and anarchy followed, outdoing the scenes of the French commune. The immediate effect on the war was to retire Russia from the conflict, thus releasing a large army and its supplies for service elsewhere.
THE ITALIAN REVERSE.
Having achieved such signal successes in the east, Russia and Roumania being both disposed of, the German leaders planned a campaign designed to crush Italy. In the summer of 1917 the Italian front was along the Isonza River in Austrian territory. The test of Italian endurance was at hand. A great force of Austrians and Germans was assembled along the river. As was usual in all Teutonic drives, endeavors were made by propaganda work to break down the morale of the Italian troops. This effort consisted in spreading fearsome accounts of the crushing nature of the blow about to fall, the folly of further resistance, and the advantages to be gained by accepting the generous terms of peace their true friends—their former allies—were ready to grant. This effort had an effect, but Italy was not Russia.
The drive began October 24th. It was a very pronounced Teutonic success, though the great object of the drive was not achieved. In three weeks' time the Italians were forced back from the Isonza to the Piava River line; nearly 200,000 soldiers had been captured, together with immense supplies of all kinds. But yet Italy was not crushed, the German forces were firmly held along the Piava. We should reflect that in the World War millions were engaged and the loss of one or even two hundred thousand men did not mean the end of the war.
EVENTS OF 1918.
The Allies could only hope to defend their position on the west front against the impending offensive on the part of Germany, for which preparations on a vast scale were being made, until reinforcements from the United States could reach them sufficient to enable them to take the offensive in their turn. Germany hastened its preparations through the winter months of 1917-18, for they knew they must win a decisive victory to crush the armies of France and England before the United States could give efficient assistance. It was a race between America and Germany, and America won. With the assistance of the British and French merchant marine and such shipping as could be procured at home the American forces were landed in France in the most astonishing numbers ever recorded. The fears of Germany, the hopes of the Allies were alike exceeded by the forces sent across the ocean. The first of July, 1918, there were one million American soldiers in France. They came just in time to avert disaster.
GERMAN OFFENSIVE IN 1918.
The initiative was with Germany, and the German command selected the British army in position along the Scarpe River, north of Cambria, to the Oise River—a distance of sixty miles—as the object of the first drive. The assault began the morning of March 21, 1918. Along the entire front the artillery fire that opened the drive was on the scale never before approached in war. More than one million men, the choicest troops of Germany, were ready to assault the British lines and they came on, wave after wave, and Germany came perilously near success in her efforts to break through the British lines. The British were driven back beyond the lines of the battle of the Somme in 1916, important towns were captured, but their lines still held. The first phase of the great battle—known in history as the battle of Picardy—was a defeat to German hopes.
WHEN THE AMERICANS CAME.
From the opening of the great offense of March 21, 1918, to the signing of the armistice, November 11, 1918, there were few days when there were not battles raging at several places along the west front extending from near Metz in a prolonged sweep, west to Rheims, thence in an irregular curved line convex toward Paris curving to the North Sea near Dixmude approximately 250 miles in length. There were days and weeks when battles of great intensity raged at certain sections, then died away in that vicinity to break in fury elsewhere. Organized efforts on a large scale in certain directions were called drives. Until July the initiative was with Germany, that is to say the Allies were on the defensive. They were waiting for reinforcements from America. Germany was making desperate efforts to win a decisive victory and force peace on their terms before effective aid could arrive.
TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES OF BATTLE.
At this point try to realize what these statements imply. We do not grasp their meaning. A battle front of two hundred and fifty miles! And along that line at least ten million men were facing each other with other millions in reserve. Trench lines were strung along most of the front. Not simply one line of trenches, but several, with connecting trenches, the opposing lines being at places only a few hundred yards apart. As the struggle continued, however, it became more and more a war in the open.
This series of struggles are undoubtedly the greatest exertion of military power in the history of the world. Never before had such masses of munitions been used; never before had scientific knowledge been so drawn on in the service of war. Thousands of airplanes were patrolling the air, sometimes scouting, sometimes dropping bombs on hostile troops or on hostile stores, sometimes flying low, firing their machine guns into the faces of marching troops. Thousands upon thousands of great guns were sending enormous projectiles, which made great pits wherever they fell. Swarms of machine guns were pouring their bullets like water from a hose upon charging soldiers. It was an inferno such as Dante never dreamed of. The Fifteen Decisive Battles of history of which we have heard—all put together,—were exceeded day after day in the summer of 1918 when Germany was making her last desperate effort. Thus for weeks the red tide of war ebbed and flowed, while civilization trembled in the balance.
