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Title: Our Army at the Front
Author: Broun, Heywood, 1888-1939
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



[Illustration: _From a painting by F. C. Yohn._

The battle of Seicheprey.

"All through the night the artillerymen sent their shells, encasing
themselves in gas masks." (_Page_ 225)]



_AMERICA IN THE WAR_

OUR ARMY AT THE FRONT

BY

HEYWOOD BROUN

FORMERLY CORRESPONDENT FOR THE "NEW YORK TRIBUNE" WITH THE
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1922

COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                          PAGE

I. THE LANDING OF PERSHING          1

II. "VIVE PAIR-SHANG!"             11

III. THE FIRST DIVISION LANDS      29

IV. THE FOURTH OF JULY             44

V. WHAT THEY LIVED IN              53

VI. GETTING THEIR STRIDE           66

VII. SPEEDING UP                   81

VIII. BACK WITH THE BIG GUNS       96

IX. THE EYES OF THE ARMY          107

X. THE SCHOOLS FOR OFFICERS       117

XI. SOME DISTINGUISHED VISITORS   124

XII. THE MEN WHO DID EVERYTHING   134

XIII. BEHIND THE LINES            145

XIV. FRANCE AND THE MEDICOES      158

XV. IN CHARGE OF MORALE           168

XVI. INTO THE TRENCHES            177

XVII. OUR OWN SECTOR              189

XVIII. A CIVILIAN VISITOR         200

XIX. A FAMOUS GESTURE             212

XX. THE FIRST TWO BATTLES         224

XXI. TEUFEL-HUNDEN                237

XXII. THE ARMY OF MANŒUVRE        248

XXIII. ST. MIHIEL                 266

XXIV. MEUSE-ARGONNE BEGINS        279

XXV. CEASE FIRING                 291

GENERAL PERSHING'S REPORT         301



ILLUSTRATIONS

The battle of Seicheprey                              _Frontispiece_

                                                        FACING PAGE

General Pershing in Paris, July, 1917                            16

Buglers of the Alpine Chasseurs, assisted by their military
band, entertaining American soldiers of the First
Division                                                         64

U. S. locomotive-assembling yards in France                     154

Red Cross Hospital at Neuilly, formerly the American
Ambulance Hospital                                              166

Secretary Baker riding on flat car during his tour of inspection
of the American Expeditionary Forces                            202

U. S. Marines in readiness to march to the front                244

The capture of Sergy                                            262



OUR ARMY AT THE FRONT

CHAPTER I

THE LANDING OF PERSHING


A ship warped into an English port. Along her decks were lines of
soldiers, of high and low degree, all in khaki. From the shore end of
her gang-plank other lines of soldiers spread out like fan-sticks, some
in khaki, some in the two blues of land and sea fighters. Decorating the
fan-sticks were the scarlet and gold of staff-officers, the blue and
gold of naval officers, the yellow and gold of land officers, and the
black of a few distinguished civilians.

At the end of one shore-line of khaki one rigid private stood out from
the rest, holding for dear life to a massive white goat. The goat was
the most celebrated mascot in the British Army, and this was an affair
of priceless consequence, but that was no sign the goat intended to
behave himself, and the private was responsible.

Weaving through this picture of military precision, three little groups
of men waited restlessly to get aboard the ship. One was the lord mayor
of the port city, his gilt chains of office blazing in the forenoon
brightness, with his staff; another was the half-dozen or so of
distinguished statesmen, diplomats, and military heroes bringing formal
welcome to England; the third was the war correspondents and reporters
from the London newspapers.

The waiting was too keen and anxious for talk. Excitement raced from man
to man.

For the ship was the _Baltic_. The time was the morning of June 8, 1917.
The event was the landing of John J. Pershing, commander of America's
Expeditionary Force. And the soldiers with him were the herald of
America's coming--the holding of her drive with an outpost.

When the grandchildren of those soldiers learn that date in their
history lessons it is safe to assume that all its historical
significance will be fairly worked out and articulate.

It is equally safe to say that in the moment of its happening few if
any of its participants, even the most consequential and far-seeing, had
a personal sense of making history. Of all the pies that one may not
both eat and have, the foremost is that very taking part in a great
occasion. All the fun of it is being got by the man who stays at home
and reads the newspapers, undistracted by the press of practical matters
in hand.

True, for the landing of General Pershing there was the color of
soldiery, the blare of brass bands, the ring of great names among the
welcomers. There was, of course, the overtone picture of a great
chieftain, marching in advance of a great army, come to foreign lands to
add their might to what, with their coming, was then a world in arms.
The future might see, blended with the gray hulk of the _Baltic_, the
shadowy shape of the _Mayflower_ coming back, still carrying men bound
to the service of world freedom.

But what they saw that morning was, after all, a very modern landing,
from a very modern ship, with sailors hastily tying down a gang-plank,
and doing it very well because they had done it just that way so many
times before.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were down to give a military welcome, with
their mascot and their crack band. The lord mayor, Lieutenant-General
Pitcairn Campbell, Admiral Stileman, and other men from both arms of
England's service were there, not to feel of their feelings, but to make
the landing as agreeable and convenient as possible, and to convey to
General Pershing, with Anglo-Saxon mannerliness and reticence, their
great pleasure at having him come.

As soon as there was access to the ship General Campbell and Admiral
Stileman went aboard and introduced themselves to General Pershing. They
met, also, a few of the American staff-officers, and returned salutes
from the privates who made up the Pershing entourage of 168 men.

There were congratulations on the ship's safe arrival, which reminded
General Pershing and some of his officers that they wanted, before
leaving the ship, to pay their respects to the skipper who had carried
them through the danger zone without so much as a sniff at a submarine.

This done, the little company of officers walked down the gang-plank,
talking cheerily of their satisfaction at meeting, of their hard work on
the ship, of the weather, and what-not, all the while the soldiers on
the decks behind them waved hands and handkerchiefs in a general
overflow of well-being, and finally--set foot in England!

One may not go too far in describing the contents of a general's mind
without some help from him, but it's a fair guess that if General
Pershing is as kin to his kind as he seems to be, the very precise
moment of this setting foot in England escaped his notice altogether,
and was left free for the historian to embroider how he pleased. For
General Pershing was in the act of being led to the salute of a guard of
honor by General Campbell. And almost immediately after that precise
moment the Welsh Fusiliers' band began the "Star-Spangled Banner," and
again it's a good bet that General Pershing and his staff thought not a
thing about England and a lot about home.

But so the historic moment came, and so it went. And presently the
American vanguard was finding its places in the special train to
London.

Perhaps England knew that a great hour was in the making, for her
rolling green hills gave back the warmth of a splendid sun, and her
hedgerows and wild blooms braved forth in crystal air. Those of the
newcomers who saw England first that afternoon thanked their stars
fervently that England and democracy were on the same side.

In mid-afternoon the train reached London, and here the Americans were
greeted, not alone by soldiers and England, but by the English. The
secret of their coming, carefully kept, had given the port civilians no
chance. But they knew it in London and the station was crowded to its
doors.

General Pershing stepped from the train as soon as it stopped.
Ambassador Walter Hines Page came over to him, both hands outstretched,
and asked leave to introduce another general who had taken an
Expeditionary Force to France--General Sir John French. Other
introductions followed--to Lord Derby, General Lord Brooke, and Sir
Francis Lloyd. And there was a hearty handshake from a fighter who
needed no introduction--Rear-Admiral William E. Sims.

Inside and outside the station the civilians cheered. None of them
needed to have General Pershing pointed out to them. He was
unmistakable. No man ever looked more the ordained leader of fighting
men. He was tall, broad, and deep-chested, splendidly set up; and to the
care with which Providence had fashioned him he had added soldierly care
of his own.

He might have been patterned upon the Freudian dream of Julius Cæsar, if
Julius was in truth the unsoldierly looking person they made him out to
be, whose majesty lay wholly in his own mind's eye.

The gallant look of General Pershing fanned the London friendliness to
contagious flames of enthusiasm. He and his officers were cheered to
their hotel, the soldiers were cheered to their barracks in the Tower of
London.

At the hotel they found three floors turned over to them, arranged for
good, hard work, with plenty of desk-room, and boy and girl scouts for
running errands. Squarely in the entrance was a money-changer's desk,
with a patient man in charge who could, and did, name the number of
cents to the shilling once every minute for four days. A little English
lady who visited America complained bitterly, just after arrival, "Why
didn't they make their dollar just four shillings?" thereby summing up
the only really valid source of acrimony between England and America.
The money-changer made the international amity complete.

Once installed, General Pershing and his staff fell to and worked,
continuing the organization that had been roughly blocked out on the
_Baltic_, and building up the liaison between English and American army
procedure, begun by the help of British and Canadian officers on board,
by frequent conferences with England's State, War, and Navy Departments.

The day after the arrival General Pershing went to "breakfast at
Windsor," the first meeting between America's fighter and England's
King. Here, at last, the momentousness of the matter found voice.

King George, having done with the introductory greeting, said earnestly:
"I cannot tell you how much your coming means to me. It has been the
great dream of my life that my country and yours would join in some
great enterprise ... and here you are...."

After this visit, prolonged by an inspection of the historic treasures
of Windsor Castle, General Pershing made the rule of unbroken work for
himself and his officers till his task in London was finished and he
should leave for France to join his First Division.

He made what he expected to be a single exception to this rule. He went
to a dinner-party, at which he met Lloyd-George, Arthur Balfour, just
back from his American mission, and half a dozen others of commensurate
distinction. He found that his exception was no exception at all. The
English do not merely have the reputation of doing their real work at
their dinner-parties--they deserve that reputation. Staff-officers,
telling all about it later on, said that it could hardly have been
distinguished from a cabinet meeting, or a report from the Secretary of
State for War. So were the final plans made and the business of the
nations settled.

Concerning all these meetings and all the national feeling that was
behind them, General Pershing and his officers were of one voice--that
England's welcome had been precisely of the sort that pleased them most.
It was reticent, charming, too genuine for much open expression, too
chivalrous at heart to be obtrusive.

What with spending most of each twenty-four hours at work, the American
vanguard finished up its affairs in four days. And early on the morning
of June 13, long before the break of day, General Pershing and his
officers and men boarded their Channel boat, the _Invicta_, and set sail
for France.



CHAPTER II

"VIVE PAIR-SHANG!"


THE _Invicta_ came into Boulogne harbor in the early morning, to find
that her attempts at a secret crossing had amounted to nothing at all.
Everybody within sight and ear-shot was out to show how pleased he was,
riotously and openly, indifferent alike to the hopes of spy or censor.

The fishing-boats, the merchant coastwise fleet, the Channel ships and
hordes of little privately owned sloops and yawls and motor-boats all
plied chipperly around with "bannières étoilées" fore and aft. The sun
was very bright and the water was very blue, and between them was that
exhilarating air which always rises over the coasts of France, whenever
and wherever you land on them, which not all the smoke and grime of the
world's biggest war could deaden or destroy.

The _Invicta's_ own flags were run up at the harbor mouth. Again the
lines of khaki-colored soldiers formed behind the deck-rails, and again
the chieftain from overseas stood at the prow of his ship and waited the
coming of a historic moment.

When the _Invicta_ was made fast and her gang-plank went over, there was
a half-circle of space cleared in the quay in front of her by a
detachment of grizzled French infantrymen, their horizon-blue uniforms
filmed over with the yellow dust of a long march.

Behind the infantrymen the good citizens of Boulogne were yelling their
throats dry. When General Pershing stopped for an instant's survey at
the head of the gang-plank, with his staff-officers close behind him,
the roar of welcome swelled to thunder and resounded out to sea. When he
marched down and stepped to the quay, there was a sudden, arresting
silence. Every soldier was at salute, and every civilian, too. In that
tense instant a new world was beginning, and though it was as formless
as all beginnings, the unerringly dramatic and sensitive French paid the
tribute of silence to its birth. The future was to say that in that
instant the world allied on new bases, that men now fought together not
because their lands lay neighboring, or were jointly menaced by some
central foe, but because they would follow their own ideal to wherever
it was in danger. An American general had brought his fighters three
thousand miles because a principle of world order and world right needed
the added strength of his arms. And never before had American soldiers
come in their uniforms to do battle on the continent of Europe.

The moment's silence ended as startlingly as it began. Bands and
cheerers set in again on one beat. The officers who had come to make a
formal welcome fell back and let the unprepared public uproar have way.

General Pershing and his officers walked through aisles strenuously
forced by the infantrymen, to where carriages waited to carry them
through the Boulogne streets.

It must have seemed to the little American contingent as if every
Frenchman in France had come up to the coast for the celebration.

From the carriages the crowds stretched solid in every direction. The
streets were blanketed under uncountable flags. Every window held its
capacity of laughing and cheering Frenchwomen.

Children ran along the streets, shrilling "Vive l'Amérique!" and
laughing hilariously when their flowers were caught by the grateful but
embarrassed American officers.

When the special train to Paris had started the officers mopped their
faces and settled back for a modest time. But they reckoned without
their French. Not a town along the way missed its chance to greet the
Americans. The stations were packed, the cheers were incessant, the
roses poured in deluges into the train-windows.

But at the Gare du Nord, in Paris, the official French greeting was too
magnificent to be pushed aside further by mere populace.

There were cordons of soldiers drawn up in the station, stiff at
attention, making aisles by which the French officials could get to the
Americans. There were officers in brilliant uniform, covered with medals
for heroic service. There were massed bands, led by the Garde
Republicaine. "Papa Joffre" was there, with his co-missioner, Viviani;
Painleve, then Minister of War, and presently to have a while as
Premier; General Foch, Marne hero, now generalissimo, and Ambassador
William G. Sharp.

These, with General Pershing, Major Robert Bacon, a member of Pershing's
staff and lately ambassador to France, and two or three other
staff-officers, found open motor-cars waiting to drive them to the Hotel
Crillon, on the Place de la Concorde, the temporary American
headquarters.

Dense crowds of soldiers patrolled the streets leading down to the Grand
Boulevards, through which the distinguished little procession was to
take its way, and other soldiers lined up at attention in the
boulevards.

Paris turned loose, with her heart in her mouth and her enthusiasm at
red heat, is not easily forgotten. On this June day her raptures were
immemorial. They were of a sort to call out the old-timers for standards
of comparison.

Every sentence now spoken in France begins either "Avant la guerre" or
"Depuis la guerre." Nobody can ignore the fact that with August, 1914,
the whole of life changed. To the old-timers who wanted to tell you what
Paris was like the afternoon Pershing arrived, there were only two
occasions possible, both "Depuis la guerre."

The first great day was that following the order for general
mobilization, when exaltation, defiance, threat, and frenzy packed the
national spirit to suffocation, and when the streets flowed with
unending streams of grim but undaunted people. Tragic days and relief
days followed. But the next great time, when tragedy did not outweigh
every other feeling, was that 14th of July, 1916, when the military
parades were begun again, for the first time since the war, and in the
line of march were detachments from the armies of all the Allies.

The third great French war festival was for Pershing. The crowds were
literally everywhere. The streets through which the motors passed were
tightly blocked except for the little road cleared by the soldiers. The
streets giving off these were jammed solid. American flags were in every
window, on every lamp-post, on every taxicab, and in every wildly
waving hand.

[Illustration: _Copyright by the Committee on Public Information._

General Pershing in Paris, July, 1917.]

Although the soldiers could force a way open before the motor-cars, no
human agency could keep the way free behind them. The Parisians wanted
not merely to see Pershing--they wanted to march with him. So they fell
in, tramping the boulevards close behind the cars, cheering and singing
to their marching step.

Only when General Pershing disappeared under the arched doorway of the
Hotel Crillon, and let it be known that he had other gear to tend, did
the city in procession break apart and go about its several private
celebrations.

But all that afternoon and all that night, wherever men and women
collected, or children were underfoot, it was "Vive l'Amérique" and
"Vive le Generale Pair-shang" that echoed when the glasses rose.

When General Pershing, after the tremendous experience of his European
landing, asked for the quiet and shelter of his own quarters at the
Crillon, his intention was that his retirement should be complete. He
said flatly that a man who had just witnessed such a tribute to his
country as Paris had made that afternoon was no better than he should be
if he did not feel the need of solitude.

But the inevitable aftermath of the great event the world over is the
talking with the newspapers. And sure enough, no sooner was General
Pershing safe in his retreat than the Paris reporters were knocking at
the door. The American correspondents who had travelled over from London
on the _Invicta_ had had emphatic instructions to stay away, story or no
story. But one distinguished Frenchman broke the rules, and to François
de Jessen, of _Le Temps_, General Pershing did finally give a statement.
How reluctantly one may see from the statement's contents.

"I came to Europe to organize the participation of our army in this
immense conflict of free nations against the enemies of liberty, and not
to deliver fine speeches at banquets, or have them published in the
newspapers," said General Pershing. "Besides, that is not my business,
and, you know, we Americans, soldiers and civilians, like not only to
appear, but to be, businesslike. However, since you offer me an
opportunity to speak to France, I am glad to make you a short and simple
confession.

"As a man and as a soldier I am profoundly happy over, indeed proud of,
the high mission with which I am charged. But all this is purely
personal, and might appear out of proportion with the solemnity of the
hour and the gravity of events now occurring. If I have thought it
proper to indulge in this confidence, it is because I wish to express my
admiration of the French soldier, and at the same time to express my
pride in being at the side of the French and allied armies.

"It is much more important, I think, to announce that we are the
precursors of an army that is firmly resolved to do its part on the
Continent for the cause the American nation has adopted as its own. We
come conscious of the historic duty to be performed when our flag shows
itself upon the battle-fields of the world. It is not my role to promise
or to prophesy. Let it suffice to tell you that we know what we are
doing, and what we want."

Two rememberable experiences waited the next day for General Pershing.
The first was his visit to des Invalides, the tomb of Napoleon; the
second, his appearance in the French Chamber of Deputies. If he had
known what it was to be the hero of all Paris at once, he was to learn
how special groups regarded him, and what the French highest-in-command
thought fitting for America's leader.

At all of General Pershing's appearances in Paris in these first days a
detachment of soldiers had to be constantly before him, widening a way
for him through the crowds that waited his coming. On the morning of his
visit to the tomb of Napoleon the broad Champs de Mars, in front of des
Invalides, was impassable except by the soldiers' flying wedge. Shouts
in French rang out steadily as he made his way toward des Invalides'
entrances, and suddenly a man cried, in accented English: "Behind him
there are ten million more."

But once inside des Invalides General Pershing was alone with General
Niox, who was in charge of the famous treasure building, and General
Joffre. Between Pershing and Joffre there had begun one of those intense
friendships that form too impetuously for ordinary explanation. It was
full-grown at the end of their first meeting, a matter of seconds. And
though at this time their friendly intercourse was halted sometimes by
the fact that neither spoke the other's language, they were continually
together.

So it was General Joffre who walked beside him when General Pershing
followed General Niox down to the entrance of the crypt, and stood
before the door. All the world may go to this door, if its behavior is
good, but only royal applicants may go beyond it.

General Pershing was to go inside. General Niox handed him the great
key, then turned away with Joffre, while Pershing, after a moment's
hesitation, fitted the key and crossed the threshold. When he came out
again he was taken to see the Napoleonic relics, which lay in rows in
their glass cases. Two of them, the great sword and the Grand Cross
cordon of the Legion of Honor, had never been touched since the time of
Louis Philippe. As Pershing and Joffre bent over them General Niox came
to a momentous decision. He opened the cases and handed the two to
General Pershing. France could do no more.

Pershing held them for a moment and nobody spoke. Then he handed back
the cordon, kissed the sword-hilt and presented it, and in profound
silence the three men left the treasure hall.

Between this visit and that to the Chamber of Deputies there were many
official calls, including one to President Poincaré at the Elysée
Palace, which ended in a formal luncheon to Pershing by President and
Madame Poincaré, with most of the important men of France as fellow
guests.

General Pershing was recognized as he entered the gallery of the Chamber
of Deputies, and all other business except that of doing him honor was
promptly put by. Full-throated cheering began and would not die down.
Finally Premier Ribot commenced to speak, and the deputies stopped to
listen.

"The people of France fully understand the deep significance of the
arrival of General Pershing in France," he said. "It is one of the
greatest events in history that the people of the United States should
come here to struggle, not in the spirit of ambition or conquest, but
for the noble ideals of justice and liberty. The arrival of General
Pershing is a new message from President Wilson which, if that is
possible, surpasses in nobility all those preceding it."

And Viviani said, a few minutes later: "President Wilson holds in his
hand all the historic grandeur of America, which he now puts forth in
this fraternal union extended to us by the Great Republic."

These two speeches opened a flood-gate. Long after the cheering deputies
had said their good-bys to General Pershing, the French writers, made
articulate by the example of Ribot and Viviani, were busily preparing
appreciations and commentaries of the Pershing arrival. The most
picturesque of these was Maurice de Waleffe's, in _Le Journal:_ "'There
are no longer any Pyrenees,' said Louis XIV, when he married a Spanish
princess. 'There is no longer an ocean,' General Pershing might say,
with greater justice, as he is about to mingle with ours the democratic
blood of his soldiers. The fusion of Europe and America is an enormous
fact to note."