It was clearly seen by the Allied leaders that appointing a generalissimo to command all their forces was a necessity. This command was given to General Ferdinand Foch, who had won fame in the battle of the Marne and who was recognized as one of the greatest strategists of the day. Events soon demonstrated the wisdom of this step. No general ever commanded such armies as he. Napoleon, Von Moltke, Grant and Lee were great generals, but everything connected with this war was on a scale never before approached, and we can say that the qualities of leadership displayed by Marshal Foch were necessarily on a higher plane of action—and we can say this without in the least detracting from the just fame of other Allied commanders—as Pershing, Haig, Allenby, Diaz and others. When the war opened, Germany had much to say about her unconquerable army; her generals were supposed to be superior in a military way to any others. The war showed that other soldiers were just as brave, other generals just as able. The fetish of German military invincibility was early overthrown.
No American can read the story of the part America took in the war without experiencing a glow of patriotic feeling. Every Allied nation can say the same thing. We came late into the struggle, but no nation in history ever made such wonderful preparation for war as did our country in the eighteen months that elapsed from the declaration of war to the signing of the armistice. Our preparations in France, representing only a part of our total effort, were on such an enormous scale, that neutral nations—as Sweden and Spain—sent trusted officials to investigate if it were possibly true that America was making such colossal preparations; could it be that men by the hundreds of thousands were disembarking on European soil every week? Were such forces drilled? Were supplies sent them? It was almost unbelievable. Surely, it must be American brag. They came, they saw, they departed convinced but in bewildered wonderment. It was the slowly growing realization of what this preparation meant that spurred Germany on during the early summer of 1918. But it was too late. Already the handwriting of defeat was outlining in letters of fire on the wall.
AGAIN THE MARNE.
May 27, 1918, the Germans opened a drive towards Paris. It resulted in a deep bulge in the line from Rheims west to Soissons, once more the German line in that section had reached the Marne. It was a time of great anxiety in the Allied world. The German tide was rolling on about seven miles a day toward Paris about fifty miles distant to the southwest. The German commanders felt sure of success and were talking about the "strong German peace" they would enforce. The war minister assured the Reichstag that they must exact at least $50,000,000,000 as indemnity, while their economic writers devised an elaborate plan whereby all the trade of the world was to pay tribute to Germany. It was another case of "Thus far and no farther."
Chateau Thierry was a thriving city, about 6,000 in population, on the Marne River, approximately 50 miles northeast of Paris. It is in a fertile valley. There amid fields of ripening wheat the advancing troops of Germany were suddenly confronted by American marines, hurried to the scene of action in motor driven vehicles of all descriptions from Paris. The forces that faced them, bent on forcing a passage to Paris were composed of the best Prussian guards and shock troops. They felt perfectly confident they could drive the Americans back. But the amateurs went into the battle (the afternoon of June 2) as calmly as if going to drill on the parade ground. Instead of being driven from the field they repulsed the seasoned veterans of Germany. It was at a cruel loss to themselves, 1,600 dead, 2,500 wounded out of 8,000 that came from Paris on that journey of victory and death; but they never faltered. This was not a battle of great dimensions but it is among the most important battles of the war. It saved Paris; but that is not all. When the news of that battle was flashed up and down the west front, not an Allied force but was thrilled, enthused, given new courage; the message that the Americans had stopped the Germans at Chateau Thierry, electrified Paris. Strong men wept as they realized that the forces of the Great Republic, able and brave, stood between France and the ravening wolf of Germany.
In the limited space at our command we can only give a general description of the remaining weeks of warfare in which American forces participated. Before advancing at Chateau Thierry the Germans had fortified their position in Belleau Woods which they had previously occupied. In the black recesses of this woods they established nest after nest of machine guns and in the jungle of matted underbrush, of vines, of heavy foliage they had placed themselves in a position they believed impregnable. The battle of Chateau Thierry was not rendered secure until the Germans were driven from Belleau Woods. And so for the next three weeks the battle of Belleau Woods raged. Fighting day after day without relief, without sleep, often without water, and for days without hot rations, the marines met and defeated the best divisions Germany could throw into the line. According to official decree in France the name of that woods is now "Woods of the American Brigade." In September, came the wonderful work of reducing the St. Mihiel salient to the south and to the east of Verdun, a German wedge that had withstood every effort to drive it back for four years. We can only mention the series of battles that took place in the Forest of the Argonne. When the armistice was declared American forces had fought their way to Sedan. That was the place that witnessed the deep humiliation of France in the war of 1870 with which the German Empire began. Germany was only saved from a deeper humiliation near Sedan in this war that ended that empire, by the prompt signing of the armistice.