A more powerful speech was that of Clemenceau, now Premier of France,
but then an earnest private citizen, writing for his paper. "Paris has
given its finest welcome to General Pershing," he wrote. "We are
justified. We are justified in hoping that the acclamation of our fellow
citizens, with whom are mingled crowds of soldiers home on leave, have
shown him clearly, right at the start, in what spirit we are waging the
bloodiest of wars; with what invincible determination, never to falter
in any fibre of our nerves or muscles. Unless I misjudge America,
General Pershing, fully conscious of the importance of his mission, has
received from the cordial and joyous enthusiasm of the Parisians that
kind of fraternal encouragement which is never superfluous, even when
one needs it not.

"Let him have no doubt that he, too, has brought encouragement to us,
the whole of France, that followed with its eyes the whole of his
passage along the boulevards; to all our hearts that salute his coming
with joy at the supreme grandeur of America's might enrolled under the
standard of right.

"This idea M. Viviani, just back from America, splendidly developed in
his eloquent speech to the Chamber of Deputies in the presence of
General Pershing.

"General Pershing himself, less dramatic, has given us, in three phrases
devoid of artificiality, an impression of exceptionally virile force. It
was no rhetoric but the pure simplicity of the soldier who is here to
act, and who fears to promise more than he can perform. No bad sign,
this, for those of us who have grown weary of pompous words, when we
must pay so dearly for each failure of performance.

"Not long ago the Germans laughed at the 'contemptible English Army,'
and we hear now that they regard the American Army as 'too ridiculous
for words.' Well, the British have taught even Hindenburg himself what
virile force can do toward filling gaps in organization. Now the arrival
of Pershing brings Hindenburg news that the Americans are setting to
work in their turn--those Americans whose performance in the War of
Secession showed them capable of such 'improvisation of war' as the
world had never seen--and I think the Kaiser must be beginning to wonder
whether he has not trusted rather blindly in his 'German tribal God.'
He has loosed the lion from its cage, and now he finds that the lion has
teeth and claws to rend him.

"The Kaiser had given us but a few weeks in which to realize that the
success of his submarine campaign would impose the silence of terror on
the human conscience throughout the world. Well, painful as he must find
it, Pershing's arrival, with its consequent military action, cannot fail
to prove to him that, after all, the moral forces he ignored must always
be taken into account in forecasting human probabilities. Those learned
Boches have yet to understand that in the course of his intellectual
evolution, man has achieved the setting of moral right above brute
force; that might is taking its stand beside right, to accomplish the
greatest revolution in the history of mankind. That is the lesson which
Pershing's coming has taught us, and that is why we rejoice."

But even while the commentators were at their task General Pershing had
left off celebrating and got to work. The First Division was on the
seas.

A few very important persons in France and America knew where they were
to land, and when, but nobody in the world knew just what was to be done
for and with them once they landed, for the plans did not even exist. It
was the business of the general and his staff to create them. And they
say that the amount of work done in those first days in France was
incredible even to them when they looked back on it.

As a first step American headquarters were installed in 31 Rue
Constantine, a broad, shaded street near the Hôtel des Invalides,
overlooking the Champs de Mars. The house had belonged once to a
prodigiously popular Paris actress, and it was correspondingly
magnificent.

But the magnificence, except that which was inalienably in space and
structure, was banished by the busy Americans. In the hallway they
stretched a plank railing, behind which American private soldiers asked
and answered questions. Under the once sumptuous stairway there were
stacks of army cots. The walls were bulletined and covered with
directions carefully done in two languages. The chief of the
Intelligence Section had the ex-dining-room, and the adjutant-general
had the ballroom on the second floor. Even so, it was not long before
this spaciousness was insufficient, and the headquarters brimmed over
into No. 27 as well.

It was in these two houses that the whole army organization was plotted
out, and General Pershing made good his prediction that the Americans
would not merely seem, but would be, businesslike.

After ten days or so of beaver-like absorption in their jobs the
American headquarters announced to the war correspondents that they must
take a certain train at a certain hour, under the guidance of Major
Frederick Palmer, press officer and censor, to a certain port in France.
There, at a certain moment, they would see what they would see.



CHAPTER III

THE FIRST DIVISION LANDS


They saw the gray troop-ships steaming majestically into the middle
distance from the gray of the open sea, with the little convoy fleet
alongside. It was a gray morning, and at first the ships were hardly
more than nebulous patches of a deeper tone than sea and sky. As they
neared the port, and took on outline, the watchers increased, and took
on internationalism.

The Americans, who had come to see this consequential landing, some in
uniform and some civilians, had arrived in the very early morning,
before the inhabitants of the little seaport town were up and about, let
alone aware of what an event was that day to put them into the history
books.

But it never takes a French civilian long to discover that something is
afoot--what with three years of big happenings to sharpen his wits and
keep him on the lookout.

At the front of the quay were Americans two deep, straining to make out
the incoming ships, on tiptoe to count their number, breathless to shout
a welcome to the first "Old Glory" to be let loose to the harbor winds.
Forming rapidly behind the Americans were French men, French women, and
French children, indifferent to affairs, kitchens, or schools,
chattering that "Mais surement, c' sont les Américains--regardez,
regardez!..."

Ignominiously in the rear, but watching too, were the German prisoners
who worked, in theory at least, at transferring rails from inconvenient
places to convenient ones for the loading of coaster steamers. They said
little enough, having learned that a respectful hearing was not to be
their lot for a while. But they moved fewer rails than ever, and nobody
bothered to speed them up.

The great ships came in slowly. Before long, the watchers could see
lines of dull yellow banding the gray hulks, and then the yellow lines
took on form and separateness, and were visible one soldier at a time.

Last, one ship steamed apart from the others and made direct for the
quay, and the solemn business of landing American troops on French soil
was about to begin.

There was to be a certain ceremony for the landing, but, like all the
ceremonies conceded to these great occasions by the American Army, it
was to be of extreme simplicity. When they were near enough to the quay
to be heard, the transport band played "The Star-Spangled Banner," while
all the soldiers stood at salute, and then they played the
"Marseillaise," while everybody on ship and shore stood at salute. With
that, they called it a morning, as far as celebration was concerned, and
to the accompaniment of a great deal of talk and a volley of
light-hearted questions, they began to disembark.

The first question, called from some distance away, was: "What place is
this?" The next was, "Do they let the enlisted men drink in the saloons
over here?" and there was a miscellany about apple pie and doughnuts,
cigarettes, etc. And very briefly after the first soldiers were ashore
nothing could be heard but "Don't they speak any English at all?"

The outstanding impression of that morning may be what it will to the
French civilians, to the American newspaper correspondents, and to the
officers both ashore and on board. To the privates of the First Division
it will always be the incomprehensible nonsense that goes by the name of
the French language, spoken with perfect assurance by people old enough
to know better, who refuse to make one syllable of intelligible sound in
answer to even the simplest requests.

The privates were prepared to hear the French speak their own language
at mention of Alsace-Lorraine and war aims, or to propound their private
philosophies that way. They granted the right of the French to talk how
they pleased of their emotional pleasure at seeing the troops, or of any
other subject above the timber-line.

What staggered them was the insane top-loftiness of using French to ask
for ham and eggs, and beer, or the way to camp. For nothing, not volumes
of warning before they left home, nor interminable hours of
French-grammar instruction on board the troop-ships, had really got it
deep inside the American private's head that French was not an
accomplishment to be used as evidence of cosmopolitan culture, but a
mere prosy necessity, without which daily existence was a nightmare and
a frustration.

The French, on their side, were helpless enough, but not so bewildered.
They had lived too long, in peace as well as war, across a narrow
channel from that stanch English-speaking race who brought both their
tea and their language with them to France and everywhere else, to be
dumfounded that strangers should balk at their foreign tongue.

The inevitable result was that here, in their first contact with the
French, as later, throughout the fighting areas, the American soldiers
learned to understand French-English long before they could speak a
decent word of French.

Fortunately for the First Division, it had had some able bilingual
forerunners at the seaport town where they landed. The camps had been
built by the French, a few miles back from the town, but a few of the
housekeeping necessities had been installed by General Pershing's
staff-officers, and signs in good, plain English showed the proper
roads. And as the single files of soldiers began to descend the
gang-plank of the first transport, and to form for marching to camp,
their own officers were having some compact instruction from the
staff-officers on how to get to camp and what to do when they got there.

There was no waste motion about getting the troops under way. The first
companies were tramp-tramping up the streets before the last companies
were overside, and the first transport was free to go back and give
place to the next one before the mayor had got his red sash and gilt
chains in place and arrived to do them suitable honor.

So, while the shore watchers fell back into safe observation-posts, the
soldiers clattered down through the quay-sheds to the little street,
formed and swung away, and one ship after another disgorged its
passengers, and presently the sheds were overrun with the blue-clad
sailors from the convoys.

All that day, the soldiers marched through the town. Their camps lay at
the end of a long white shore road, and jobs were not wanting when they
got there. Their pace was easy, because of these things, and they
probably would not have put out any French eye with their flawless
marching, even under less indulgent circumstances. For this First
Division was recruited in a hurry, and most of their real training lay
ahead of them.

Where they were impressive was in their composite build. There were
little fellows among them, but they straggled at the back. The major
part of the soldiers were tall, thin, rangy-looking, with a march that
was more lope than anything else and a look of heaving their packs along
without much effort. They fell about midway between the thin, breedy
look of the first English troops in France and the stocky, thick-necked
sort that came later.

The marines were the pick of the lot, for size and behavior too. The
sense of being something special was with the marines from the first.
They marched that way. And, set apart by their olive drab as well as by
their size and comportment, they gave that First Division's first march
in France a quality of real distinction. And when the army got to its
first French camps, the welcome sight its eyes first fell upon was that
of already arrived marines carrying water down the hill.

The camps were long wooden buildings, rather above the average, as
became the status of the visitors, built almost at the top of a hill,
looking down over green fields and round trees to the three or four
villages within range of vision, and beyond them to the sea.

Some supplies were there already, but the soldiers had had to bring most
of their first supper, and the camp-cooks had their own troubles getting
things just so.

Major-General Sibert, field commander of the First Division, had
quarters at camp, so that excuses were not in order. Even for that first
supper, the marines and all others they could commandeer to help them
were rushing about preparing things to the very top of their bent.
Nobody had town-leave for the first day or two, till things were in
apple-pie order, and the camp was in line to shelter and feed its
soldiers for as long as it should be necessary to stay there.

If camp life was busy these days, the town life was no less so. The
chief hotel, wherein much red plush met the eye from the very entrance,
was swarming with officers of both nations and all degrees of rank.
General Pershing was there, with his aides and most of his staff.
Admirals were there, changing uniforms from blue to white and back again
as the erratic French weather dictated.

There were half a dozen high officers from the French Army, making both
formal and informal welcomes, and there were more busy majors and
captains and more interpreters than you could count in half a day's
time.

The little Frenchwoman who sat behind the desk was amiable to the best
of her very considerable ability, but the questions she had to answer,
whether she understood them or not, would have addled an older head than
hers. She could run her hotel with the best of them, but when perfectly
sane-looking young officers asked her where to buy five thousand cups
and saucers, and paper napkins by the ton, she said in so many words
that an American invasion was worse than bedlam.

The hotel's second floor was the favored place for conferences. There a
fair welter of red plush was drawn up around a big table in the
hallway, and livid red wall-paper added its warmth to a scene which
against a plank wall would not have lacked color.

At this table General Pershing could have been found much of the time.
The whole practical liaison of French and American Armies was contrived
here, though the first rule for this consolidation laid down by a
grizzled French general with but one arm left, was that "there was no
longer anything that was French, or anything that was American, but
merely all we had that was 'ours,'" so that the task was one of detail
only.

Though the daytimes were packed with work, most of the officers called
it a day at sunset. Then the little hotel took on its most engaging
color. The little French piano tinkled out in the warm air with an
accompaniment of many voices. Once a very blue young second lieutenant
chose to express his mood by repetitions without number of the
melancholy "Warum?"--probably the first German music that had been heard
from that piano for many a moon. Possibly those of the French who knew
what the tune was recognized also that America had turned a point in
more ways than one in coming to France, not least among them being
making good American soldiers out of erstwhile good Germans. Nobody
seemed much astonished or put out when within the day a goodly number of
American soldiers were speaking to German prisoners in their own
language, though talking to the German prisoners, aside from the fact
that it was not encouraged by the French, turned out to be indifferent
fun, since the American soldiers had had their fill of German propaganda
before they left home, and none of the prisoners was overmodest as to
what Germany was or would do.

The cafés out-of-doors were overflowing with Americans, too. It was
plenty of fun to hear the sailors scolding the French waitresses for
calling lemons "limons," and trying to overhaul the French pronunciation
of "bière" to something approaching a compromise.

An officer came along and broke up a crap-game. The soldiers forgave
him, but the civilians did not. It was their first go at the game, and
they wanted a lot of teaching.

The lone bookstore of the town made the only known effort to get the
Americans what they asked for, instead of trying to prevail on them to
adopt something French. They sent, perhaps to Paris, to get English
books, and they piled their windows high with Macaulay's "History of
England" and Bacon's "Essays."

The paper-buying habit is ingrown in the American male. He has three
newspapers under his arm before any afternoon is what it should be. And
so the soldiers bought the French papers, two and three at a time, and
carried them around.

Any time of day or night, a look out into the town's main street
descried a company or two of soldiers, on their way from camp for
town-leave, or on their way back. They marched continually. The
motor-cycle with the side-seat, which was later to be the distinguishing
mark of the American Army in Paris, made its appearance in the seaport
within a day or two of the first transport's landing, and eased the
burdens of the French motor-lorries with which the American supplies had
been taken to camp, owing to a delay of the First Division's own
lorries, on a slow ship.

And most successful sensation of all, the army mule. The French knew him
slightly, because their own army used him on occasion. But no Frenchman
could speak to a mule in his own language as these big mule-tenders did.

It was exalting to watch the army on the march, to see the marines and
the profusion of slim sailors. But the real crowd always gathered around
the big negro stevedores in long navy-blue coats, scarlet-lined, with
brass buttons all the way up the front, over and down the back--likely a
thrifty hand-me-down from pre-khaki days--who marched with perfect
knowledge of their magnificence.

The stevedores, for their part, were as amazed as the French, though on
a different score. They accepted with due resignation the fact that the
French spoke French. It was when they first saw a Senegalese in French
uniform, triple-black with tropic suns, but to them a mere one of
themselves, and when they hailed him gladly in their English tongue, to
ask which road to take, that his indecipherable French answer broke
them, heart and spirit alike.

"Dat one blame stuck-up nigger," said the spokesman, as they trudged
their way onward, none the wiser if the Senegalese, in his turn, had
been rebuking them in French for showing off their English.

So, in its several aspects, the First Division made its impact upon
France, jostled itself a little and the French more, and finally settled
down to its short wait at the coast before going inland, "within sound
of the guns," to get its training.

And because the camps were to be used many times again by other
divisions to come on the "bridge of ships," the first had to put in some
extra licks to make their camp conveniences permanent.

They played a few baseball-games, and they were encouraged to do a lot
of swimming, in the off afternoon hours. After a bit town-leave was
heavily curtailed, but there was a dispensation now and then for a
"movie." In the main they kept their noses to the grindstone.

After a little while the men who were to march in Paris on the Fourth
of July were selected, and, preceded by a few sailors with fewer duties
and longer indulgences, they entrained on the late afternoon of July 2.
There was no measuring the disappointment of the ones who were left
behind, for the prediction that there would be doings in Paris on the
first French Fourth of July was to be fulfilled to the letter.

But the housekeepers of the army could not be spared for celebrations.
As soon as the marines could be despatched from the seaport they were
sent direct across France to the points behind the lines where their
training-camps were in waiting, and there, within a few weeks, the First
Division reassembled and fell to work.

Meanwhile, of the doings in Paris----



CHAPTER IV

THE FOURTH OF JULY


The first they knew of it in Paris--barring vague promises of "something
to remember" on the American fête that had appeared in modest items in
the newspapers--was when a motor-bus, jammed to the guards with American
soldiers, suddenly rolled into the Avenue de l'Opéra from the Tuileries
Gardens, and paraded up that august thoroughfare to the tune of
incredible yelling from everybody on board. It was the afternoon of July
3.

A few picked Americans had known about it. A sufficient number of
American and French officers and the newspaper correspondents had been
told to appear at Austerlitz Station in the early morning of the 3d, and
there they had seen the soldiers not merely arrive but tackle their
first continental breakfast.

Neither was a sensation to be sneezed at. The soldiers were of the very
finest, and in spite of their overnight journey they were all looking
fit. They were anxious to fall right out of the train into the middle of
Paris. To most of them it was a city of gallant and delightful scandal,
filled even in war-time with that twinkle of gayety plus wickedness that
is so intriguing when told about in Oscaloosa, behind the hand or the
door. They said outright that they expected to see the post-cards all
come to life when they set eyes first on Paris streets.

But even if Paris had had these fascinations in store, they were not for
the soldiers that morning. Instead military precision, discipline, an
orderly march to near-by barracks, and--a French breakfast: coffee and
war-bread. Not even the French had a kind word for the war-bread, and no
American ever spoke well of the coffee. But there it was--chronologically
in order, and haply the worst of a Paris visit all over at once.

And most of the soldiers stayed right in barracks till it was time for
the great processional the next day. It was a picked bunch that had the
motor ride and informed Paris that they had come for a party. And if
they didn't see the ladies with the unbehaving eyes, they did see the
Louvre and the Tuileries, the Opéra, the boulevards, and the Madeleine.
And Paris saw the soldiers.

There was no end of cheering and handclapping. The American flags that
had been flying for Pershing were brought out again, and venders
appeared on the streets with all manner of emblems to sell. It was one
of those cheerful afternoons when good feeling expresses itself gently,
reserving its hurrahs for the coming event.

The soldiers were kept on the cars, but now and then a good Parisian
threw them a package of cigarettes or a flower. All told, they touched
off the fuse timed to explode on the morrow, and, having done that, went
back to barracks.

The first "Fourth" in Paris was a thoroughly whole-souled celebration.
The French began it, civilians and soldiers, by taking a band around to
serenade General Pershing the first thing in the morning. His house was
on the left bank of the Seine, not far from American headquarters in the
Rue Constantine, an historic old place with little stone balconies
outside the upper windows.

On one of these General Pershing appeared, with the first notes of the
band. He was cheered and cheered again. A little boy who had somehow
climbed to the top of a gas street-lamp squealed boastfully to Pershing:
"See, I am an American, too, for I have a sky-scraper!" (J'ai un
gratte-ciel!) And with a wave of his hand General Pershing acknowledged
his compatriot.

It was in this crowd around Pershing's house that a riot started,
because a man who was being unpleasantly jostled said: "Oh, do leave me
in peace." Those nearest him good-naturedly tried to give him
elbow-room, but those a little distance away caught merely the "peace"
of his ejaculation and, with sudden loud cries of "kill the pacifist,"
made for the unfortunate, and pommelled him roundly before the matter
could be explained.

After the serenade and General Pershing's little speech of thanks the
band, with most of the crowd following, marched over to des Invalides,
the appointed place for the formal ceremony.

Around the ancient hotel, overflowing into the broad boulevards that
radiate from it, and packing to suffocation the Champs de Mars in front
of it, there were just as many Frenchmen as could stand shoulder to
shoulder and chin to back. Inside, where there were speeches and
exchanges of national emblems, the crowd was equally dense, in spite of
the fact that only the very important or the very cunning had cards of
admission.

The real Fourth celebration was in the streets. The waiting crowds
yelled thunderously when the first band appeared, heralding the parade.
Then came the Territorials, the escort troops, in their familiar
horizon-blue. Then more bands, then officers, mounted and in motor-cars,
and, finally, the Americans, manifestly having the proudest moment of
their lives.

They were to march from des Invalides to Picpus Cemetery, the little
private cemetery outside of Paris, where the Marquis de Lafayette is
buried.

They crossed Solferino bridge, and made their way through a terrific
crowd in the broad Place de la Concorde. The Paris newspapers, boasting
of their conservatism, said there were easily one million Parisians that
day within sight of des Invalides when the American soldiers left the
building and started on their march.

To hear the soldiers tell it, there were easily one million Parisians,
all under the age of ten, immediately under their feet before they had
marched a mile.

From a balcony of the Hotel Crillon, on the north side of the Place de
la Concorde, the marching Americans were wholly lost to view from the
waist down. Nobody could ever complain of the French birth-rate after
seeing that parade. Nobody ever saw that many children before in any one
assemblage in France. It was prodigious.

And the French youngsters had their own notions of how they were to take
part in that French Fourth of July. The main notion was to walk between
the soldiers' legs. They were massed thick beside the soldiers, thick
between them, impeding their knee action, terrorizing their steps. At a
little distance, they looked like batter in a waffle-pan. But they did
what they could to make the American soldiers feel among friends that
day, and nobody could say they failed.

The parade turned along the picturesque old Rue de Rivoli on leaving the
Place de la Concorde, and filed along the river, almost the length of
the city. They had not gone far before the Frenchwomen had thrown them
enough roses to decorate bayonets and hats and a few lapels. They made a
brave sight, brave to nobility. And though they were harassed by the
eager children, abashed by the women, and touched to genuine emotion by
the whole city, they wouldn't have grudged five years of their lives for
the privilege of being there.

At Picpus, the scene made up in intensiveness what it lacked in breadth,
for the cemetery is far too small to permit of a crowd of size. A home
for aged gentlewomen overlooks one wall ... its windows were filled, and
their occupants proved that Frenchwomen are never too old or too gentle
to throw roses. A military hospital overlooks another side, and
balconies and windows were crowded with "blessés." The few officers and
civilians who had access to the cemetery-grounds made their
commemoration brief and simple. It was there that Colonel Stanton made
the little speech which buzzed around the Allied world within the day:
"Lafayette, nous voilà!"--"Lafayette, we're here!" Its felicity of
phrase moved the French scribes to columns of congratulation. Its
compactness won the Americans. Everybody said it was the best war speech
made in France, and it was.

After Picpus, the officers came back to the city for work, and the
soldiers went to barracks. The sailors were allowed to saunter about the
city, in vain search for the post-card ladies and the flying champagne
corks. The soldiers were on a sterner régime.

Early on the morning of the 5th, they were eastward bound, to join the
rest of the First Division for training, and Paris saw the last of the
American soldiers.

A few had leave, within the next few months, from engineering corps and
base hospitals. But the infantrymen and the marines were over learning
lessons in the war of trench and bayonet, and by Christmas even the
scattering leaves from behind the lines were discontinued, and
Americans on holiday bent were sent to Aix-les-Bains. Even officers had
little or no Paris leave, and those who had been quartered in Paris, in
the Rue Constantine and the Rue Sainte-Anne, were collected at the new
American headquarters, southeast of Paris. The American uniform all but
vanished off the Paris streets. The French national holiday, ten days
after the American, had no American contingent.

So Paris and the American Army had a quick acquaintance, a brilliant one
and a brief one. It was mainly between the beginning and the end of that
Fourth of July. It will quite probably not be renewed till the end of
the war. Lucky the onlooker who sees the reunion. For then it may be
wagered that there will be gayety enough to answer the needs of even the
most post-card-haunted soldier.

But to get on to the training-camps----



CHAPTER V

WHAT THEY LIVED IN


The American training-camp area spread over many miles and through many
villages. It had boundaries only in theory, because all its sides were
ready to swing farther north, east, south, and west at a day's notice,
whenever the Expeditionary Force should become army enough to require
it.

But its focus was in the Vosges, in the six or seven villages set apart
from the beginning for the Americans, and as such, overhauled by those
first marines and quartermaster's assistants who left the coast in early
July and moved campward.

This overhauling brought the end of the Franco-American honeymoon.
Later, amity was to be re-established, but when the first marine ordered
the first manure-pile out of the first front yard, a breach began which
it took long months to heal.

There were few barracks in the Vosges. The soldiers were to be billeted
with the peasants. And the marines said the peasants had to clean up and
air, and the peasants said the marines were insane.

Those first days at training-camp, before the body of the troops
arrived, were circus enough for anybody.

Six villages were to be got ready, the officers to have the pick of
places, and the privates to have next best. And the choice of
assignments for officers was still so far from ideal as to make the
house-cleaning a thorough job all around.

The marines had a village to themselves, the farthest from the
inspection-grounds. The correspondents had a village to themselves, too,
though it wasn't because there was any excess of regard for the
importance of the correspondents among the men who laid out the grounds.
They were put where they could do the least harm, and where their
confusing appearance, in Sam Brown belts and other officer-like
insignia, would not exact too many wasted salutes.

General Headquarters was still in Paris at this time, but General
Sibert had Field Headquarters at camp, and though his assignment was
relatively stylish, it could not have been said to offend him with its
luxury.

He lived and worked in a little frame building in the main street of the
central village, which had probably once been a hotel.

It was to be recognized by the four soldiers always at attention outside
it, whenever motors or pedestrians passed that way. Two of the soldiers
were American and two were French.

Although all the American training-camp area became America as to
jurisdiction, as soon as the troops moved there, the French soldiers
were always present around headquarters, partly to help and partly to
register politeness.

Inside Field Headquarters, the little bare wooden rooms were stripped of
their few battered vases and old chromos, and plain wooden tables and
chairs were set about. The marines opened the windows, and scrubbed up
the floors, and hung out the sign of "Business as usual," and General
Sibert moved in.

The rest was not so easy. The various kitchens came in first for
attention. For many days French and American motor-lorries had been
trundling across France, storing the warehouses with heaping piles of
food-supplies. The procession practically never stopped. Trains brought
what could be put aboard them, but it was to motors that most of the
real work fell. So the thin, long line of loaded cars stretched
endlessly from coast to camp, and finally everything was attended to but
where to put the food and where to cook it.

The houses with the good back sheds were picked for kitchens, and the
big army soup-kettles were bricked into place, and what passed for ovens
were provided for the bakers.

For bathing facilities, there were neat paths marked to the river. That
is, the French called it a river. Every American who rides through
France for the first time has the same experience: he looks out of his
train-window and remarks to his companion, who knows France well: "Isn't
that a pretty little creek? Are there many springs about here?" And the
companion replies scornfully: "That isn't a creek--that's the Marne
River," or "That's the Aisne," or "That's the Meuse." The American
always wonders what the French would call the Hudson.

It was one of these storied streams that ran through the American
training-camp, in which the Americans did their bathing. Whenever a
soldier wanted to get his head wet he waded across.

Later, when the camps were filled, these river-banks were to offer a
remarkable sight to the French peasants, who thought all Americans were
bathing-mad anyway. Hundreds of soldiers, in the assorted postures of
men scrubbing backs and knees and elbows, disported with soap and
wash-cloth along the banks. Hundreds of others, swimming their suds off,
flashed here an arm and there a leg in the stream itself. It did not
take much distance to make them look like figures on a frieze, a new
Olympic group. Modesty knew them not, but there were not supposed to be
women about, and the peasants had a nice Japanese point of view in the
matter. At any rate, there was the training-camp bathtub, and they used
it at least once a day, to the unending stupefaction of the French.

Where they slept was another matter, suggesting neither Corot nor
Phidias.

The privates had houses first, then barns. The barns were freed of the
live stock, which was turned into meadows to graze, and the floors were
dug down to clean earth, and vast quantities of formaldehyde were
sprayed around. Then the cots were carried up to the second floors of
the barns and put along in tidy rows. At the foot of each soldier's bed
was whatever manner of small wooden box he could corral from the
quartermaster, and there he kept all he owned. His pack unfolded its
contents into the box, and his comfort-kit perched on the top. And there
he kept the little mess of treasures he bought from the gypsy wagons
that rode all day around the outskirts of the camp.

Windows were knocked out, just under the eaves, for the fresh air that
seemed, so inexplicably to the French, so essential to the Americans.

Even with the First Division, acknowledged to be about the smallest
expeditionary force known to the Great War, the soldiers averaged a
little over two thousand to the village, and since not one of the
villages had more than four or five hundred population in peace-times,
the troubles of the man who arranged the billets were far from light.

Fortunately, the First Division did not ask for luxuries. Even the
officers spent more time in simplifying their quarters than in trimming
them up. The colonel of one regiment--one of those who became
major-generals soon after the arrival in France--had his quarters in an
aristocratic old house, set back in a long yard, where plum-trees
dropped their red fruit in the vivid green grass and roses overgrew
their confines--it was the sort of house before which the pre-war motor
tourists used to stop and breathe long "ohs" of satisfaction.

The entrance was by a low, arched doorway. The hall was built of
beautifully grained woods, old and mellow of tone. The stairway was
broad and easy to climb. The colonel had the second floor front, just
level with the tree-tops.

In the room there were rich woods and tapestried walls, and at the back
was a four-poster mahogany bed with heavy satin hangings, brocaded with
fleur-de-lis. The Pompadour would have been entirely happy there. But
the American colonel had done things to it--things that would have
popped the eyes out of the Pompadour's head. He pinned up the
four-poster hangings with a safety-pin, that being the only way he could
convey to his amiable little French servant-girl that he didn't want
that bed turned down for him of nights. And he had taken all the satin
hangings down from the windows. Under these windows he had drawn up a
little board table and an army cot. Beside the table was his little army
trunk. The space he used did not measure more than ten feet in any
direction, and his luxuries waited unmolested for some more sybaritic
soul than he.

A major in that same village who had had a cavalry command before the
cavalry, as he put it, became "mere messengers," picked his quarters out
himself, on the strength of all he had heard about "Sunny France." His
house was nothing much, but behind it was a garden--a long garden,
filled with vegetables, decorated with roses, shaded by fruit-trees. At
the far end of the garden was a summer-house, in a circle of trees. Here
the major took his first guests and showed how he intended to do his
work in the open air, while the famous French sunshine flooded his
garden and warmed his little refuge.

The one thing it will never be safe to say to any veteran of the First
Division is "Sunny France." The summer of 1917, after a blazing start in
June, settled down to drizzle and mist, cold and fog, rain that soaked
to the marrow.

The major with the garden sloshed around the whole summer, visiting men
who had settled indoors and had fireplaces. By the time the warmth had
come back to his summer-house it was time for him to go up to the
battle-line, and the man who writes a history of the billets in France
will get a lot of help from him.

Some of the makeshifts of this first invasion were excusable and
inevitable. Some were not. After the first two or three weeks of
settling in, General Pershing made a tour of inspection, and some of the
things he said about what he saw didn't make good listening. But after
that visit all possible defects were overcome, and the men slept well,
ate well, were as well clothed as possible, and were admirably
sanitated.

The drinking-water was a matter for the greatest strictness. The French
never drink water on any provocation, so that water provisions began
from the ground up.

It was drawn into great skins and hung on tripods in the shaded parts of
the billets, and it was then treated with a germicide, tasteless
fortunately, carried in little glass capsules. This was a legacy from
experiences in Panama.

Each man had his own tin cup, and when he got thirsty he went down and
turned the faucet in the hanging skin tank. If he drank any other water
he repented in the guard-house.

So, though the billets were rude and sometimes uncomfortable, the
soldiers did stay in them and out of the hospitals.

And there were compensations.

Half of these were in play-times, and half in work-times. The training,
slow at first, speeded up afterward and, with the help of the "Blue
Devils" who trained with the Americans, took on all the exhilaration of
war with none of its dangers. But how they trained doesn't belong in a
chapter on billets. How they played is more suitable.

Three-fourths of their playing they did with the French children. The
insurmountable French language, which kept doughboys and poilus at arm's
length in spite of their best intentions, broke down with the
youngsters.

It was one of the finest sights around the camp to see the big soldiers
collecting around the mess-tent after supper, in the daylight-saving
long twilight, to hear the band and play in pantomime with the hundreds
of children who tagged constantly after them.

The band concerts were a regular evening affair, though musically they
didn't come to much. Those were the days before anybody had thought to
supply the army bands with new music, so "She's My Daisy" and "The
Washington Post" made a daily appearance.

But the concerts did not want for attendance. The soldiers stood around
by the hundreds, and listened and looked off over the hills to where the
guns were rumbling, whenever the children were not exacting too much
attention.

This child-soldier combination had just two words. The child said
"Hello," which was all his English, and the party lasted till the
soldier, billet-bound, said "Fee-neesh," which was all his French. But
nobody could deny that both of them had a good time.

Letter-writing was another favorite sport with the First Division, to
the great dole of the censors. Of course the men were homesick. That was
one reason. The other was that they had left home as heroes, and they
didn't intend to let the glory lapse merely because they had come across
to France and been slapped into school. The censors were astounded by
what they read ... gory battles of the day before, terrific air-raids,
bombardments of camp, etc. Some of the men told how they had slaughtered
Germans with their bare hands. Most of the letters were adjudged
harmless, and of little aid or comfort to the enemy, so they were passed
through. But some of the families of the First Division must have
thought that the War Department was holding out an awful lot on the
American public.

Mid-July saw the camp in fair working order. The First Division had word
that it was presently to be joined by the New England Division and
the Rainbow Division, both National Guardsmen, and representative of
every State.

[Illustration: _Copyright by the Committee on Public Information._

Buglers of the Alpine Chasseurs, assisted by their military band,
entertaining American soldiers of the First Division.]

American participation began to take shape as a real factor, a stern and
sombre business, and all the lighter, easier sides of the expedition
began to fall back, and work and grimness came on together.

The French Alpine Chasseurs--whom the Americans promptly called
"chasers"--had a party with the Americans on July 14, when the whole day
was given over to a picnic, with boxing, wrestling, track sports, and a
lot of food. That was the last party in the training-camp till
Christmas.

The work that began then had no let-up till the first three battalions
went into the trenches late in October. The steadily increasing number
of men widened the area of the training-camp, but they made no
difference in the contents of the working-day, nor in the system by
which it proceeded.

Within the three weeks after the First Division had landed, the work of
army-building began.



CHAPTER VI

GETTING THEIR STRIDE


That part of France which became America in July, 1917, was of about the
shape of a long-handled tennis-racket. The broad oval was lying just
behind the fighting-lines. The handle reached back to the sea. Then, to
the ruin of the simile, the artillery-schools, the aviation-fields, and
the base hospitals made excrescences on the handle, so that an apter
symbol would be a large and unshapely string of beads.

But France lends itself to pretty exact plotting out. There are no lakes
or mountains to dodge, nor particularly big cities to edge over to. In
the main, the organizing staffs of the two nations could draw lines from
the coast to the battle-fields, and say: "Between these two shall
America have her habitation and her name."

The infantry trained in the Vosges. The artillery-ranges were next
behind, and then the aviation-grounds. The hospitals were placed
everywhere along the lines, from field-bases to those far in the rear.
And because neither French train service nor Franco-American motor
service could bear the giant burden of man-and-supply transportation,
the first job to which the engineer and labor units were assigned was
laying road-beds across France for a four-track railroad within the
American lines.

In those days America did not look forward to the emergency which was to
brigade her troops with French or British, under Allied Generalissimo
Foch. Her plans were to put in a force which should be, as the English
say of their flats, "self-contained." If this arrangement had a fault,
it was that it was too leisurely. It was certainly not lacking on the
side of magnificence, either in concept or carrying-out.

The scheme of bringing not only army but base of supplies, both
proportionate to a nation of a hundred million people, was necessarily
begun from the ground up. The American Army built railroads and
warehouses as a matter of course. It laid out training-camps for the
various arms of the service on an unheard-of scale. As it happens, the
original American plan was changed by the force of circumstances. Much
of the American man-power eventually was brigaded with the British and
French and went through the British and French soldier-making mills. But
the territory marked America still remains America and the excellent
showing made by the War Department in shipping men during the spring and
early summer of 1918 furnished a supply of soldiers sufficient to make
allotments to the Allies directly and at the same time preserve a
considerable force as a distinctly American Army. It is possible that
the fastest method of preparation possible might have been to brigade
with the Allies from the beginning. But it would have been difficult to
induce America to accept such a plan if it had not been for the
emergency created by the great German drive of the spring of 1918.

American engineers were both building railroads and running them from
July on. The hospital units were installed even earlier. The first work
of an army comes behind the lines and a large proportion of the early
arrivals of the A. E. F. were non-fighting units. At that there was no
satisfying the early demands for labor. As late as mid-August General
Pershing was still doing the military equivalent of tearing his hair for
more labor units and stevedores. A small number of negroes employed as
civilian stevedores came with the First Division, but they could not
begin to fill the needs. Later all the stevedores sent were regularly
enlisted members of the army. While the great undertaking was still on
paper and the tips of tongues, the infantry was beginning its hard
lessons in the Vosges. The First Division was made up of something less
than 50 per cent of experienced soldiers, although it was a regular army
division. The leaven of learning was too scant. The rookies were all
potentiality. The training was done with French soldiers and for the
first little while under French officers. A division of Chasseurs
Alpines was withdrawn from the line to act as instructors for the
Americans, and for two months the armies worked side by side. "You will
have the honor," so the French order read, "of spending your permission
in training the American troops." This might not seem like the
pleasantest of all possible vacations for men from the line, but the
chasseurs seemed to take to it readily enough. These Chasseurs
Alpines--the Blue Devils--were the finest troops the French had. And if
they were to give their American guests some sound instruction later on,
they were to give them the surprise of their lives first.

The French officer is the most dazzling sight alive, but the French
soldier is not. Five feet of height is regarded as an abundance. He got
his name of "poilu" not so much from his beard as from his perpetual
little black mustache.

The doughboys called him "Froggy" with ever so definite a sense of
condescension.

"Yes, they look like nothing--but you try following them for half a
day," said an American officer of the "poilus."

They have a short, choppy stride, far different to the gangling gait of
the American soldier. The observer who looks them over and decides they
would be piffling on the march, forgets to see that they have the width
of an opera-singer under the arms, and that they no more get winded on
their terrific sprints than Caruso does on his high C's.

And after they had done some stunts with lifting guns by the bayonet
tip, and had heaved bombs by the afternoon, the doughboys called in
their old opinions and got some new ones.

All sorts of things were helping along the international liking and
respect. The prowess of the French soldiers was one of the most
important. But the soldiers' interpretation of Pershing's first general
order to the troops was another. This order ran:

"For the first time in history an American Army finds itself in European
territory. The good name of the United States of America and the
maintenance of cordial relations require the perfect deportment of each
member of this command. It is of the gravest importance that the
soldiers of the American Army shall at all times treat the French
people, and especially the women, with the greatest courtesy and
consideration. The valiant deeds of the French Army and the Allies, by
which together they have successfully maintained the common cause for
three years, and the sacrifices of the civil population of France in
support of their armies command our profound respect. This can best be
expressed on the part of our forces by uniform courtesies to all the
French people, and by the faithful observance of their laws and customs.
The intense cultivation of the soil in France, under conditions caused
by the war, makes it necessary that extreme care should be taken to do
no damage to private property. The entire French manhood capable of
bearing arms is in the field fighting the enemy, and it should,
therefore, be a point of honor to each member of the American Army to
avoid doing the least damage to any property in France."

Veteran soldiers take a general order as a general order, following it
literally. Recruits on a mission such as the First Division's took that
first general order as a sort of intimation, on which they were to build
their own conceptions of gallantry and good-will. Not only did they
avoid doing damage to French property, they minded the babies, drew the
well-water, carried faggots, peeled potatoes--did anything and
everything they found a Frenchwoman doing, if they had some off time.

They fed the children from their own mess, kept them behind the lines at
grenade practice, mended their toys and made them new ones.

These things cemented the international friendliness that the statesmen
of the two countries had made so much talk of. And by the time the war
training was to begin, doughboys and Blue Devils tramped over the long
white roads together with nothing more unfriendly left between them than
rivalry.

The first thing they were set to do was trench-digging. The Vosges boast
splendid meadows. The Americans were told to dig themselves in. The
method of training with the French was to mark a line where the trench
should be, put the French at one end and the Americans at the other.
Then they were to dig toward each other as if the devil was after them,
and compare progress when they met.

Trench-digging is every army's prize abomination. A good hate for the
trenches was the first step of the Americans toward becoming
professional. It was said of the Canadians early in the war that though
they would die in the last ditch they wouldn't dig it.

No army but the German ever attempted to make its trenches neat and
cosey homes, but even the hasty gully required by the French seemed an
obnoxious burden to the doughboy. The first marines who dug a trench
with the Blue Devils found that their picks struck a stone at every
other blow, and that by the time they had dug deep enough to conceal
their length they were almost too exhausted to climb out again.

The ten days given over to trench-digging was not so much because the
technic was intricate or the method difficult to learn. They were to
break the spirit of the soldiers and hammer down their conviction that
they would rather be shot in the open than dig a trench to hide in. They
were also to keep the aching backs and weary shoulders from getting
overstiff. Toward the end of July the first batch of infantrymen were
called off their trenches and were started at bomb practice. At first
they used dummy bombs. The little line of Blue Devils who were to start
the party picked up their bombs, swung their arms slowly overhead, held
them straight from wrist to shoulder, and let their bombs sail easily
up on a long, gentle arc, which presently landed them in the practice
trenches.

"One-two-three-four," they counted, and away went the bombs. The
doughboys laughed. It seemed to them a throw fit only for a woman or a
substitute third baseman in the Texas League. When their turn came, the
doughboys showed the Blue Devils the right way to throw a bomb. They
lined them out with a ton of energy behind each throw, and the bombs
went shooting straight through the air, level above the trench-lines,
and a distance possibly twice as far as that attained by the Frenchmen.
They stood back waiting for the applause that did not come.