THE DOWNFALL OF TURKEY.
We must notice even in a hurried review of the war the downfall of Turkey, the release of ancient Mesopotamia, Palestine, and large parts of Asia Minor, and freeing the ancient Christian nation of Armenia from the dreadful despotism of Turkish misrule. It is impossible to go into the details of the successive movements leading to this happy result. The forces of Great Britain, under command of General Maud, later General Allenby, must be given the credit. We must not forget that Mesopotamia was the cradle land of early civilization. There are the plains of Shinar, there are the ruins of Babylon and Nineveh. Now, that Turkish rule has been overthrown, we may look to see that entire country once more a scene of smiling fertility.
And consider the case of Palestine, the land of Biblical history, the home of Abraham, and the scene of Old Testament activities; finally there is the land forever hallowed by the ministrations of Jesus of Nazareth. It was the goal of the religious wars of the Crusades. For more than six centuries it groaned under Turkish misrule. The tide of British success began in 1917. In December of that year (9th) Jerusalem was taken by the British forces under command of General Allenby. During 1918 all Palestine was freed. September 20, 1918, Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, was taken. The future of Palestine with its wealth of Biblical history is a wonderful theme for contemplation. Given the blessings of a twentieth century government there is no reason why Palestine should not once more become a land "flowing with milk and honey."
THE APPROACHING END.
The ending of the war was almost as dramatically sudden as its beginning. As late as July 15, 1918, according to statements of German leaders, they still believed they were to be successful; less than four months later at Senlis, France, their representatives signed an armistice, the terms of which were the most drastic and humiliating ever inflicted on a prominent nation; while the Kaiser and Crown Prince had fled for safety to Holland, a nation they had asserted existed only by the long sufferance of Germany. Before the fatal day (November 11, 1918) of the armistice—like the falling of a house of cards—had occurred a succession of abject surrenders, as one by one of the nations composing the Teutonic Alliance had fallen before the crushing blows of the Entente forces.
The middle of July the great German offensive was held. It was expected by the German leaders that, as in the past, there would now ensue a period of comparative quiet along the west front during which Germany could rearrange her forces, perhaps to open an attack elsewhere. Marshal Foch—ably seconded by General Pershing and General Haig—thought differently. There were one million American soldiers on the fighting line, other millions were coming, Great Britain had thrown into France her reserve army held in England to meet unforeseen emergencies. Then was the time to begin a counter-attack. Accordingly, just as a German official was explaining to the Reichstag that General Foch had no reserves to withstand a fresh onslaught that Germany would soon begin,—the blow fell. A great counter-attack was initiated by the French and Americans along the Marne-Aisne front July 18, 1918.
THE ALLIES TAKE THE INITIATIVE.
From that day to the signing of the armistice the initiative remained with General Foch. Up and down the long line, now here, now there; the British and Belgians on the north, the French and Americans on the south, first one, then the other, then together, the Allies drove forward with hammer blows on the yielding German armies. That subtle force, so hard to define, the morale of the invaders, was broken down. Their confidence was gone. They knew they were defeated. The one hope of their leaders was to get safely back to Germany, and soon a general retreat was in progress. But to remove armies aggregating several million men, with guns and supplies, from a contracted area, in the face of a victorious and aggressive enemy, without the retreat degenerating into a rout is almost impossible; it requires generalship of highest order. Day by day the remorseless jaws of the Allied military machine, hinged to the north of the Aisne,—British and Belgian forces on the north, French in the center, Americans on the south and east,—were closing, and when the American forces fought their way through the Argonne to Sedan (forty miles northeast of Rheims) the case was hopeless. Only the armistice saved Germany from the humiliation of a surrender, on a scale vastly greater than the surrender of the French armies near that same point in 1870.
THE COLLAPSE OF THE TEUTONIC ALLIES.
With Germany herself falling, it is not strange that the nations leagued with her also went down to defeat. They had been almost forced into the war by Germany; not one of them could carry on a war when deprived of counsel and help from Germany. Only the threat of force kept Austria in the war. As the counter-attack in France gained in force, as the retreat continued, it was recognized on all hands that the end was approaching. The will to war—the morale—was completely broken down; and so on every side the Allied forces gained great victories with surprising ease.