"The objects are two in bomb-throwing, and you did not make either,"
said the French instructor. "You must land your bomb in the
trenches--they do no more harm than wind when they fly straight--and you
must save your arm so that you can throw all afternoon."

So the baseball throw was frowned out, and the half-womanish,
half-cricket throw was brought in.

After the doughboys had mastered their method they were put to getting
somewhere with it. They were given trenches first at ten metres'
distance, and then at twenty. Then there were competitions, and war
training borrowed some of the fun of a track meet. The French had odds
on. No army has ever equalled them for accuracy of bomb-throwing, and
the doughboys, once pried loose from their baseball advantage, were not
in a position to push the French for their laurels. The American Army's
respect for the French began to have growing-pains. But what with
driving hard work, the doughboys learned finally to land a dummy bomb so
that it didn't disgrace them.

With early August came the live grenades, and the first serious defect
in the American's natural aptitude for war-making was turned up. This
defect had the pleasant quality of being sentimentally correct, even if
sharply reprehensible from the French point of view. It was, in brief,
that the soldiers had no sense of danger, and resisted all efforts to
implant one, partly from sheer lack of imagination in training, and
partly from a scorn of taking to cover.

The live bombs were hurled from deep trenches, aimed not at a point, but
at a distance--any distance, so it was safe. But once the bombs were
thrown, every other doughboy would straighten up in his trench to see
what he had hit. Faces were nipped time and again by the fragments of
flying steel, and the French heaped admonitions on admonitions, but it
was long before the American soldiers would take their war-game
seriously.

Later, in the mass attacks on "enemy trenches," when they were ordered
to duck on the grass to avoid the bullets, the doughboys ducked as they
were told, then popped up at once on one elbow to see what they could
see. The Blue Devils training with them lay like prone statues. The
doughboys looked at them in astonishment, and said, openly and
frequently: "But there ain't any bullets."

It was finally from the British, who came later as instructors, that the
doughboys accepted it as gospel that they must be pragmatic about the
dangers, and "act as if...." Then some of the wiseacres at the camp
pronounced the conviction that the Americans thought the French were
melodramatic, and by no means to be copied, until they found their
British first cousins, surely above reproach for needless emotionalism,
were doing the same strange things.

The state of mind into which Allied instructors sought to drive or coax
the Americans was pinned into a sharp phrase by a Far Western enlisted
man before he left his own country. A melancholy relative had said, as
he departed: "Are you ready to give your life to your country?" To which
the soldier answered: "You bet your neck I'm not--I'm going to make some
German give his life for his."

This was representative enough of the sentiments of the doughboys, but
the instructors ran afoul of their deepest convictions when they
insisted that this was an art to be learned, not a mere preference to be
favored.

After the live bombs came the first lessons in machine-gun fire, using
the French machine-gun and automatic rifle. The soldiers were taught to
take both weapons apart and put them together again, and then they were
ordered to fire them.

The first trooper to tackle an automatic rifle aimed the little monster
from the trenches, and opened fire, but he found to his discomfiture
that he had sprayed the hilltops instead of the range, and one of the
officers of the Blue Devils told him he would better be careful or he
would be transferred to the anti-aircraft service.

The veterans of the army, however, had little trouble with the automatic
rifle or the machine-guns, even at first. The target was 200 metres
away, at the foot of a hill, and the first of the sergeants to tackle it
made 30 hits out of a possible 34.

The average for the army fell short of this, but the men were kept at it
till they were thoroughly proficient.

One characteristic of all the training of the early days at camp was
that both officers and men were being prepared to train later troops in
their turn, so that many lectures in war theory and science, and many
demonstrations of both, were included there. This accounted for much of
the additional time required to train the First Division.

But while their own training was unusually long drawn out, they were
being schooled in the most intensive methods in use in either French or
British Army. It was an unending matter for disgust to the doughboy that
it took him so long to learn to hurry.



CHAPTER VII

SPEEDING UP


While the soldiers were still, figuratively speaking, in their own
trenches and learning the several arts of getting out, the officers of
the infantry camp were having some special instructions in instructing.

Young captains and lieutenants were placed in command of companies of
the Blue Devils, and told to put them through their paces--in French.

It was, of course, a point of honor with the officers not to fall back
into English, even in an emergency. One particularly nervous young man,
who had ordered his French platoon to march to a cliff some distance
away, forgot the word for "Halt" or "Turn around" as the disciplined
Blue Devils, eyes straight ahead, marched firmly down upon their doom.
At the very edge, while the American clinched his sticky palms and
wondered what miracle would save him, a helpful French officer called
"Halte," and the American suddenly remembered that the word was the same
in both languages--an experience revoltingly frequent with Americans in
distress with their French.

But disasters such as this were not numerous. The officers worked
excellently, at French as well as soldiering, and little precious time
was needed for them.

Three battalions were at work at this first training--two American and
one French. As these learned their lessons, they were put forward to the
next ones, and new troops began at the beginning. This plan was
thoroughly organized at the very beginning, so that the later enormous
influx of troops did not disrupt it, and as the first Americans came
nearer to the perfection they were after, they were put back to leaven
the raw troops as the French Blue Devils had done for the first of them.

The plan further meant that after the first few weeks, what with
beginners in the First Division and newly arriving troops, the Vosges
fields offered instruction at almost anything along the programme on any
given day.

Over the whole camp, the aim of the French officers was to reproduce
actual battle conditions as absolutely as possible, and to eliminate,
within reason, any advantage that surprise might give to the Germans.

By the end of the first week in August, the best scholars among the
trench-diggers and bombers were being shown how to clean out trenches
with live grenades, and the machine-gunners and marksmen were getting
good enough to be willing to bet their own money on their performances.

Then came the battalion problems, the proper use of grenades by men
advancing in formations against a mythical enemy in intrenched
positions.

From the beginning, the American Army refused to accept the theory that
the war would never again get into the open. They trained in open
warfare, and with a far greater zest--partly, of course, because it was
the thing they knew already, though they found they had some things to
unlearn.

Then the war brought about a reorganization of American army units, and
it was necessary for the officers to familiarize themselves with new
conditions. The reorganization was ordered early in August, and put into
effect shortly afterward. The request from General Pershing that the
administrative units of the infantry be altered to conform with European
systems had in its favor the fact that it economized higher officers and
regimental staffs, for at the same time that divisions were made
smaller, regiments were made larger.

The new arrangement of the infantry called for a company of 250 enlisted
men and 6 commissioned officers, instead of 100 men and 3 officers. Each
company was then divided into 4 platoons, with a lieutenant in command.
Each regiment was made up of 3 battalions of 4 companies each,
supplemented by regimental headquarters and the supply and machine-gun
organizations.

This made it possible to have 1 colonel and 3 battalion commanders
officer 3,600 men, as against 2,000 of the old order.

This army in the making was not called on to show itself in the mass
till August 16, just a month after its hard work had begun. Then
Major-General Sibert, field-commander of the First Division and
best-loved man in France, held a review of all the troops. The
manœuvres were held in a great open plain. The marching was done to
spirited bands, who had to offset a driving rain-storm to keep the men
perked up. The physical exercise of the first month showed in the
carriage of the men, infinitely improved, and they marched admirably, in
spite of the fact that their first training had been a specialization in
technical trench warfare. General Sibert made them a short address of
undiluted praise, and they went back to work again.

A few days later the army had its first intelligence drill, with the
result that some erstwhile soldiers were told off to cook and tend
mules.

The test consisted in delivering oral messages. One message was: "Major
Blank sends his compliments to Captain Nameless, and orders him to move
L Company one-half mile to the east, and support K Company in the
attack." The officer who gave the message then moved up the hill and
prepared to receive it.

The third man up came in panting excitement, full of earnest desire to
do well. "Captain, the major says that you're to move your men a mile to
the east," he said, "and attack K Company." He peeled the potatoes for
supper.

The gas tests came late in August. The officers, believing that fear of
gas could not be excessive, had done some tall talking before the masks
were given out, and in the first test, when the men were to enter a
gas-filled chamber with their masks on, they had all been assured that
one whiff would be fatal. The gas in the chamber was of the
tear-compelling kind, only temporarily harmful, even on exposure to it.
But that was a secret.

The men were drilled in putting their masks on, till the worst of them
could do it in from three to five seconds. Both the French and the
British masks were used, the one much lighter but comparatively riskier
than the other. Officers required the men to have their masks constantly
within reach, and gas alarms used to be called at meal-times, or
whenever it seemed thoroughly inconvenient to have them. The soldiers
were required to drop everything and don the cumbersome contrivances,
no matter how well they knew that there wasn't any gas. There is no
question that this thoroughness saved many lives when the men went into
the trenches.

When they masked and went into the gas-chamber the care they took with
straps and buckles could not have been bettered. One or two of the men
fainted from heat and nervousness, but nobody caught the temporary
blindness that would have been their lot if the gas had not been held
off. And after the first few entrants had returned none the worse, the
rest made a lark of it, and the whole experience stamped on their minds
the uselessness of gas as a weapon if you're handy with the mask.

The first insistence on rifle use and marksmanship, which General
Pershing was to stress later with all the eloquence he had, was heard in
late August. The French said frankly they had neglected the power of the
rifle, and the Americans were put to work to avoid the same mistake. In
target-shooting with rifles the Americans got their first taste of
supremacy. They ceased being novitiates for as long as they held their
rifles, and became respected and admired experts. The first English
Army, "the Old Contemptibles," had all been expert rifle-shots, and,
after a period when rifle fire was almost entirely absent from the
battle-fields, tacticians began to recall this fact, and the cost it had
entailed upon the Germans.

So the doughboys added rifle fire to their other jobs.

About this time the day of the doughboy was a pattern of compactness,
though he called it a harsher name.

It began in the training area at five o'clock in the morning. One
regiment had a story that some of the farm lads used to beat the buglers
up every day and wander about disconsolate, wondering why the morning
was being wasted. This was probably fictional. As a rule, five o'clock
came all too early. There was little opportunity to roll over and have
another wink, for roll-call came at five-thirty, and this was followed
by brief setting-up exercises, designed to give the men an ambition for
breakfast. At this meal French customs were not popular. The poilu, who
begins his day with black coffee and a little bread, was always amazed
to see the American soldier engaged with griddle-cakes and corned-beef
hash, and such other substantial things as he could get at daybreak.
Just after breakfast sick-call was sounded. It was up to the ailing man
to report at that time as a sufferer or forever after hold his peace.
While the sick were engaged in reporting themselves the healthy men
tidied up. Work proper began at seven.

As a rule, bombing, machine-gun, and automatic-rifle fire practice came
in the mornings. Time was called at eleven and the soldiers marched back
to billets for the midday meal. Later, when the work piled up even more,
the meals were prepared on the training-grounds. Rifle and bayonet
practice came in the afternoon. Four o'clock marked the end of the
working-day for all except captains and lieutenants, who never found any
free time in waking hours. In fact, most of the excited
youngsters--almost all under thirty--let their problems perturb their
dreams. The doughboys amused themselves with swims, walks, concerts,
supper, and French children till nine o'clock, when they were always
amiable toward going to bed.

With September came the British to supplement the French and, after a
little, to go far toward replacing them. For the Blue Devils had still
work to do on the Germans, and their "vacation" could not last too long.

A fine and spectacular sham battle put a climax to the stay of the
French, when, after artillery preparation, the Blue Devils took the
newly made American trenches, advancing under heavy barrage. The three
objectives were named Mackensen, Von Kluck, and Ludendorff. The
artillery turned everything it had into the slow-moving screen, under
which the "chasers" crept toward the foe. All the watching doughboys had
been instructed to put on their shrapnel helmets. At the pitch of the
battle some officers found their men using their helmets as good front
seats for the show, but fortunately there were no casualties. Words do
not kill.

The departure of the Blue Devils was attended by a good deal of
home-made ceremony and a universal deep regret. A genuine liking had
sprung up between the Americans and their French preceptors, and when
they marched away from camp the soldiers flung over them what detachable
trophies they had, the strains of all their bands, the unified good
wishes of the whole First Division, and unnumbered promises to be a
credit to their teachers when they got into the line.

It was the bayonet which proved the first connecting-link between the
Americans and the British. American observers had decided after a few
weeks that the bayonet was a peculiarly British weapon, and in
consequence it was decided that for this phase of the training, the army
should rely on the British rather than the French.

The British General Staff obligingly supplied the chief bayonet
instructor of their army with a number of assisting sergeants, and the
squad was sent down to camp.

The British brought two important things, in addition to expert
bayoneting. They were, first, a familiar bluntness of criticism, which
the Americans had rather missed with the polite French, and a
competitive spirit, stirred up wherever possible between rival units of
the A. E. F.

Their willingness to "act" their practice was another factor, though in
that they did not excel the French except in that they could impart it
to the Americans.

The British theory of bayonet work proved to be almost wholly offensive.
They went at their instruction of it with undimmed fire. At the end of
the first week, they gave a demonstration to some visiting officers.
Three short trenches had been constructed in a little dip of land, and
the spectators stood on the hill above them. On the opposite slope tin
cans shone brightly, hoisted on sticks.

"Ready, gentlemen," said the drill-sergeant. "Prepare for trench bayonet
practice by half sections. You're to take these three lines of trenches,
lay out every Boche in the lot, and then get to cover and fire six
rounds at them 'ere tin hats. Don't waste a shot, gentlemen, every
bullet a Boche. Now, then, ready--over the top, and give 'em 'ell, right
in the stomach."

Over the top they went and did as they were told. But the excitement was
not great enough to please the drill-sergeant. He turned to the second
section, and put them through at a rounder pace. Then he took over some
young officers, who were being instructed to train later troops, at
cleaning out trenches. Sacks representing Germans were placed in a
communicating trench.

"Now, remember, gentlemen," said the sergeant, "there's a Fritz in each
one of these 'ere cubby-'oles, and 'e's no dub, is Fritz. 'E's got ears
all down 'is back. Make your feet pneumatic. For 'eaven's sake, don't
sneeze, or 'is nibs will sling you a bomb like winkin', and there'll be
a narsty mess. Ready, Number One! 'Ead down, bayonet up ... it's no use
stickin' out your neck to get a sight of Fritzie in 'is 'ole. Why, if
old Fritz was there, 'e'd just down your point, and then where'd you be?
Why, just a blinkin' casualty, and don't you forget it. Ready again,
bayonet up. Now you see 'em. Quick, down with your point and at 'im.
Tickle 'is gizzard. Not so bad, but I bet you waked 'is nibs in the next
'ole. Keep in mind you're fightin' for your life...."

By the time the officers were into the trench, the excitement was
terrific.

It was such measures as these that made the bayonet work go like
lightning, and cut down the time required at it by more than one-half.

The organized recreation and the competitions, two sturdy British
expedients for morale, always came just after these grimmest of all of
war's practices. The more foolish the game, the more rapturously the
British joined in it. Red Rover and prisoner's base were two prime
favorites. A British major said the British Army had discovered that
when the men came out of the trenches, fagged and horror-struck, the
surest way to bring them back was to set them hard at playing some game
remembered from their childhood.

The British had even harder work, at first, to make the men fall in with
the games than they had with war practice. But the friendly spirit
existing basically between English and Americans, however spatty their
exterior relationships may sometimes be, finally got everybody in
together. The Americans found that a British instructor would as lief
call them "rotten" if he thought they deserved it, but that he did it
so simply and inoffensively that it was, on the whole, very welcome.

So the Americans learned all they could from French and British, and
began the scheme of turning back on themselves, and doing their own
instructing.

The infantry camp was destined to have some offshoots, as the number of
men grew larger, and the specialists required intensive work. Officers'
schools sprang up all over France, and all the supplemental forces,
which had infantry training at first, scattered off to their special
training, notably the men trained to throw gas and liquid fire.

But, for the most part, the camp in the Vosges remained the big central
mill it was designed to be, and in late October, when three battalions
put on their finishing touches in the very battle-line, the cycle was
complete. Before the time when General Pershing offered the
Expeditionary Force to Generalissimo Foch, to put where he chose, the
giant treadway from sea to camp and from camp to battle was grinding in
monster rhythms. It never thereafter feared any influx of its raw
material.



CHAPTER VIII

BACK WITH THE BIG GUNS


THE American Expeditionary Force which went into the great
training-schools of France and England was like nothing so much as a
child who, having long been tutored in a programme of his own make, an
abundance of what he liked and nothing of what he didn't, should be
thrust into some grade of a public school. He would be ridiculously
advanced in mathematics and a dunce at grammar, or historian to his
finger-tips and ignorant that two and two make four. He would amaze his
fellow pupils in each respect equally.

And that was the lot of the Expeditionary Force. The French found them
backward in trench work and bombing, and naturally enough expected that
backwardness to follow through. They conceded the natural quickness of
the pupils, but saw a long road ahead before they could become an army.
Then the Americans tackled artillery, hardest and deepest of the war
problems, and suddenly blossomed out as experts.

Of course, the analogy is not to be leaned on too heavily. The Americans
were not, on the instant, the arch-exponents of artillery in all Europe.
But it is true that in comparison to the size of their army, and to the
extent to which they had prepared nationally for war, their artillery
was stronger than that of any other country on the Allied side at the
beginning of the war, notwithstanding that it was the point where they
might legitimately have been expected to be the weakest.

Hilaire Belloc called the American artillery preparation one of the most
dramatic and welcome surprises of the war.

It must be understood that all this applies only to men and not in the
least to guns. For big guns, the American reliance was wholly upon
France and England, upon the invitation of those two countries when
America entered the war.

And the readiness of America's men was not due to a large preparation in
artillery as such. The blessing arose from the fact that the coast
defense could be diverted, within the first year of war, to the handling
of the big guns for land armies, and thus strengthen the artillery arm
sent to France for final training.

Artillery was every country's problem, even in peace-times. It was the
service which required the greatest wealth and the most profound
training. There was no such thing as a citizenry trained to artillery.
Mathematics was its stronghold, and no smattering could be made to do.
Even more than mathematics was the facility of handling the big guns
when mathematics went askew from special conditions.

These things the coast defense had, if not in final perfection, at least
in creditable degree. And the diversion of it to the artillery in France
stiffened the backbone of the Expeditionary Force to the pride of the
force and the glad amazement of its preceptors.

One other thing the coast defense had done: it had pre-empted the
greater part of America's attention in times of peace and
unpreparedness, so that big-gun problems had received a disproportionate
amount of study. The American technical journals on artillery were
always of the finest. The war services were honeycombed with men who
were big-gun experts.

So when the first artillery training-school opened in France, in
mid-August of 1917, the problems to be faced were all of a more or less
external character.

The first of these, of course, was airplane work. The second was in
mastering gun differences between American and French types, and in
learning about the enormous numbers of new weapons which had sprung from
battle almost day by day.

The camp, when the Americans moved in, had much to recommend it to its
new inhabitants. There need be no attempt to conceal the fact that first
satisfaction came with the barracks, second with the weather, and only
third with the guns and planes.

Some of the artillerymen had come from the infantry camps, and some
direct from the coast. Those from the Vosges camp were boisterous in
their praise of their quarters. They had brick barracks, with floors,
and where they were billeted with the French they found excellent
quarters in the old, low-lying stone and brick houses. The weather would
not have been admired by any outsider. But to the men from the Vosges it
owed a reputation, because they extolled it both day and night. The
artillery camp was in open country, to permit of the long ranges, and if
it sunned little enough, neither did it rain.

The guns and airplanes supplied by the French were simple at first,
becoming, as to guns at least, steadily more numerous and complicated as
the training went on.

The men began on the seventy-fives, approximately the American
three-inch gun, and on the howitzers of twice that size.

The airplane service was the only part of the work wholly new to the
men, and, naturally enough, it was the most attractive.

Although the officers and instructors warned that air observation and
range-finding was by far the most dangerous of all artillery service,
seventy-five per cent of the young officers who were eligible for the
work volunteered for it. This required a two-thirds weeding out, and
insured the very pick of men for the air crews.

The air service with artillery was made over almost entirely by the
French between the time of the war's beginning and America's entrance.
All the old visual aids were abolished, such as smoke-pointers and
rockets, and the telephone and wireless were installed in their stead.
The observation-balloons had the telephone service, and the planes had
wireless.

By these means the guns were first fired and then reported on. The
general system of range-finding was: "First fire long, then fire short,
then split the bracket." This was the joint job of planes and
gunners--one not to be despised as a feat.

In fact, artillery is, of all services, the one most dependent on
co-operation. It is always a joint job, but the joining must be done
among many factors.

Its effectiveness depends first upon the precision of the mathematical
calculation which goes before the pull of the lanyard. This calculation
is complicated by the variety of types of guns and shells, and, in the
case of howitzers, by the variable behavior of charges of different size
and power. But these are things that can be learned with patience, and
require knowledge rather than inspiration.

It is when the air service enters that inspiration enters with it.
Observation must be accurate, in spite of weather, visibility, enemy
camouflage, and everything else. More than that, the observer in the
plane must keep himself safe--often a matter of sheer genius.

The map-maker must do his part, so that targets not so elusive as
field-guns and motor-emplacements can be found without much help from
the air.

Finally, the artillery depends, even more than any other branch of the
service, on the rapidity with which its wants can be filled from the
rear. The mobility of the big pieces, and their constant connections
with ammunition-stores, are matters depending directly on the training
of the artillerymen.

These, then, were the things in which the Americans were either tested
or trained. Their mathematics were A1, as has been noted, and their
familiarity with existing models of big guns sufficient to enable them
to pick up the new types without long effort.

They had a few weeks of heavy going with pad and pencil, then they were
led to the giant stores of French ammunition--more than any of them had
ever seen before--and told to open fire. One dramatic touch exacted by
the French instructors was that the guns should be pointed toward
Germany, no matter how impotent their distance made them.

Long lanes, up to 12,000 metres, were told off for the ranges. The
training was intensive, because at that time there was a half-plan to
put the artillery first into the battle-line. In any case it is easier
to make time on secondary problems than on primary.

Throughout September, while the artillerymen grew in numbers as well as
proficiency, the mastering of gun types was perfected, and the theory of
aim was worked out on paper.

Late in the month the French added more guns, chief among them being a
monster mounted on railway-trucks whose projectile weighed 1,800 pounds.
The artillerymen named her "Mosquito," "because she had a sting,"
although she had served for 300 charges at Verdun. It was not long
before every type of gun in the French Army, and many from the British,
were lined up in the artillery camp, being expertly pulled apart and
reassembled.

By the time the artillery went into battle with the infantry, failing in
their intention to go first alone, but nevertheless first in actual
fighting, they were able to give a fine account of themselves. By the
time they had got back to camp and were training new troops from their
own experience, they were the centre of an extraordinary organization.

The rolling of men from camp to battle and back again, training,
retraining, and fighting in the circle, with an increasing number of men
able to remain in the line, and a constantly increasing number of new
men permitted to come in at the beginning, ground out an admirable
system before the old year was out.

The fact that the artillery-school could not take its material raw did
not make the hitches it otherwise would, chiefly, of course, because of
the coast defense, and somewhat because American college men were found
to have a fine substratum of technical knowledge which artillery could
turn to account.

After all the routine was fairly learned, and there had been a helpful
interim in the line, the artillery practised on some specialties, partly
of their own contribution, and partly those suggested by the other
armies.

One of these, the most picturesque, was the shattering of the
"pill-boxes," German inventions for staying in No Man's Land without
being hit.

A "pill-box" is a tiny concrete fortress, set up in front of the
trenches, usually in groups of fifteen to twenty. They have slot-like
apertures, through which Germans do their sniping. They are supposed to
be immune from anything except direct hit by a huge shell. But the
American artillery camp worked out a way of getting them--with luck.
Each aperture, through which the German inmates sighted and shot, was
put under fire from automatic rifles, coming from several directions at
once, so that it was indiscreet for the Boche to stay near his windows,
on any slant he could devise. Under cover of this rifle barrage, bombers
crept forward, and at a signal the rifle fire stopped, and the bombers
threw their destruction in.

All these accomplishments, which did not take overlong to learn,
enhanced the natural value of the American artilleryman. He became, in a
short time, the pride of the army and a warmly welcomed mainstay to the
Allies.

Major-General Peyton C. March, who took the artillery to France and
commanded them in their days of organization, before he was called back
to be Chief of Staff at Washington, was always credited, by his men,
with being three-fourths of the reason why they made such a showing.
General March always credited the matter to his men. At any rate,
between them they put their country's best foot foremost for the first
year of America in France, and they served as optimism centres even when
distress over other delays threatened the stoutest hearts.



CHAPTER IX

THE EYES OF THE ARMY


America's beginnings in the air service were pretty closely kin to her
other beginnings--she furnished the men and took over the apparatus. And
although by September 1, 1917, she had large numbers of aviators in the
making in France, they were flying--or aspiring to--in French schools,
under American supervision, with French machines and French instructors.

There existed, in prospect, and already in detailed design, several
enormous flying-fields, to be built and equipped by America, as well as
half a dozen big repair-shops, and one gigantic combination repair-shop,
assembling-shop, and manufacturing plant.

But in the autumn, when there were aviators waiting in France to go up
that very day, there was no waiting on fields trimmed by America.

When the main school, under American supervision, had filled to
overflowing, the remaining probationers were scattered among the French
schools under French supervision. Meanwhile, the engineers and
stevedores shared the work of constructing "the largest aviation-field
in the world" in central France.

It was once true of complete armies that they could be trained to
warfare in their own home fields, and then sent to whatever part of the
world happened to be in dispute, and they required no more additional
furbishing up than a short rest from the journey. That is no longer true
of anything about an army except the air service, and it isn't literally
true of them. But they approach it.

So it was practicable to give the American aviators nine-tenths of their
training at home, and leave the merest frills to a few spare days in
France. This, of course, takes no account of the first weeks at the
battle-front, which are only nominally training, since in the course of
them a flier may well have to battle for his life, and often does catch
a German, if he chances on one as untutored as himself.

The French estimate of the necessary time to make an aviator is about
four months before he goes up on the line, and about four months in
patrol, on the line, before he is a thoroughly capable handler of a
battle-plane. They cap that by saying that an aviator is born, not made,
anyway, and that "all generalizations about them are untrue, including
this one."

The air policy of France, however, was in a state of great fluidity at
this time. They were not prepared to lay down the law, because they were
in the very act of giving up their own romantic, adventurous system of
single-man combat, and were borrowing the German system of squadron
formation. They were reluctant enough to accept it, let alone
acknowledge their debt to the Germans. But the old knight-errantry of
the air could not hold up against the new mass attacks. And the French
are nothing if not practical.

Even their early war aviators had prudence dinned into them--that
prudence which does not mean a niggardliness of fighting spirit, but
rather an abstaining from foolhardiness.

Each aviator was warned that if he lost his life before he had to, he
was not only squandering his own greatest treasure, but he was leaving
one man less for France.

This was the philosophy of the training-school. If the French were
impatient with a flier who lost his life to the Germans through excess
of friskiness, they were doubly so at the flier who endangered his life
at school through heedlessness.

"If you pull the wrong lever," they said, "you will kill a man and wreck
a machine. Your country cannot afford to pay, either, for your fool
mistakes."

But there their dogma ended. Once the flier had learned to handle his
machine, his further behavior was in the hands of American officers
solely, and these, he found, were stored with several very definite
ideas.

The first of these--the most marked distinction between the French
system and the American--was that all American aviators should know the
theories of flying and most of its mathematics.

Concerning these things the French cared not a hang.

Neither did the American aviators. But they toed the mark just the
same, and many a youngster gnawed his pencil indoors and cursed the fate
that had placed him with a country so finicky about air-currents on
paper and so indifferent to the joys of learning by ear.

The Americans accepted from the beginning the edict on squadron flying.
It was as much a part of their training as field-manœuvres for the
infantry. And because they had no golden days of derring-do to look back
upon, they did less grumbling. Besides, there was always the chance of
getting lost, and patrols offered some good opportunities to the
venturesome.

The air service had at this time an extra distinction. They were the
only arm of America's service that had really impressed the Germans. The
German experts, as they spoke through their newspapers, were
contemptuous of the army and all its works. They maintained that it
would be impossible for American transports to bring more than half a
million men to France, if they tried forever, because the submarines
would add to the inherent difficulties, and make "American
participation" of less actual menace than that of Roumania.

The Frankfurter Zeitung said: "There is no doubt that the Entente lay
great stress on American assistance on this point (air warfare). Nor do
we doubt that the technical resources of the enemy will achieve
brilliant work in this branch. But all this has its limits ... in this
field, superiority in numbers is by no means decisive. Quality and the
men are what decide."

Major Hoffe, of the German General Staff, wrote in the Weser Zeitung:
"The only American help seriously to be reckoned with is aerial aid."

There was a quantity of such talk. Incidentally, the same experts who
limited America's troops to half a million in France at the most
indulgent estimate, said, over and over, that a million were to be
feared, just the number announced to be in France by President Wilson
one year from the time of the first debarkation.

The aviators worked hard enough to deserve the German honor. In the
French school supervised by the Americans the schedule would have
furnished Dickens some fine material for pathos.

The day began at 4 A. M., with a little coffee for an eye-opener. The
working-day began in the fields at 5 sharp. If the weather permitted
there were flights till 11, when the pupil knocked off for a midday
meal. He was told to sleep then till 4 in the afternoon, when flying
recommenced, and continued till 8.30. The rest of his time was all his
own. He spent it getting to bed.

There was an average of four months under this régime. The flier began
on the ground, and for weeks he was permitted no more than a dummy
machine, which wobbled along the ground like a broken-winged duck, and
this he used to learn levers and mechanics--those things he had toiled
over on paper before he was even allowed on the field.

After a while he was permitted in the air with an instructor, and
finally alone. There were creditably few disasters. For months there was
never a casualty. But if a man had an accident it was a perfectly
open-and-shut affair. Either he ruined himself or he escaped. It was
part of the French system with men who escaped to send them right back
into the air, as soon as they could breathe, so that the accident would
not impair their flying-nerves.

After the three or four months of foundation work, if the term is not
too inept for flying, the aviator had his final examination, a
triangular flight of about ninety miles, with three landings. The
landings are the great trick of flying. Like the old Irish story, it
isn't the falling that hurts you, it's the sudden stop.

If the pupil made his landings with accuracy he was passed on to the big
school at Pau, where acrobatics are taught. The flight acrobat was the
ace, the armies found. And no man went to battle till he could do
spiral, serpentine, and hairpin turns, could manage a tail spin, and "go
into a vrille"--a corkscrew fall which permitted the flier to make great
haste from where he was, and yet not lose control of his machine, at the
same time that he made a tricky target for a Boche machine-gun.

While all this training was going on the ranks of American aviators were
filling in at the top. The celebrated Lafayette Escadrille, the American
aviators who joined the French Army at the beginning of the war, was
taken into the American Army in the late summer. Then all the Americans
who were in the French aviation service who had arrived by way of the
Foreign Legion were called home.

These were put at instructing for a time, then their several members
became the veteran core of later American squadrons. This air unit was
finally placed at 12 fliers and 250 men, and before Christmas there was
a goodly number of them, a number not to be told till the care-free and
uncensored days after the war.

By the beginning of the new year American aviation-fields were taking
shape. The engineers had laid a spur of railroad to link the largest of
them with the main arteries of communication, and the labor units had
built the same sort of small wooden city that sprang up all over America
as cantonments.

There were roomy barracks, a big hall where chapel services alternated
with itinerant entertainers, a little newspaper building, plenty of
office-barracks with typewriters galore and the little models on which
aviators learn their preliminary lessons.

There is one training-field six miles long and a mile and a half wide,
where all kinds of instruction is going on, even to acrobatics.

And there are several large training-schools just behind the
fighting-lines, which have plenty of visiting Germans to practise on.

The enormity of the American air programme made it a little unwieldy at
first, and it got a late start. But on the anniversary of its beginning
it had unmeasured praise from official France, and even before that the
French newspapers had loudly sung its praises.

The American aviator as an individual was a success from the beginning.
He has unsurpassed natural equipment for an ace, and his training has
been unprecedentedly thorough. And he has dedicated his spirit through
and through. He has set out to make the Germans see how wise they were
to be afraid.



CHAPTER X

THE SCHOOLS FOR OFFICERS


The first economy effected after the broad sweep of training was in
swing was to segregate the officers for special training, and these
officers' schools fell into two types.

First, there was the camp for the young commissioned officers from
Plattsburg, and similar camps in America, to give them virtually the
same training as the soldiers had, but at a sharper pace, inclusive also
of more theory, and to increase their executive ability in action;
second, there was the school established by General Pershing, late in
the year, through which non-commissioned officers could train to take
commissions.

Of the first type, there were many, of the second, only one.

The camp for the Plattsburg graduates which turned its men first into
the fighting was one having about 300 men, situated in the south of
France, where the weather could do its minimum of impeding.

These youngsters arrived in September, and they were fighting by
Thanksgiving. The next batch took appreciably less time to train, partly
because the organization had been tried out and perfected on the first
contingent, and partly because they were destined for a longer stay in
the line before they were hauled back for training others. This process
was duplicated in scores of schools throughout France, so that the
Expeditionary Force, what with its reorganization to require fewer
officers, and its complementary schools, never lacked for able
leadership.

The first school was under command of Major-General Robert Bullard, a
veteran infantry officer with long experience in the Philippines to draw
on, and a conviction that the proper time for men to stop work was when
they dropped of exhaustion.

His officers began their course with a battalion of French troops to aid
them, and they were put into company formation, of about 75 men to the
company, just as the humble doughboy was.

They were all infantry officers, who were to take command as first and
second lieutenants, but they specialized in whatever they chose. They
were distinguished by their hat-bands: white for bayonet experts, blue
for the liquid-fire throwers, yellow for the machine-gunners, red for
the rifle-grenadiers, orange for the hand-grenadiers, and green for the
riflemen. These indicated roughly the various things they were taught
there, in addition to trench-digging and the so-called battalion
problems, recognizable to the civilian as team-work.

Their work was not of the fireside or the library. It was the joint
opinion of General Pershing, General Sibert, and General Bullard that
the way to learn to dig a trench was to dig it, and that nothing could
so assist an officer in directing men at work as having first done the
very same job himself.

They had a permanent barracks which had once housed young French
officers, in pre-war days, and they had a generous Saturday-to-Monday
town leave.

These two benefactions, plus their tidal waves of enthusiasm, carried
them through the herculean programme devised by General Bullard and the
assisting French officers and troops.

They began, of course, with trench-digging, and followed with live
grenades, machine-guns, automatic rifles, service-shells, bayonet work,
infantry formation for attack, and gas tests. Then they were initiated
into light and fire signals, star-shells, gas-bombing, and liquid fire.

Last, they came in on the rise of the wave of rifle popularity, and
trained at it even more intensively than the first of the doughboys.
"The rifle is the American weapon," was General Pershing's constant
reiteration, "and it has other uses than as a stick for a bayonet."

But efficacious as schools of this type were, there was a need they did
not meet, a need first practical, then sentimental, and equally valuable
on both counts.

This was the training for the man from the ranks. The War College in
America, acting in one of its rare snatches of spare time, had ordered a
school for officers in America to which any enlisted man was eligible.

General Pershing overhauled this arrangement in one particular: he
framed his school in France so that nothing lower than a corporal could
enter it. This was on the theory that a man in the ranks who had ability
showed it soon enough, and was rewarded by a non-com. rank. That was the
time when the way ahead should rightfully be opened to him.

This school commenced its courses just before Christmas, with everything
connected with it thoroughly worked out first.

The commissions it was entitled to bestow went up to the rank of major.
Scholars entered it by recommendation of their superior officers, which
were forwarded by the commanders of divisions or other separate units,
and by the chiefs of departmental staffs, to the commander-in-chief.
Before these recommendations could be made, the record of the applicant
must be scanned closely, and his efficiency rated--if he were a
linesman, by fighting quality, and if in training still or behind the
lines, by efficiency in all other duties.

Then he entered and fared as it might happen. If he succeeded, his place
was waiting for him at his graduation, as second lieutenant in a
replacement division.

Enormous numbers of these replacement divisions had to be held behind
the lines. From them, all vacancies occurring in the combat units in the
lines were filled. And rank, within them, proceeded in the same manner
as in any other division. Their chief difference was that there was no
limit set upon the number of second lieutenants they could include, so
that promotions waited mainly for action to earn them.

Within the combat units, the vacancies were to be filled two-thirds by
men in line of promotion within the unit itself, and one-third from the
replacement divisions.

The replacement division's higher officers were those recovered from
wounds, who had lost their place in line, and those who had not yet had
any assignments. To keep up a sufficient number of replacement
divisions, the arriving depot battalions were held to belong with them.

This school was located near the fighting-line, and its instructors were
preponderantly American.

It put the "stars of the general into the private's knapsack," and
began the great mill of officer-making that the experiences of other
armies had shown to be so tragically necessary. Needless to say, it was
packed to overflowing from its first day.



CHAPTER XI

SOME DISTINGUISHED VISITORS


So satisfactory to itself was the progress of the American Expeditionary
Force in becoming an army that by the end of its first month of training
it was ready for important visitors. True, the first to come was one who
would be certain to understand the force's initial difficulties, and who
would also be able to help as well as inspect. He was General Petain,
Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, and he came for inspection of
both French and American troops on August 19, three days after General
Sibert had had a family field-day to take account of his troops.

General Petain came down with General Pershing, and the first inspection
was of billets. Then the two generals reviewed the Alpine Chasseurs, and
General Petain awarded some medals which had been due since the month
before, when the Blue Devils were in the line.

After General Petain's visit with the American troops, he recommended
their training and their physique equally, and said: "I think the
American Army will be an admirable fighting force within a short time."

This was also General Pershing's day for learning--his first session
with one of his most difficult tasks. He had to follow the example of
General Petain, and kiss the children, and accept the bouquets thrust
upon both generals by all the little girls of the near-by Vosges towns.

General Pershing did better with the kissing as his day wore on, though
its foreignness to his experience was plain to the end. But with the
bouquets he was an outright failure. Graciously as he might accept them,
the holding of them was much as a doughboy might hold his first armful
of live grenades.

The camp's next distinguished visitor was Georges Clemenceau, the
veteran French statesman who was soon to be Premier of France.
Clemenceau saw American troops that day for the second time, the first
having been when, as a young French senator, he watched General Grant's
soldiers march into Richmond.

He recalled to the sons and grandsons of those dusty warriors how
inspired a sight it had been, and he added that he hoped to see the
present generation march into Berlin.

When Clemenceau talked to the doughboys, however, he had more than old
memories with which to stir them. He has a graceful, complete command of
the English language, in which he made the two or three addresses
interspersed in the full programme of his stay.

In one speech M. Clemenceau said: "I feel highly honored at the
privilege of addressing you. I know America well, having lived in your
country, which I have always admired, and I am deeply impressed by the
presence of an American army on French soil, in defense of liberty,
right, and civilization, against the barbarians. My mind compares this
event to the Pilgrim Fathers, who landed on Plymouth Rock, seeking
liberty and finding it. Now their children's children are returning to
fight for the liberty of France and the world.

"You men have come to France with disinterested motives. You came not
because you were compelled to come, but because you wished to come.
Your country always had love and friendship for France. Now you are at
home here, and every French house is open to you. You are not like the
people of other nations, because your motives are devoid of personal
interest, and because you are filled with ideals. You have heard of the
hardships before you, but the record of your countrymen proves that you
will acquit yourselves nobly, earning the gratitude of France and the
world."

At the end of this speech General Sibert said to the men who had heard
it: "You will henceforth be known as the Clemenceau Battalion." That was
the first unit of the American Army to have any designation other than
its number.

Another civilian visitor was next, though he was civilian only in the
sense that he had neither task nor uniform of the army. He was Raymond
Poincaré, President of the French Republic, the leader of the French
"bitter-enders," and sometimes called the stoutest-hearted soldier
France has ever had.

President Poincaré made a thorough inspection. He, too, began with the
billets, but he was not content to see them from the outside. In fact,
the first that one new major-general saw of him was the half from the
waist down, the other half being obscured by the floor of the barn attic
he was peering into.

President Poincaré made cheering speeches to the men, for the force of
which they were obliged to rely upon his gestures and his intonations,
since he spoke no English. But his sense was not wholly lost to the
doughboys. At the peak of one of the President's most soaring flights
those who understood French interrupted to applaud him.

"What did he say?" asked a doughboy.

"He said to give 'em hell," said another.

Fourth, and last, of the great Frenchmen, and greatest, from the soldier
point of view, was Marshal Joffre, Marne hero, who came and spent a
night and a day at camp.

It was mid-October when he came, and weeks of driving rain had preceded
him. In spite of their gloom over the weather, the doughboys were
eagerly anticipating the visit of Joffre, and they were wondering if the
man of many battles would think them worth standing in the rain to
watch.

A detachment of French buglers--buglers whom the Americans could never
sufficiently admire or imitate, because they could twirl the bugles
between beats and take up their blasts with neither pitch nor time
lost--waited outside the quarters where the marshal was to spend the
night. Half an hour before his motor came up the sun broke through the
drizzle.

"He brings it with him," said a doughboy.

Marshal Joffre was accompanied by General Pershing, the Pershing
personal staff and Joffre's aide, Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Fabry, who was
with the French Mission in America. There were ovations in all the
French villages through which they passed, and there were uproarious
cheers when the party reached the American officers who were to be
addressed by Marshal Joffre. In his short speech he said that America
had come to help deliver humanity from the yoke of German insolence, and
added: "Let us be united. Victory surely will be ours."