Bulgaria was the first nation to surrender. This was the conclusion of a succession of great victories beginning September 16, 1918, ending by the surrender ten days later. The case with Turkey was hopeless after Bulgaria fell. No reinforcements or supplies could reach them from Germany. The English forces under General Allenby were carrying everything before them. Turkey surrendered October 31, 1918. Austria-Hungary was the third power to surrender. This came as the culmination of one of the greatest drives of the war.
GREAT ITALIAN VICTORY.
In 1917—as we have seen,—Italy suffered a great reverse, losing 200,000 soldiers and immense supplies. In August, 1918, Austria renewed the attack. In his proclamation to his soldiers, the Austrian commander bade them remember "the white bread, the fat cattle, the wine" and supplies they had won the year before. Surely as great rewards awaited them this time, and learned professors assured them and the entire nation that they belonged to a "conquering superior race" and so could be confident of further victory. The drive was a "hunger offensive" on the part of hard-pressed Austria. It was a dismal failure. It is interesting to know that American airplanes, piloted by Americans, rendered great assistance in repulsing this attack. Then came the counter-attack. In this drive American forces assisted. The drive began October 27th; it was attended by a series of most astonishing victories. The drive culminated in the abject surrender of Austria, November 3, 1918. The victories can only be explained by the fact that the morale of the Austrian troops had completely broken down, more than 500,000 prisoners being taken, together with enormous supplies.
THE GERMAN ARMISTICE.
With their armies perilously near rout on the western front, with a great military disaster confronting them, with everyone of her allies forced to surrender, with revolution threatening at home, there was nothing left for Germany to do but to make the best terms possible. Their commissioners met General Foch at Senlis and the drastic armistice terms were signed at 5 o'clock, Paris time, the morning of November 11, 1918, and the last shots in the war were fired at 11 o'clock, that forenoon, Paris time. The war had lasted (from the date of the declaration of war on Serbia) four years, three months and thirteen days. On subsequent pages we shall consider more in detail this skeletonized story, study the enormous political, geographic and economic changes it has necessitated, and mentally view the new age in history at hand.
GENERAL PERSHING'S OWN STORY OF THE VICTORIOUS AMERICAN ARMY
ORGANIZATION OF HIS GENERAL STAFF—TRAINING IN FRANCE—IN THE AISNE OFFENSIVE—AT CHATEAU THIERRY—THE ST. MIHIEL SALIENT—MEUSE-ARGONNE, FIRST PHASE—THE BATTLE IN THE FOREST—SUMMARY.
This is a brief summary of the organization and operations of the American Expeditionary Force from May 26, 1917, until the signing of the armistice, November 11, 1918. Immediately 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 equaled by the readiness of the commanders in chief of the veteran armies of the Allies and their staffs to place their experience at our disposal. In consultation with them the most effective means of co-operation of effort was considered. With French and British armies at their maximum strength, and all efforts to dispossess the enemy from his firmly intrenched positions in Belgium and France failed, it was necessary to plan for an American force adequate to turn the scale in favor of the Allies. Taking account of the strength of the Central Powers at that time, the immensity of the problem which confronted us could hardly be over-estimated. The first requisite being an organization that could give intelligent direction to effort, the formation of a General Staff occupied my early attention.
ORGANIZATION OF GENERAL STAFF.
A well organized General Staff through which the commander exercises his functions is essential to a successful modern army. However capable our division, our battalion, and our companies as such, success would be impossible without thoroughly co-ordinated endeavor. A General Staff broadly organized and trained for war had not hitherto existed in our army. Under the Commander-in-Chief, this staff must carry out the policy and direct the details of administration, supply, preparation, and operations of the army as a whole, with all special branches and bureaus subject to its control. As models to aid us we had the veteran French General Staff and the experience of the British who had similarly formed an organization to meet the demands of a great army. By selecting from each the features best adapted to our basic organization, and fortified by our own early experience in the war, the development of our great General Staff system was completed.
The General Staff is naturally divided into five groups, each with its chief who is an assistant to the Chief of the General Staff. G.1 is in charge of organization and equipment of troops, replacements, tonnage, priority of overseas shipment, the auxiliary welfare association and cognate subjects; G.2 has censorship, enemy intelligence, gathering and disseminating information, preparation of maps, and all similar subjects; G.3 is charged with all strategic studies and plans, movement of troops, and the supervision of combat operations; G.4 co-ordinates important questions of supply, construction, transport arrangements for combat, and of the operations of the service of supply, and of hospitalization and the evacuation of the sick and wounded; G.5 supervises the various schools and has general direction and co-ordination of education and training.