Later, after picked men had shown Joffre what they could do with
grenades and bayonets, the marshal made a short speech to them, telling
them of how his visit to America had cheered and strengthened him, and
how even greater was the stimulation he had had from seeing the
Americans train in France.

In a statement to the Associated Press he said: "I have been highly
gratified by what I have seen to-day. I am confident that when the time
comes for American troops to go into the trenches and meet the enemy
they will give the same excellent account of themselves in action as
they did to-day in practice."

Northcliffe came in December, with Colonel House and members of the
House Mission. He wrote a long impression of his visit for the English
at home, in which he said that the finest sight he saw was the American
rifle practice, in which the United States troops did exceptionally
well. Then he praised them for their mastery of the British type of
trench mortar, for their accuracy with grenades and, most significant of
all, for their able handling of themselves after the bombs were thrown,
so that they should have a maximum of safety in battle. The doughboys
had finally learned their hardest lesson.

Sir Walter Roper Lawrence, who was coming to America on a special war
mission, went to camp in early December to see how the doughboys fared,
so that he might report on them at home.

He had just inquired of General Sir Julian Byng, who had accidentally
had the assistance of some American engineers at Cambrai, what they
should be valued at, and Sir Julian had answered: "Very earnest, very
modest, and very helpful."

"I must say that is my opinion, too," said Sir Walter, when he came to
camp. "They are fine fellows to look at--as good-looking soldiers as any
man might wish to see. They have a wonderfully springy step, much more
springy than one sees in other soldiers. They are clean, well set up,
and they are always cheerful. They are splendidly fed and well
quartered, and they are desperately keen to learn, and as desperately
keen to get into the thick of things. If they seem to have any worries
it is that they are not getting in as quickly as they would like to.

"The American troops have everywhere made a decidedly favorable
impression. I am extremely proud of my British citizenship, I have been
all my life, but if I were an American I would be insufferably proud of
my citizenship. In all history there is nothing that approaches her
transporting such an enormous army so great a distance oversea to fight
for an ideal."

After the new year W. A. Appleton, secretary of the General Federation
of Trades Unions in England, made a visit to France, and described the
American camps for his own public through the Federation organ.

"I see everywhere," he wrote, "samples of the American armies that we
are expecting will enable the Allies to clear France of the Germans.
Most of the men are fine specimens of humanity, and those with whom I
spoke showed no signs of braggadocio, too frequently attributed to
America. They were quiet, well-spoken fellows, fully alive to the
seriousness of the task they have undertaken, and they apparently have
but one regret--that they had not come into the war soon enough. It was
pleasant to talk to these men and to derive encouragement from their
quiet, unobtrusive strength."

These were the things which were playing upon public opinion in France
and England, reinforcing the good-will with which the first American
soldiers were welcomed there.

When United States soldiers paraded again in the streets of London, late
in the spring of 1918, and when they marched down the new Avenue du
Président Wilson in Paris, on July 4, 1918, the greetings to them had
lost in hysteria and grown in depth, till the magnitude of the
demonstrations and the quality of them drew amazement from the oldest of
the old stagers.



CHAPTER XII

THE MEN WHO DID EVERYTHING


If the American Expeditionary Force had landed in the middle of the
Sahara Desert instead of France, it would not have been under greater
necessity to do things for itself, and immediately. For even where the
gallant French were entirely willing to pull their belts in one more
notch and make provision for the newcomers, the moral obligation not to
permit their further sacrifice was enormous. And although, as it
happened, there were many things, at first, in which the A. E. F. was
obliged to ask French aid, this number was speedily cut down and finally
obliterated.

The men on whom fell the largest burden of making American troops
self-sufficing in the first half-year of war, were the nine regiments of
engineers recruited in nine chief cities of America before General
Pershing sailed. They were officered to a certain extent by Regular Army
engineers, but more by railroad officials who were recruited at the
same time from all the large railroads of America.

And they operated what roads they found, and built more, till finally,
after a year, during which they had assistance from the army engineers
and a fair number of labor and special units, they had created in France
a railroad equal to any one of the middle-sized roads of long standing
in this country, with road-beds, rolling-stock, and equipment equal to
the best, and railway terminals which, in the case of one of their
number, rivalled the port of Hamburg.

These were the men who were first to arrive in Europe after General
Pershing, who beat them over by only a few days. They were not fighting
units, so that they did not dim the glory of the Regulars, though they
had the honor to carry the American army uniform first through the
streets of London.

They were the first of the army in the battle-line, too, though again
their civilian pursuit, though failing to serve to protect them against
German attack, deprived them of the flag-flying and jubilation that
attended the infantrymen and artillerymen in late October.

But though their public honor was so limited, their private honor with
the Expeditionary Force was without stint. It was "the engineers here"
and "the engineers there" till it must have seemed to them that they
were carrying the burden of the entire world.

On May 6, 1917, the War Department issued this statement: "The War
Department has sent out orders for the raising, as rapidly as possible,
of nine additional regiments of engineers which are destined to proceed
to France at the earliest possible moment, for work on the lines of
communication.... All details regarding the force will be given out as
fast as compatible with the best public interests."

The recruiting-points were New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston,
Pittsburgh, Detroit, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. It was
the job of each city to provide a regiment. And it became the job of the
great railway brotherhoods to see that neither the kind nor the number
of men accepted would cripple the railways at home.

The War Department asked for 12,000 men, and had offers of about four
times that many. The result was, of course, that the 9 regiments were
men of magnificent physique and sterling equipment. One regiment boasted
125 members who measured more than 6 feet.

Their first official task was to help to repair and man the French
railways leading up to the lines, carrying food for men and guns.

Their next was to build and man the railways which were to connect the
American seaport with the training-camps, and last, with the
fighting-line itself.

The promise of immediate action in France was fulfilled to the letter.
Two months from the day the recruiting began, the "Lucky 13th," the
regiment recruited in Chicago, landed in a far-away French town, whose
inhabitants leaned out of their windows in the late, still night, to
throw them roses and whispers of good cheer--anything louder than
whispers being under a ban because of the nearness to the front--and the
day following, with French crews at their elbows, they were running
French trains up and down the last line of communications.

These were men who had years of railroading behind them. Many of them
were officered by the same men who had been their directors in civil
life. It was no uncommon thing to hear a private address his captain by
his first name. One day a private said to his captain. "Bill, you got
all the wrong dope on this," to which the captain replied severely: "I
told you before about this discipline--if you want to quarrel with my
orders, you call me mister."

But military discipline was never a real love with the engineers.
"What's military discipline to us? We got Rock Island discipline," said
a brawny first lieutenant, when, because he was a fellow passenger on a
train with a correspondent, he felt free to speak his mind.

"I won't say it's not all right in its way, but it's not a patch on what
we have in a big yard. A man obeys in his sleep, for he knows if he
don't somebody's life may have to pay for it--not his own, either, which
would make it worse. That's Rock Island. But it don't involve any
salutin', or 'if-you-pleasin'.' If my fellows say 'Tom' I don't pay any
attention, unless there's some officer around."

This attitude toward discipline characterizes all the special units to a
certain degree, though the engineers somewhat more than the rest, for
the reason that they had to offer not a mere negation of discipline but
a substitute of their own.

But, whatever their sentiments toward their incidental job as soldiers,
there was no mistaking their zest for their regular job of railroading.

They found the railways of France in amazingly fine condition, in spite
of the fact that they had, many of them, been built purely for war uses,
and under the pressure inevitable in such work. Those behind the British
lines were equally fine.

As soon as the American engineers appeared in the communication-trains,
their troubles with the Germans began. On the second run of the "Lucky
13th" men, a German airplane swept down and flew directly over the
engine for twenty minutes, taking strict account.

Then they began to bomb the trains, and many a time the crews had to get
out and sit under the trains till the raid was over.

The engineers kept their non-combatant character till after the December
British thrust at Cambrai, when half a hundred of them, working with
their picks and shovels behind the lines, suddenly found themselves face
to face with German counter-attacking troops, and had to fight or run.
The engineers snatched up rifles and such weapons as they could from
fallen soldiers, and with these and their shovels helped the British to
hold their line.

The incident was one of the most brilliant of the year, partly because
it was dramatically unexpected, partly because it permitted the
Americans to prove their readiness to fight, in whatever circumstances.
The spectacle of fifty peaceful engineers suddenly turned warriors of
pick and shovel was used by the journals of many countries to
demonstrate what manner of men the Americans were.

But the work for British and French, on their strategic railways, was
not to continue for long. The great American colony was already on
blue-print, and the despatches from Washington were estimating that many
millions would have to be spent for the work.

The annual report of Major-General William Black, chief of engineers,
which was made public in December, stated that almost a billion would
be needed for engineering work in France in 1919, if the work then in
progress were to be concluded satisfactorily.

General Black's report showed that equipment for 70 divisions, or
approximately 1,000,000 men, had been purchased within 350 hours after
Congress declared war, including nearly 9,000,000 articles, among them 4
miles of pontoon bridges.

Every unit sent to France took its full equipment along, and the cost of
the "railroad engineers" alone was more than $12,000,000.

Not long after the men were running the French and British trains, they
were building their lines in Flanders, in the interims of building the
American lines from sea to camp.

The building was through, and over, such mud as passes description. The
engineers tell a story of having passed a hat on a road, and on picking
it up, found that there was a soldier under it. They dug him out. "But I
was on horseback," the soldier protested.

The tracks were rather floated than built. Where the shell fire was
heavy, the men could only work a few hours each day, under barrage of
artillery or darkness, and they were soon making speed records.

"The fight against the morass is as stern and difficult as the fight
against the Boche," said an engineer, speaking of the Flanders tracks.
One party of men, in an exposed position, laid 180 feet of track in a
record time, and left the other half of the job till the following day.
When they came back, they found that their work had been riddled with
shell-holes, whereat they fell to and finished the other half and
repaired the first half in the same time as had starred them on the
first day's job.

It was not long till they had a European reputation.

The tracks they were to lay for America, though they were far enough
from the Flanders mud, had a sort of their own to offer. The terminal
was built by tremendous preliminaries with the suction-dredge. The long
lines of communication between camp and sea were varyingly difficult,
some of them offering nothing to speak of, some of them abominable. The
little spur railways leading to the hospitals, warehouses, and
subsidiary training-camps which lay afield from the main line were more
quickly done.

In addition to all these things, the engineers were the handy men of
France. They picked up some of the versatility of the Regular Army
engineers, whose accomplishments are never numbered, and they built
hospitals and barracks, too, in spare time, and they laid waterways, and
helped out in General Pershing's scheme to put the inland waterways of
France to work. The canal system was finally used to carry all sorts of
stores into the interior of France, and before the engineers were
finished the army was getting its goods by rail, by motor, and by boat,
though it was not till late in the year that the transportation
machinery could avoid great jams at the port.

The engineers were, from first to last, the most picturesque Americans
in France. They came from the great yards and terminals of East and
West, they brought their behavior, their peculiar flavor of speech, and
their efficiency with them, and they refused to lose any of them, no
matter what the outside pressure.

"It's a great life," said one of them from the Far West, "and I may say
it's a blamed sight harder than shooing hoboes off the cars back home.
But there's times when I could do with a sight of the missus and the
kids and the Ford. If it takes us long to lick 'em, it won't be my
fault."



CHAPTER XIII

BEHIND THE LINES


The difficulty of describing the American organization behind the lines
in France lies in the fact that the story is nowhere near finished. The
end of the first year saw huge things done, but huger ones still in the
doing, and the complete and the incomplete so blended that there was
almost no point at which a finger could be laid and one might say: "They
have done this."

But at the end of the first year all the foundations were down and the
corner-stones named, and though much necessary secrecy still envelops
the actual facts, something at least can be told.

America could no more move direct from home to the line in the matter of
her supplies than she could in that of her men. And it was at her
intermediate stopping-point, in both cases, that her troubles lay. It
was, as Belloc put it, the problem of the hour-glass. Plenty of room at
both ends and plenty of material were invalidated by the little strait
between.

It was not a month from the time of the first landing of troops, in
June, 1917, before the wharfs of the ports chiefly used by incoming
American supplies were stacked high with unmoved cases.

The transportation men worked with might and main, but the Shipping
Board at home, under the goad of restless and anxious people, was
sending and sending the equipment to follow the men. And once landed,
the supplies found neither roof to cover them nor means to carry them
on.

This was the point at which General Pershing began to lament to
Washington over his scarcity of stevedores, and labor units, and soon
thereafter was the point at which he got them.

On September 14, 1917, W. W. Atterbury, vice-president of the
Pennsylvania Railroad, was appointed director-general of transportation
of the United States Expeditionary Force in France, and was given the
rank of brigadier-general. General Atterbury was already in France, and
had been offering such expert advice and assistance to General Pershing
as his civilian capacity would permit. With his appointment came the
announcement of others, giving him the assistance of many well-known
American railroad men.

When the First Division reached France it was discovered that it
required four tons of tonnage to provide for each man. That meant 80,000
tons for each division, which, in the figures of the railroad man, meant
eighty trains of 1,000 tons capacity for every division.

For the first 200,000 men in France, who formed the basis for the first
railroad reckoning, 800 trains were necessary.

Obviously, these trains could not be taken from the already burdened
French. Obviously, they could not tax further the trackage in France,
though the trains and engines shipped had essential measurements to
conform to the French road-beds, so that interchange was easy. Still
more obviously, the trains could not be made in this country and rolled
onto the decks of ships for transportation.

So that before the first soldier packed his first kit on his way to
camp the A. E. F. required railway-tracks, enormous reception-wharfs,
assembling-plants and factories, and arsenals and warehouses beyond
number.

The only things which America could buy in France were those which could
be grown there, by women and old men and children, and those which were
already made. The only continuing surplus product of France was big
guns, which resulted from their terrific specialization in
munition-plants during the war's first three years.

To find out what could legitimately be bought in France, and to buy it,
paying no more for it than could be avoided by wise purchasing, General
Pershing created a General Purchasing Board in Paris late in August.
This board had a general purchasing agent at its head, who was the
representative of the commander-in-chief, and he acted in concert with
similar boards of the other Allied armies. His further job was to
co-ordinate all the efforts of subordinate purchasing agents throughout
the army. The chief of each supply department and of the Red Cross and
the Y. M. C. A. named purchasing agents to act under this board.

It was not long till this board was supervising the spending of many
millions of dollars a month, which gives a fair estimate of what the
total expenditure, both at home and abroad, had to be.

As a case in point, a single branch of this board bought in France, the
first fortnight of November, 26,000 tons of tools and equipment, 4,000
tons of railway-ties, and 160 tons of cars. The cost was something over
$3,000,000. These purchases alone saved the total cargo space of 20
vessels of 1,600 tons each.

The General Purchasing Board adopted the price-fixing policy created at
Washington, in which it was aided by the shrewdest business heads among
the British and French authorities.

This board also had power to commandeer ships, when they had to--notably
in the case of bringing shipments of coal from England, where it was
fairly plentiful, to France, where there was almost none.

A second scheme for co-ordination put into effect by General Pershing
was a board at which heads of all army departments could meet and act
direct, without the necessity of going through the commander-in-chief.
When the quartermaster's department made its budgets, the co-ordination
department went over them and revised the estimates downward, or drafted
work or supplies from some other department with a surplus, or
redistributed within the quartermaster's stores, perhaps even granted
the first requests. But there was a vast saving throughout the army
zone.

The problem of America's "behind the lines," including as it did the
creating of every phase of transportation, from trackage to terminals,
and then providing the things to transport, not only for an army growing
into the millions, but for much of civilian France, was one which, all
wise observers said, was the greatest of the war. Just how staggering
were these difficulties must not be told till later, but surmises are
free. And the praise for overcoming them which poured from British and
French onlookers had the value and authority of coming from men who had
themselves been through like crises, and who knew every obstacle in the
way of the Americans.

But if the preparatory stages must be abridged in the telling, there is
no ban on a little expansiveness as to what was finally done.

Within a year American engineers and laborers and civilians working
behind the lines had made of the waste lands around an old French port a
line of modern docks where sixteen heavy cargo-vessels could rest at the
same time, being unloaded from both sides at once at high speed, by the
help of lighters. These docks were made by a big American pile-driver,
which in less than a year had driven 30,000 piles into the marshy ooze,
and made a foundation for enormous docks.

Just behind the docks is a plexus of railway-lines which, what with
incoming and outgoing tracks and switches and side-lines, contains 200
miles of trackage in the terminal alone.

It is for the present no German's business how many hundred miles of
double and triple track lead back to the fighting-line, and it is the
censor's rule that one must tell nothing a German shouldn't know. But
there is plenty of track, figures or no figures.

Equal preparation has been made for such supplies as must remain
temporarily at the docks.

There are 150 warehouses, most of them completed, each 400 by 50 feet,
and each with steel walls and top and concrete floors. When the
warehouses are finished they will be able to hold supplies for an army
of a million men for thirty days. They are supplemented by a giant
refrigerating-plant, with an enormous capacity, which is served by an
ice-making factory with an output of 500 tons daily, the whole ice
department being operated by a special "ice unit" of the army,
officially called Ice Plant Company 301. The ice department also has its
own refrigerator-cars for delivering its wares frozen to any part of
France.

To provide for gun appetites as abundantly as for human, an arsenal was
begun at the same point, which, when completed, will have cost a hundred
million dollars. This arsenal and ordnance-depot is being built by an
American firm, at the request of the French Mission in America, who
vetoed the American project to give the work to French contractors,
because of the man-shortage in France.

It has been built under the direct supervision of the War Department,
and was specifically planned so that it might in time, or case of need,
become one of the main munition-distribution centres for all the Allies.
Small arms and ammunition are stored and dispensed there, while big guns
go direct from French factories.

Regiments of mechanical and technical experts were constantly being
recruited in America for this work, and they were sent by the thousands
every month of the first year. Maintenance of the ordnance-base alone
requires 450 officers and 16,000 men.

Included in the arsenal and ordnance-depot are a gun-repair shop,
equipped to reline more than 800 guns a month, a carriage-repair plant
of large capacity, a motor-vehicle repair-shop, able to overhaul more
than 1,200 cars a month, a small-arms repair-shop, ready to deal with
58,000 small arms and machine-guns a month, a shop for the repair of
horse and infantry equipment, and a reloading-plant, capable of
reloading 100,000 artillery-cartridges each day.

The assembling-shops in connection with the railroad were built on a
commensurate scale. Even in an incomplete state one shop was able to
turn out twenty-odd freight-cars a day, of three different designs, and
at a neighboring point a plant for assembling the all-steel cars was
making one full train a day. The locomotives were assembled in still a
third place. This will have turned out 1,100 locomotives, built and
shipped flat from America, at the end of its present contract. Already a
third of this work has been done.

And there were, of course, the necessary number of roundhouses, and the
like, to complete the organization of the self-sufficient railroad.

Not far away was a tremendous assembling and repair plant for airplanes,
the operators of which had all been trained in the French factories, so
that they knew the planes to the last inner bolthead.

The last assembly-plant was far from least in picturesqueness. It was
for the construction, from numbered pieces shipped from Switzerland,
of 3,500 wooden barracks, each about 100 feet long by 20 wide, and of
double thickness for protection against French weather.

[Illustration: _Copyright by the Committee on Public Information._

U. S. locomotive-assembling yards in France.]

The most amusing of the incidental depots was called the Reclamation
Depot, at which the numerous articles collected on the battle-field by
special salvage units were overhauled and refurbished, or altered to
other uses. Nothing was too trifling to be accepted. The "old-clo' man"
of No Man's Land was responsible for an amazing amount of good material,
made at the Reclamation Depot from old belts, coat sleeves, and the
like. Many a good German helmet went back to the "square-heads" as
American bullets.

In the same American district there was a great artillery camp, with
remount stables, containing thousands of horses and mules. Under French
tutelage, the American veterinarians had learned to extract the bray
from the army mule, reducing his far-carrying silvery cry to a mere
wheeze, with which he could do no indiscreet informing of his presence
near the battle-lines. So the mule-hospital was one of the busiest spots
in the port.

A short distance from the port, the engineers built a 20,000-bed
hospital, the largest in existence, comprising hundreds of little
one-story structures, set in squares over huge grounds, so that every
room faced the out-of-doors.

Between the port and the hospital, and beyond the port along the coast,
were the rest-camps, the receiving-camps, and a huge separate camp for
the negro stevedores. Near enough to be convenient, but not for
sociability, were the camps for the German prisoners, who put in plenty
of hard licks in the great port-building.

Midway between all this activity at the coast and the training and
fighting activity at the fighting-line there was what figured on the
army charts as "Intermediate Section," whose commanders were responsible
for the daily averaging of supply and demand.