The first Chief of Staff was Colonel (now Major-General) James G. Harbord, who was succeeded in May, 1918, by Major-General James W. McAndrew. To these officers, to the deputy Chief of Staff, and to the assistant Chiefs of Staff, who, as heads of sections, aided them, great credit is due for the results obtained not only in perfecting the General Staff organization but in applying correct principles to the multiplicity of problems that have arisen.
ORGANIZATION OF THE FORCES.
After a thorough consideration of Allied organizations it was decided that our combat division should consist of four regiments of infantry of 3,000 men, 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 practically double the size of a French or German division. Each corps would normally consist of six divisions—four combat and one depot and one replacement division—and also two regiments of cavalry, and each army 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 integral 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 battalions, and a third month after it came out of the trenches when it should be trained as a complete division in war of movement.
SCHOOLS OF INSTRUCTION.
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 center 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 experience.
The eventual place the American army should take on the western front was to a large extent influenced by the vital question 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.
VAST PREPARATIONS NECESSARY.
With such a problem any temporization or lack of definiteness in making plans might cause failure even with victory within our grasp. Moreover, broad plans commensurate with 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 depots.
All these considerations led to the inevitable 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. Generally speaking, then, this would contemplate 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.
WORK OF THE DEPARTMENTS.
As to organization, all the administrative and supply services, except the Adjutant General's, Inspector General's, and Judge Advocates 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.
TRANSPORTATION AND ENGINEER'S DEPARTMENT.
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, Montoir, and Gievres, 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.
PURCHASES IN EUROPE.
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 business-like.
ARTILLERY, AIRPLANES AND TANKS.
Our entry into the war found us with few of the auxiliaries 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 howitzers, and one-fifty-five GPF guns from their own factories for 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 calibers 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 August 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.
OUR OBLIGATIONS TO FRANCE.
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.
CAMP WELFARE WORK.
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 auxiliaries 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 other 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 periods 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 Twenty-sixth on April 20, in the Toul sector, but none had participated in action as a unit. The First 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.
TROOPS PLACED UNDER MARSHAL FOCH.
On March 28 I placed at the disposal of Marshal Foch who had been agreed upon as Commander-in-Chief of the Allied armies, all of our forces to be used as he might decide. At his request the First 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.
THE CANTIGNY OPERATIONS.
On April 26 the First 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 counter-attacks 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 GERMAN AISNE OFFENSIVE.
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 Third 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 Second 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 Second was relieved, it captured the village of Vaux with most splendid precision.
Meanwhile our Second Corps, under Maj. 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 the Vosges and two to the Paris area to join the group of American divisions which stood between the city and any farther advance of the enemy in that direction.
OPERATIONS NEAR RHEIMS.
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 Forty-second 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 Twenty-eighth Division were in position in face of the advancing waves of the German infantry. The Third 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 Third 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.
BEGINNING OF THE COUNTER ATTACK.
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 First and Second 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 First Division continued to advance until it had gained the heights above Soissons and captured the village of Berzy-le-sec. The Second 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 SOISSONS ATTACK.
The Twenty-sixth Division, which, with a French division, was under command of our First Corps, acted as a pivot of the movement toward Soissons. On the 18th it took the village of Torcy, while the Third Division was crossing the Marne in pursuit of the retiring enemy. The Twenty-sixth attacked again on the 21st, and the enemy withdrew past the Chateau-Thierry-Soissons road. The Third 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 Forty-second Division, which had been brought over from the Champagne, relieved the Twenty-sixth 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 Third and Fourth Divisions were already advancing, while the French divisions with which we were co-operating were moving forward at other points.
The Third Division had made its advance into Roncheres Wood on the 29th and was relieved for rest by a brigade of the Thirty-second. The Forty-second and Thirty-second undertook the task of conquering the heights beyond Cierges, the Forty-second capturing Sergy and the Thirty-second 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 Forty-second was relieved by the Fourth at Chery-Chartreuve, and the Thirty-second by the Twenty-eighth, while the Seventy-seventh Division took up a position on the Vesle. The operations of these divisions on the Vesle were under the Third Corps, Maj. Gen. Robert L. Bullard, commanding.
BATTLE OF ST. MIHIEL.
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 August 10 under my personal command. While American units had held different divisional and corps 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 August 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 afterwards extended across the Meuse to the western edge of the Argonne Forest, and included the Second Colonial French, which held the point of the salient, and the Seventeenth French Corps, which occupied the heights above Verdun.
PREPARATION FOR THE ATTACK.
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 of 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, with its personnel, and we were confident from the start of our superiority over the enemy in guns of all calibers. 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 aviation that had ever been engaged in one operation on the western front.