In the intermediate section, linked by rail, were the supplementary
training-camps, schools, base hospitals, rest-areas, engineering and
repair shops, tank-assembling plants, ordnance-dumps and repair-shops,
the chief storage for "spare parts," all machinery used in the army,
cold-storage plants, oil and petrol depots, the army bakeries, the
camouflage centre, and the forestry departments, busy with fuel for the
army and timber for the engineers.

The achievement of the first year was literally worthy of the unstinted
praise it received. And perhaps its finest attribute was that most of it
was permanent, and will remain, while France remains, as America's
supreme gift toward her post-war recovery.



CHAPTER XIV

FRANCE AND THE MEDICOES


The history of the A. E. F. will be in most respects the history of
resources cunningly turned to new ends, of force redirected, with some
of its erstwhile uses retained, and of a colossal adventure in making
things do. Where the artillery was weak, the A. E. F. eked out with the
coast-artillery. Where the engineer corps was insufficient, the
railroads were called on for special units, frankly unmilitary. A whole
citizenry was abruptly turned to infantry. But one branch of the
service, though scarcely worthy of much responsibility when the war
began, was, nevertheless, the one most thoroughly prepared. The prize
service was the Medical Corps, and it was in this state of astonishing
preparedness because immediately before it became the Medical Corps, it
had been the Red Cross, and the Red Cross knows no peace-times.

The question of what is Medical Corps and what is Red Cross has always
been a facer for the superficial historian.

Broadly speaking, the base hospitals of the army are organizations
recruited and equipped in America by the Red Cross, and transported to
France, where they become units of the army, under army discipline and
direction, and supplied by the Medical Corps stores except in cases
where these are inadvertently lacking, or unprovided for by the
strictness of military supervision. In any case, where sufficient
supplies are not forthcoming from the Medical Corps, they are given by
the Red Cross.

This is the Red Cross on its military side. In its civilian work, which
is extensive, and in its recreational work it carries on under its own
name and by its own authority. Where it divides territory with the Y. M.
C. A., the division is that the Y. M. C. A. takes the well soldier and
the Red Cross the sick one, whenever either has time on his hands.

But the Medical Corps plus the Red Cross created between them a branch
of the American Army in France which, from the moment of landing, was
the boast of the nation.

For a year before America entered the war Colonel Jefferson Kean,
director-general of the military department of the American Red Cross,
had been organizing against the coming of American participation. Within
thirty days after America's war declaration Colonel Kean announced that
he had six base hospitals in readiness to go to the front, and within
another thirty days these six units were on their way, equipped and
ready to step into the French hospitals, schools, and what-not, waiting
to receive them, and to do business as usual the following morning.

The six were organized at leading hospitals and medical schools: the
Presbyterian Hospital of New York, with Doctor George E. Brewer in
command; the Lakeside Hospital, Cleveland, with Doctor George W. Crile;
the Medical School of Harvard University, with Doctor Harvey Cushing;
the Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, with Doctor Richard Harte; the
Medical School of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, with
Doctor Frederick Besley, and Washington University Hospital, Saint
Louis, with Doctor Frederick T. Murphy.

A little while later the Postgraduate unit went from New York, the
Roosevelt Hospital unit from there, and the Johns Hopkins unit from
Baltimore. Many others followed in due time.

These hospital units, recruited and organized under the Red Cross, took
their full complement of surgeons, physicians, and nurses. All these
became members of the army as soon as they landed in France, and they
were supplemented, either there or before they crossed, with members of
Medical Corps, enlisted just after America entered the war.

The military rank of the physicians and surgeons conformed in a general
way to the unofficial rank of the same men when they had worked together
in the hospitals from which they came. There were, of course, some
exceptions to this rule, but not enough to make it no rule at all.

It was true of the medicoes, as it was of the engineers, that they took
military discipline none too seriously, because they brought a
discipline of their own. Wherever, in civilian pursuits, the lives of
others hang on prompt obedience, there is a strictness which no
military strictness can outdo. This was true of the personnel of any
hospital in America, before there was thought of war. It was equally
true, of course, after the units were established behind the
fighting-lines. But there was a certain lack of prompt salute and a
certain freedom with first names which not the stoutest management from
the military arm of the service could obliterate from the base
hospitals. The Medical Corps enlisted men were naturally not sinners in
this respect. The routine work of the base hospitals all fell to them.
It was usually a sergeant of the army--though he was never a
veteran--who attended the reception-rooms, kept account of symptoms,
clothes, and first and second names, and did the work of orderly in the
hospital. It was the privates who kept the mess and washed the dishes
and changed the sheets.

The nurses went under military discipline and into military
segregation--sometimes a little nettlesome, when the hospitals were far
from companionship of any outside sort.

The sites selected for the hospitals were either French hospitals which
were given over, or schools or big public buildings remade into
hospitals by the engineers. Each site was arranged so that it could be
enlarged at will. And the railways which connected the outlying
hospitals with the rest of the American communications were laid so that
other hospitals could be easily placed along their line. There was a
splendid elasticity in the Medical Corps plan.

One base hospital was much like another, except for size. Those near the
line differed somewhat from those farther back, but their scheme was
uniform. At any rate, the history of their doings was similar enough to
have one history do for them all. Take, for example, one of the New York
units which landed in August and was placed nearer the coast than the
fighting. It was put in trim by the engineers, then sanitated by the
humbler members of the Medical Corps. The great wards were laid out, the
kitchens were built, windows were pried open--always the first American
job in France, to the great disgust and alarm of the French--and baths
were put in.

The chief surgeon had specialized in noses and throats at home. When the
hospital was ready, naturally the soldiers were not in need of it--being
still in training in the Vosges--so the services of the hospital were
opened to the civilian population of France.

By November there was not an adenoid in all those parts. The death-rate
almost vanished. Into this rural France, where there had been no
hospital and only a nursing home kept by some Sisters of Mercy who saw
their first surgical operation within the base hospital, there came this
skilful organization, handled by men whose incomes at home had been
measured in five figures, and all the healing they had was free.

Multiply this by twenty, and then by thirty, before the pressing need
for care for soldiers directed the Medical Corps back to first channels,
and there will be some gauge of what this service did for France.

And the gratitude of France was more than commensurate. Praise of the
American Medical Service flowed unceasingly from officials and
civilians, statesmen and journalists. There were constant demands made
upon the French Government that it should pattern its own medical forces
exactly upon the American, making it the branch of the medical
specialist and not of the politician or the military man.

The individual officers of the Medical Corps had much to learn, however,
from the French and the British. Though they knew hygiene, prophylaxis,
antisepsis, and surgery as few groups of men have ever known it, they
became scholars of the humblest in the surgery of the battle-field.
Every officer of the Medical Corps was kept on a round of visits behind
French and British fronts during the fairly peaceful interim between
their landing and the American occupation of a front-line sector.

The Red Cross was the great auxiliary of the Medical Corps. It kept up
its recruiting in America, both for nurses and physicians, and for
supplies.

And in supplies it played its greatest part. The Red Cross maintained
enormous warehouses, separate entirely from army control, which
contained provisions to meet every possible shortage. It was known by
the Red Cross that never in the history of the world had there been a
medical corps of any army that had not finally broken down. No matter
how painstaking the provision, the need was always tragically greater.

And so surgical dressings, sets of surgical instruments, medicines,
antiseptics, and anæsthetics piled up in the great A. R. C.
store-houses.

Then there were the things for which the Medical Corps frankly made no
provision, which could have no place in a strictly military programme,
such as food delicacies of great cost, special articles of clothing, and
amusements. Every hospital convalescent ward had its phonograph, its
checker-boards, its chess-sets, and its dominoes. That was the Red
Cross.

[Illustration: Red Cross Hospital at Neuilly, formerly
the American Ambulance Hospital]

The Red Cross had three hospitals of its own in Paris. The first of
these was at Neuilly, the hospital which had been the American Ambulance
Hospital from the beginning of the war, given over on the third
anniversary of its inauguration. Here French and American soldiers,
American civilians who worked with the army, and Red Cross officers
and men were cared for. The second had been Doctor Blake's Hospital, and
when it became a Red Cross hospital, it was made to include the gigantic
laboratory where investigations were made, and where the American Red
Cross had the honor to ferret out the cause of trench-fever. This fever
had been one of the baffling tragedies of the war, because in the press
of caring for their wounded, other hospitals had been unable to give it
sufficient research.

The third was the Reid Hospital, equipped and supplied by Mrs. Whitelaw
Reid.

In the long period when all this hospital organization was at the
command of civilian France, inestimably fine work was done. It was a
sort of poetic tuition fee for the instruction in war surgery which was
meanwhile going on from veteran French surgeons to the American
newcomers. At the end of the first year, the Medical Corps was itself
ready for any stress, and it had mightily relieved the stress it had
already found.



CHAPTER XV

IN CHARGE OF MORALE


If the army as a whole was a story of old skill in new uses, certainly
the most extraordinary single upheaval was that of the Y. M. C. A.
Though it had grown into many paths of civil life, in peace-times, that
could not have been foreshadowed by its founders, probably the wildest
speculation of its future never included the purveying of vaudeville and
cigarettes to soldiers in France.

Yet just that was what the Y. M. C. A. was doing, within less than a
year from the American Army's arrival in France, and its only
lamentation was that it had nowhere near enough cigarettes and
vaudeville to purvey.

It accepted the offer of the United States Government to watch over the
morale of the soldiers abroad, partly because it was so excellently
organized that it could handle a task of such vast scope, and partly
because both French and British Armies had got such fine results from
similar organizations that the American Y. M. C. A. felt itself to be
historically elected.

The Y. M. C. A. had cut its wisdom-teeth long before it became a part of
the army. Its directors had accepted the fact that a young man is apt to
be more interested in his biceps than in his soul, and that if he can
have athletics aplenty, and entertainment that really entertains, he'd
as lief be out of mischief as in it.

But even this was not quite broad enough for the needs of the army away
from home. And one of the first things the Y. M. C. A. did in France,
and the stoutest pillar of its great success, was to abandon the
slightest aversion to bad language, or to the irreligion that brims out
of a cold, wet, and tired soldier in defiant spurts, and to cultivate,
in their stead, a sympathetic feeling for the want of smokes and a good
show.

The secretaries sent abroad to build the first huts and watch over the
first soldiers were men selected for their skill in getting results
against considerable obstacles. Those who followed, as the organization
grew, were specialists of every sort. There were nationally famous
sportsmen, to keep the baseball games up to scratch, and to see that
gymnastics out-of-doors were helped out by the rules. There were men who
could handle crowds, keep an evening's entertainment going, play good
ragtime, make good coffee, and produce cigarettes and matches out of
thin air.

And, most important of all, they were men who could eradicate the
doughboy's suspicion that the Y. M. C. A. was a doleful, overly
prayerful, and effeminate institution.

The Y. M. C. A. was dealing with the doughboy when he was on his own
time. If he didn't want to go to the "Y" hut, nobody could make him.
Certain things that were bad for him were barred to him by army
regulation. But there was a margin left over. If the doughboy was doing
nothing else, he might be sitting alone somewhere, feeling of his
feelings, and finding them very sad. The army did not cover this, but
the Y. M. C. A. took the ground that being melancholy was about as bad
as being drunk.

But, naturally, the Red Triangle man had to use his tact. If he didn't
have any, he was sent home. His job was to persuade the doughboy, not
to instruct him. And before long, the rule of the Y. M. C. A. was flatly
put: "Never mind your own theories--do what the soldiers want."

That is why the "Y" huts--the combination shop, theatre, chapel, and
reading-room, coffee-stall and soda fountain, baseball-locker and
cigarette store, post-office and library which are run by the Y. M. C.
A. from coast to battle-line--are packed by soldiers every hour of the
day and evening.

The "Y" huts began with the army. Before the second day of the First
Division's landing, there was a circus banner across the foot of the
main street stating: "This is the way to the Y. M. C. A. Get your money
changed, and write home." By following the pointing red finger painted
on the banner, one found a wooden shack, with a few chairs, a lot of
writing-paper and French money, a secretary and a heap of good-will.

As the army moved battleward, these huts appeared just ahead of the
soldiers, with increased stores at each new place. American cigarettes
were on the counters. A few books arrived.

The Y. M. C. A. proved its persuasiveness by its huts. A member of the
quartermasters' corps said, one day, in a fit of exasperation over a
waiting job: "How do these 'Y' fellows do it--I can't turn without
falling over a shack, built for them by the soldiers in their off time.
Do I get any work out of these soldiers when they're off? I do not.
They're too busy building 'Y' huts."

The first entertainment in the "Y" huts was when the company bands moved
into them because the weather was too bad to play out-of-doors. The
concerts were a great success. By and by, men who knew something
interesting were asked to make short lectures to the soldiers. It was an
easy step to asking some clever professional entertainer to come down
and give a one-man show. Then Elsie Janis, who was in Europe, made a
flying tour of the "Y" huts, and a little while after, E. H. Sothern and
Winthrop Ames went over to see how much organized entertainment could be
sent from America.

The result of their visit was The Over-There Theatre League, to which
virtually every actor and actress in America volunteered to belong. By
the end of the first year, about 300 entertainers were either in France
or on their way there or back.

Three months was the average time the performers were asked to give, and
they circled so steadily that there were always about 200 of them at
work on the "Y" circuit.

The work of the Y. M. C. A. did not stop with affording entertainment to
the soldiers in the camps. They rented a big hotel in Paris and another
in London, and they established many canteens in these two cities, so
that their patrols--secretaries whose job was to rescue stray, lonely
soldiers in the streets--would always have a near and comfortable place
to offer to the wanderers.

Then they preceded the army to Aix-les-Bains and Chambery, the two
resorts in the Savoy Alps where American soldiers were sent for their
eight-day leaves, and arranged for cheap hotel accommodations, guides,
theatres, etc., and they took over the Casino entirely for the soldiers.

Their field canteens were just back of the fighting-line, and late at
night it was the duty of the secretaries to store their pockets with
cigarettes and chocolate and with letters from home, and shoulder the
big tins of hot coffee made in the canteens and go into the front-line
trenches to serve the men there. In fact, the "Y" men did everything
with the army except go over the top.

The largest part of work of this type fell to the Y. M. C. A. because
they had the most flexible organization ready at the beginning of
American participation. But they had substantial help, which as time
went on grew more and more in volume, from several other associations.
The Knights of Columbus and the Salvation Army both did magnificent
service, in canteens and trenches. And of course the Red Cross took over
the sick soldier and entertained and supplied him, as a part of their
co-army work.

There was one branch of the Red Cross which perhaps did more than any
other one thing to keep up the hearts and spirits of the soldiers--it
was called the Department of Home Communications, and it was directed by
Henry Allen, a Wichita, Kansas, newspaper man.

Mr. Allen believed that a soldier's letters did more for him than any
other one thing, and that, failing letters, he must at least have
reliable news of his home folks from time to time. Further, that every
soldier was easier in his mind if he knew that his home folks would have
news of him, fully and authentically, no matter what happened to him.

So Mr. Allen posted his representatives in every hospital, in every
trench sector, and through them kept track of every soldier. If a man
was taken prisoner Mr. Allen knew it. If he was wounded Mr. Allen knew
just where and how. The man's family was told of it immediately.
Presently, where this was possible, Mr. Allen's representative was
writing letters from the wounded men to their relatives, and was
receiving all Mr. Allen's news of these relatives for the men in the
hospital.

In addition to things of this kind, done by Red Triangle men, Red Cross
men, and the Salvation Army and the Knights of Columbus, all these
organizations worked together to effect distributions of comfort kits
and sweaters, gift cigarettes and chocolate, and all the dozen and one
things that made the soldiers find life a little more agreeable.

There was more than co-operation from the army itself. There was the
deepest gratitude, openly expressed, from every member of the army,
whether general or private, because it was a recognized fact that,
though an army cannot do these things itself, it owes them more than it
can ever repay.



CHAPTER XVI

INTO THE TRENCHES


After months of training behind the lines the doughboys began to long
for commencement. It came late in October. The point selected for the
trench test of the Americans was in a quiet sector. The position lay
about twelve miles due east from Nancy and five miles north of
Lunéville. It extended roughly from Parroy to Saint-Die. Even after the
entry of the Americans the sector remained under French command. In
fact, the four battalions of our troops which made up the first American
contingent on the fighting-line were backed up by French reserves. No
better training sector could have been selected, for this was a quiet
front. American officers who acted as observers along this line for
several days before the doughboys went in found that shelling was
restricted and raids few. Many villages close behind the lines on either
side were respected because of a tacit agreement between the contending
armies. French and Germans sent war-weary troops to the Lunéville sector
to rest up. It also served to break in new troops without subjecting
them to an oversevere ordeal, so that they might learn the tricks of
modern warfare gradually.

Of course, even quiet sectors may become suddenly active, and care was
taken to screen the movements of the soldiers carefully. It proved
impossible, however, to keep the move a complete mystery, for when
camion after camion of tin-hatted Americans moved away from the training
area the villagers could not fail to suspect that something was about to
happen. Perhaps these suspicions grew stronger when each group of
fighting men sang loudly and cheerfully that they were "going to hang
the Kaiser to a sour apple-tree."

The weather was distinctly favorable for the movement of troops. One of
the blackest nights of the month awaited the Americans at the front.
Rain fell, but not hard enough to impede transportation. Still, such
weather was something of a moral handicap. Many of the newcomers would
have been glad to take a little shelling if they could have had a bit
of a moon or a few stars to light their way to the trenches. Instead
they groped their way along roads which were soft enough to deaden every
sound. A wind moaned lightly overhead and the strict command of silence
made it impossible to seek the proper antidote of song. One or two men
struck up "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching," as they headed
for the front, but they were quickly silenced.

The march began about nine o'clock, after the soldiers had eaten
heartily in a little village close to the lines. At the very edge of
this village stood a cheerful inn and a moving-picture theatre. The
doughboys looked a little longingly at both houses of diversion before
they swung round the bend and followed the black road which led to the
trench-line. The people of the village did not seem to be much excited
by the fact that history was being made before their eyes. They had seen
so many troops go by up that road that they could achieve no more than a
friendly interest. They did not crowd close about the marchers as the
people had done in Paris.

Seemingly the Germans had not been able to ascertain the time set for
the coming of the Americans. The roads were not shelled at all. In fact,
the German batteries were even more indolent than usual at this point.
The relief was effected without incident, although a few stories drifted
back about enthusiastic poilus who had greeted their new comrades with
kisses.

The artillery beat the infantry into action. They had to have a start in
order to get their guns into place, and some fifteen hours before the
doughboys went into the trenches America had fired the first shot of the
war against Germany. Alexander Arch, a sergeant from South Bend,
Indiana, was the man who pulled the lanyard. The shot was a shrapnel
shell and was directed at a German working-party who were presuming on
the immunity offered by a misty dawn. They scattered at the first shot,
but it was impossible to tell whether it caused any casualties. When the
working-party took cover there were no targets which demanded immediate
attention, and the various members of the gun crew were allowed the
privilege of firing the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh,
eighth, and ninth shots of the war. After that, shooting at the Germans
ceased to become a historical occasion, but was a mere incident in the
routine of duty, and was treated as such.

The only unusual incident which seriously threatened the peace of mind
of the infantrymen in their first night in the trenches was the flash of
a green rocket which occurred some fifteen or twenty minutes after they
arrived. They had been taught that a green rocket would be the alarm for
a gas attack, but this particular signal came from the German trenches
and had no message for the Americans. The Germans may have suspected the
presence of new troops, for the men were just a bit jumpy, as all
newcomers to the trenches are, and a few took pot-shots at objects out
in No Man's Land which proved to be only stakes in the barbed wire or
tufts of waving grass.

Although the Germans made the first successful raid, the Americans took
the first prisoner. He was captured only a few nights after the coming
of the doughboys. A patrol picked him up close to the American wire. He
was a mail-carrier, and in cutting across lots to reach some of his
comrades he lost his way and wandered over to the American lines.
Although he was surprised, he was not willing to surrender, but made an
attempt to escape after he had been ordered to halt. One of the
doughboys fired at him as he ran and he was carried into the American
trenches badly wounded. He died the next day.

Beginning on the night of November 2 and extending over into the early
morning of November 3, the Germans made a successful raid against the
American lines immediately after a relief. After a severe preliminary
bombardment a large party of raiders came across. The bombardment had
cut the telephone wires of the little group of Americans which met the
attack and they were completely isolated. They fought bravely but
greenly. Three Americans were killed, five were wounded, and twelve were
captured. The Germans retired quickly with their prisoners.

American morale was not injured by this first jab of the Germans. On the
other hand, it made the doughboys mad, and, better than that, made them
careful. A German attempt to repeat the raid a few nights later was
repulsed. The three men who were killed in this first clash were buried
close to the lines, while minute-guns fired shells over the graveyard
toward the Germans. General Bordeaux, who commanded the French division
at this point, saluted before each of the three graves, and then turned
to the officers and men drawn up before him and said:

"In the name of the division, in the name of the French Army, and in the
name of France, I bid farewell to Private Enright, Private Gresham, and
Private Hay of the American Army.

"Of their own free will they had left a prosperous and happy country to
come over here. They knew war was continuing in Europe; they knew that
the forces fighting for honor, love of justice and civilization were
still checked by the long-prepared forces serving the powers of brutal
domination, oppression, and barbarity. They knew that efforts were still
necessary. They wished to give us their generous hearts, and they have
not forgotten old historical memories while others forget more recent
ones. They ignored nothing of the circumstances and nothing had been
concealed from them--neither the length and hardships of war, nor the
violence of battle, nor the dreadfulness of new weapons, nor the perfidy
of the foe.

"Nothing stopped them. They accepted the hard and strenuous life; they
crossed the ocean at great peril; they took their places on the front by
our side, and they have fallen facing the foe in a hard and desperate
hand-to-hand fight. Honor to them. Their families, friends, and fellow
citizens will be proud when they learn of their deaths.

"Men! These graves, the first to be dug in our national soil and but a
short distance from the enemy, are as a mark of the mighty land we and
our allies firmly cling to in the common task, confirming the will of
the people and the army of the United States to fight with us to a
finish, ready to sacrifice so long as is necessary until victory for the
most noble of causes, that of the liberty of nations, the weak as well
as the mighty. Thus the deaths of these humble soldiers appear to us
with extraordinary grandeur.

"We will, therefore, ask that the mortal remains of these young men be
left here, be left with us forever. We inscribe on the tombs: 'Here lie
the first soldiers of the Republic of the United States to fall on the
soil of France for liberty and justice.' The passer-by will stop and
uncover his head. Travellers and men of heart will go out of their way
to come here to pay their respective tributes.

"Private Enright! Private Gresham! Private Hay! In the name of France I
thank you. God receive your souls. Farewell!"

After the Germans had identified Americans on the Lunéville front it was
supposed that they might maintain an aggressive policy and make the
front an active one. The Germans were too crafty for that. They realized
that the Americans were in the line for training, and so they gave them
few opportunities to learn anything in the school of experience. In
spite of the lack of co-operation by the Germans, the doughboys gained
valuable knowledge during their stay in the trenches. There were several
spirited patrol encounters and much sniping. American aviators got a
taste of warfare by going on some of the bombing expeditions of the
French. They went as passengers, but one American at least was able to
pay for his passage by crawling out from his seat and releasing a bomb
which had become jammed. When every battalion had been in the trenches
the American division was withdrawn, and for a short time in the winter
of 1917 there was no American infantry at the front.

Curiously enough, the honor of participation in a major engagement
hopped over the infantry and came first to the engineers. It came quite
by accident. The 11th Engineers had been detailed for work behind the
British front. Early on the morning of November 30 four officers and 280
men went to Gouzeaucourt, a village fully three miles back of the line.
But this was the particular day the Germans had chosen for a surprise
attack. The engineers had hardly begun work before the Germans laid a
barrage upon the village, and almost before the Americans realized what
was happening German infantry entered the outskirts of the place while
low-flying German planes peppered our men with machine-gun fire. The
engineers were unarmed, but they picked up what weapons they could find
and used shovels and fists as well as they retired before the German
attack. According to the stories of the men, one soldier knocked two
Germans down with a pickaxe before they could make a successful bayonet
thrust. He was eventually wounded but did not fall into the hands of the
enemy. Seventeen of the engineers were captured, but the rest managed to
fight their way out or take shelter in shell-holes, where they lay until
a slight advance by the British rescued them.

Having had a taste of fighting, the engineers were by no means disposed
to have done with it. The entire regiment, including the survivors of
Gouzeaucourt, were ordered first to dig trenches and then to occupy
them. This time they were armed with rifles as well as intrenching-tools.
They held the line until reinforcements arrived.

The conduct of the engineers was made the subject of a communication
from Field-Marshal Haig to General Pershing. "I desire to express to you
my thanks and those of the British engaged for the prompt and valuable
assistance rendered," wrote the British commander, "and I trust that
you will be good enough to convey to these gallant men how much we all
appreciate their prompt and soldierly readiness to assist in what was
for a time a difficult situation."



CHAPTER XVII

OUR OWN SECTOR


THE Lunéville sector was merely a sort of postgraduate school of
warfare, but shortly after the beginning of 1918 the American Army took
over a part of the line for its very own. This sector was gradually
enlarged. By the middle of April the Americans were holding more than
twenty miles. The sector lay due north of Toul and extended very roughly
from Saint-Mihiel to Pont-à-Mousson. Later other sections of front were
given over to the Americans at various points on the Allied line.
Perhaps there was not quite the same thrill in the march to the Toul
sector as in the earlier movement to the trenches of the Lunéville line.
After all, even the limited service which the men had received gave them
something of the spirit of veterans. Then, too, the movement was less of
an adventure. Motor-trucks were few and most of the men marched all the
way over roads that were icy. The troops stood up splendidly under the
marching test and under the rigorous conditions of housing which were
necessary on the march. They had learned to take the weather of France
in the same easy, inconsequential way they took the language.

For a second time the German spy system fell a good deal short of its
reputed omniscience. Seemingly, the enemy was not forewarned of the
coming of the Americans. Despite the fact that the troops were tired
from their long march, the relief was carried out without a hitch. Toul
had been regarded as a comparatively quiet sector, and, while it never
did blaze up into major actions during the early months of 1918, it was
hardly a rest-camp. It was, as the phrase goes, "locally active." Few
parts of the front were enlivened with as many raids and minor thrusts,
and No Man's Land was the scene of constant patrol encounters, which
lost nothing in spirit, even if they bulked small in size and
importance.

It is probable that the Germans had no ambitious offensive plans in
regard to the Toul sector. They tried, however, to keep the Americans at
that point so busy and so harassed that it would be impossible for
Pershing to send men to help stem the drives against the French and the
English. The failure of this plan will be shown in the later chapters.

Before going on to take up in some detail the life of the men in the
Toul sector, it is necessary to record a casualty suffered by
Major-General Leonard Wood. While inspecting the French lines General
Wood was wounded in the arm when a French gun exploded. Five French
soldiers were killed and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles E. Kilbourne and
Major Kenyon A. Joyce, who accompanied General Wood, were slightly
wounded. Wood returned to America shortly after the accident, and did
not have the privilege of coming back to France with the division he had
trained. But for all that he had a unique distinction. Leonard Wood was
the first American major-general to earn the right to a wounded stripe.

The German artillery was active along the Toul front and the percentage
of losses, while small, was higher than it had been in the Lunéville
trenches. Of course, the American artillery was not inactive. It had a
deal of practice during the early days of February. The Germans
attempted to ambush a patrol on the 19th and failed, and on the next
night a sizable raid broke down under a barrage which was promptly
furnished by the American batteries in response to signals from the
trench which the Germans were attempting to isolate.

The first job for America did not come on the Toul sector, but near the
Chemin-des-Dames. American artillery had already shown proficiency in
this sector by laying down a barrage for the French, who took a small
height near Tahure. Hilaire Belloc referred to this action as "small in
extent but of high historical importance." The importance consisted in
the fact that for the first time American artillerymen had an
opportunity of rolling a barrage ahead of an attacking force. They
showed their ability to solve the rather difficult timing problems
involved. Certain historical importance, then, must be given to the
action of February 23, when an American raiding-party in conjunction
with the French penetrated a few hundred yards into the German lines and
captured two German officers, twenty men, and a machine-gun. This
little action should not be forgotten, because it was practically the
first success of the Americans. It gave some indication of the efficient
help which Pershing's men were to give later on in Foch's great
counter-attack which drove the Germans across the Marne.

It is interesting to know that every man in the American battalion
stationed on the Chemin-des-Dames volunteered for the raid. Of this
number only twenty-six were picked. There were approximately three times
as many French in the party, and it must be remembered that the affair
was strictly a French "show." The raid was carefully planned and
rehearsals were held back of the line, over country similar to that
which the Americans would cross in the raid. At 5.30 in the morning the
barrage began and it continued for an hour with guns of many calibres
having their say. The attack was timed almost identically with the
relief in the German trenches and the Boches were caught unawares. The
fact that a shell made a direct hit on a big dugout did not tend to
improve German morale. The little party of Americans had already cut
2,999 miles and some yards from the distance which separated their
country from the war, and they were anxious to cover the remaining
distance. Their French companions set them the example of not running
into their own barrage. Poilus and doughboys jumped into the enemy
trench together. There was a little sharp hand-to-hand fighting, but not
a great deal, as the German officers ordered their men to give ground.
The group of prisoners were captured almost in a body. Further
researches along communicating trenches and into dugouts failed to yield
any more.

Attackers and prisoners started back for their own lines on schedule
time. The German artillery tried to cut them off. One shell wounded five
of the Germans and six Frenchmen, but the American contingent was
fortunate enough to escape without a single casualty. The French
expressed themselves as well pleased with the conduct of their pupils.
They said that the Americans had approached the barrage too closely once
or twice, but this was not remarkable, as it was the first time American
infantry had advanced behind a screen of shell fire. Their inexperience
also excused their tendency to go a little too far after the German
trench-line had been reached.

On February 26 the Americans on the Toul front had their first
experience with a serious gas attack. Of course, gas-shells had been
thrown at them before, but this was the first time they had been
subjected to a steady bombardment. Some of the men were not sufficiently
cautious. A few were slow in getting their masks on and others took
theirs off too soon. The result was that five men were killed and fifty
or sixty injured by the gas. Two days later the Americans on the
Chemin-des-Dames were heavily attacked, but the Germans were driven off.

March found the Toul sector receiving more attention than usual from the
Germans. The Germans made a strong thrust on the morning of March 1. The
raid was a failure, as three German prisoners remained in American hands
and many Germans were killed. Gas did not prove as effective as on the
last occasion. The doughboys were quick to put on their masks and as
soon as the bombardment ended they waited for the attacking-party and
swept them with machine-guns. About 240 Germans participated in the
attack. Some succeeded in entering the American first-line trench, but
they were expelled after a little sharp fighting. An American captain
who tried to cut off the German retreat by waylaying the raiders as they
started back for their own lines was killed. On the same day a raid
against the Chemin-des-Dames position failed. The Germans left four
prisoners.

Two days after the attempted Toul raid Premier Clemenceau visited the
American sector and awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm to two
lieutenants, two sergeants, and two privates. The premier, who knows
American inhibitions just as well as he knows the language, departed a
little from established customs in awarding the medals. Nobody was
kissed. Instead Clemenceau patted the doughboys on the shoulder and
said: "That's the way to do it." One soldier was late in arriving, and
he seemed to be much afraid that this might cost him his cross, but the
premier handed it to him with a smile. "You were on time the other
morning," he said. "That's enough." In an official note Clemenceau
described the action of the Americans as follows: "It was a very fine
success, reflecting great honor on the tenacity of the American infantry
and the accuracy of the artillery fire."

The Americans made a number of raids during March, but the Germans were
holding their front lines loosely, and usually abandoned them when
attacked, which made it difficult to get prisoners. An incident which
stands out occurred on March 7, when a lone sentry succeeded in
repulsing a German patrol practically unaided. He was fortunate enough
to kill the only officer with his first shot. This took the heart out of
the Germans. The lone American was shooting so fast that they did not
realize he was a solitary defender, and they fled. On March 14 American
troops made their first territorial gain, but it can hardly be classed
as an offensive. Some enemy trenches northeast of Badonviller, in the
Lunéville sector, were abandoned by the Germans because they had been
pretty thoroughly smashed up by American artillery fire. These trenches
were consolidated with the American position.

April saw the first full-scale engagement in which American troops took
part at Seicheprey, but earlier in the month there was some spirited
fighting by Americans. Poilus and doughboys repelled an attack in the
Apremont Forest on April 12. The American elements of the defending
force took twenty-two prisoners. The German attack was renewed the next
day, but the Franco-American forces dislodged the Germans by a vigorous
counter-attack, after they had gained a foothold in the first-line
trenches. The biggest attack yet attempted on the Toul front occurred on
April 14. Picked troops from four German companies, numbering some 400
men, were sent forward to attack after an unusually heavy bombardment.
The Germans were known to have had 64 men killed, and 11 were taken
prisoner.

Numerous stories, more or less authentic, were circulated after this
engagement. One which is well vouched for concerns a young Italian who
met eight Germans in a communicating trench and killed one and captured
three. The remaining four found safety in flight. The youngster turned
his prisoners over to a sergeant and asked for a match. "I'll give you
a match if you'll bring me another German," said the non-commissioned
officer. The little Italian was a literal man and he wanted the match
very much. He went back over the parapet, and in five minutes he
returned escorting quite a large German, who was crying: "Kamerad."

While American soldiers on the front were gaining experience, which
stood them in good stead at Seicheprey and later at Cantigny, great
progress was made in the organization of the American forces. Late in
the spring the first field-army was formed. This army was composed of
two army corps each made up of one Regular Army division, one National
Army division, and one division of National Guard. Major-General Hunter
Liggett became the first field-army commander of the overseas forces,
and it was his men who covered themselves with so much distinction in
the great counter-blows of July.



CHAPTER XVIII

A CIVILIAN VISITOR


Destiny always plays the flying wedge. There is always the significant
little happening, half noticed or miscalculated, which trails great
happenings after it. On March 19, 1918, a derby hat appeared in the
front-line trenches held by the American Army in France. This promptly
was accorded the honor by the army and the Allied representatives of
being the first derby hat that had ever been seen in a trench. The hat
had the honor to be on the head of the first American Secretary of War
who had ever been in Europe in his term of office. And this first
American Secretary of War away from home was presently to have the honor
of helping to create the first generalissimo who had ever commanded an
army of twenty-six allies.

All of which is to say that Newton D. Baker, on a tour of inspection of
the A. E. F., whose visit was to have such terrific fruition,
repudiated the war counsels which would have kept him out of the
trenches on this gusty March day, and went down to see for himself and
all the Americans at home how the doughboy was faring, and what could be
done for him.

And as he peered over the parapet into No Man's Land, Secretary Baker
said: "I am standing on the frontier of freedom." The phrase grew its
wings in the saying, and by nightfall it had found the farthest
doughboy.

The Paris newspapers announced, on the morning of March 12, that
Secretary Baker was in France. The troops had it by noon. And questions
flew in swarms. It was discovered that he would review the brigade of
veterans who had returned from service at the front on March 20, and
that meanwhile he would investigate the lines of communication.

After a few days in Paris, during which Secretary Baker delivered all
the persuasions he had brought from President Wilson on behalf of a
unified command of the Allied armies, and had, it was rumored, turned
the scale in favor of a generalissimo, the distinguished civilian went
to the coast to see the port city which was the pride of the army and
the marvel of France.

The secretary rode to the coast on a French train, but, once there, he
was transferred to an American train, which had to make up in
sentimental importance the large lack it had of elegance.

A flat car was rapidly rigged up with plank benches. This had the merit
of affording plenty of view, and, after all, that was what the secretary
had come for.

After rolling over the main arteries of the 200 miles of terminal
trackage, Secretary Baker inspected the warehouses, assembling-plants,
camps, etc., and walked three mortal miles of dock front which his
countrymen had evolved from an oozing marsh. He paid his highest
compliments to the engineers and the laborers, and amazed the officers
by the acuteness of his questions. If his visit did nothing else, it
convinced the men on the job that the man back home knew what the
obstacles were.

Secretary Baker's next visit was to the biggest of the aviation-fields,
where again his technical understanding, as it came out in his
questions, astounded and cheered the men who were doing the building.

[Illustration: _Copyright by the Committee on Public Information_.

Secretary Baker riding on flat car during his tour of inspection of the
American Expeditionary Forces.]

Secretary Baker carried his office with him, a delightful discovery to
the men in the aviation-fields, who had some problems sorely pressing
for decision, and who found, when they told them to Mr. Baker, that he
had no aversion to taking action on the spot. For example, at aviation
headquarters, Mr. Baker asked if the fliers who came first from America
were the first to have their commissions after the final flights in
France. He learned that because of some delay in giving final
instruction, through no fault of the aviators, these first commissions
had not been given. Mr. Baker instituted a full inquiry at once, and at
the end of it directed that the commissions, when finally awarded,
should bear a date one day in advance of all others, so that the
priority rightfully earned should not be lost.

After hours in the field, during which hundreds of machines with
American pilots flew in squadron formation, and many experts did
spectacular single flights, Mr. Baker made a short speech to the fliers.
A French officer, who had been instructing at the field, said to Mr.
Baker: "With all these machines in the air, you see no more than a tenth
of what America has in this one school. You will soon have no more need
of French instruction. We have shown everything we know, and your young
men have taken to the art with astonishing facility, as well as
audacity, nerve, and resource. The danger and difficulties fascinate and
inspire them. I think it must be what you call the 'sporting spirit.'"

As he was leaving the aviation-field Secretary Baker said: "The spirit
of every man in this camp seems in keeping with the mission which
brought him to France. The camps, appointments, and organization are
admirable. It is gratifying to learn from their French instructors that
our young aviators are proving themselves daring, cool, and skilful."

On the night of March 18 Secretary Baker began his preparations for a
visit to the trenches. With a general commanding a division and one
other officer he motored to the farthest point, where he dined and
stayed the night in a French château. At dawn the next morning the
party made ready to go on. But the Boches appeared to have a hunch.
They shelled the road on which Secretary Baker had planned to travel
with such ferocity that the officers in command refused to take the risk
of permitting Mr. Baker to go over it. The American general and all the
French officers then begged Mr. Baker to give up the trip to the
trenches. They wasted a lot of persuasion. Mr. Baker just went by
another road. A colonel of about Mr. Baker's build had loaned him a
trench overcoat, and some rubber boots, and the secretary had a tin
helmet and a gas-mask, but he would wear the tin helmet only for a
moment, and the mask not at all.

The officers in charge of the party found presently, to their acute
horror, that even the trenches were not enough for Mr. Baker. Nothing
would do him but a listening-post. And when he had finally got back
safe, and had come back to the communication-trenches from the front,
everybody breathed a sigh of relief. The relief was premature, for the
liveliest danger of all was on the return motor trip, when an immense
shell buried itself in a crater not fifty yards from the secretary.
Fortunately, the débris flew all in the opposite direction, and nobody
was hurt.

The First Division heard an address the following day from Secretary
Baker. "It would seem more fit," he said, "and I should much prefer it,
if, instead of addressing you, I should listen to your experiences. Your
division has the distinction of being the first to arrive in France. May
every man in your ranks aim to make the First Division the first in
accomplishment. With you came a body of the marines, those
well-disciplined, ship-shape soldiers of the navy.

"Yours was the first experience in being billeted, and in all the
initial details of adjusting yourselves to new and strange conditions.
In this, as in developing a system of training, you were the pioneers,
blazing the way, while succeeding contingents could profit by your
mistakes.

"Day after day and week after week you had to continue the hard drudgery
of instruction which is necessary to proficiency in modern war. You had
to restrain your impatience to go into the trenches under General
Pershing's wise demand for that thoroughness, the value of which you now
appreciate as a result of actual service in the trenches.

"If sometimes the discipline seemed wearing, you now know you would have
paid for its absence with your lives.

"If I had any advice to give, it is to strike hard and shoot straight,
and I would warn you at the same time against any carelessness, any
surrendering to curiosity, which would make you a mark needlessly. The
better you are trained the more valuable is your life to your country,
as a fighter who seeks to make the soldier of the enemy, rather than
yourself, pay the supreme price of war.

"On every hand I am told that you are prepared to fight 'to the end,'
and I see this spirit in your faces. Depend upon us at home to stand by
you in a spirit worthy of you."

Next Secretary Baker spoke, though informally, to the Forty-second
Division, far better known as the Rainbow Division. There he explained
some of the reasons for military secrecy.

"While it was in training at home I saw a good deal of the Rainbow
Division," he said "Then, one day, it was gone to France, where it
disappeared behind the curtain of military secrecy which must be drawn
unless we choose to sacrifice the lives of our men for the sake of
publicity. The enemy's elaborate intelligence system seeks at any cost
to learn the strength, the preparedness, and the character of our
troops. Our own intelligence service assures us that the knowledge of
our army in France which some assume to exist does not, in fact, exist.

"If we were to announce the identity of each unit that comes to France,
then we would fully inform the enemy of the number and nature of our
forces. Published details about any division are most useful to expert
military intelligence officers in determining the state of the
division's preparedness, and the probable assignment of the division to
any section.

"But now it is safe to mention certain divisions which were first to
arrive in France and have already been in the line. This includes the
Rainbow Division, famous because it is representative of all parts of
the United States. This division should find in its character an
inspiration to _esprit de corps_ and general excellence. It should be
conscious of its mission as a symbol of national unity.

"The men of Ohio I know as Ohioans, and I am proud that they have been
worthy of Ohio. A citizen of another State will find himself equally at
home in some other group, and the gauge of this State's pride will be
the discipline of that group of soldiers, its conduct as men, its
courage, and its skill in the trenches. You may learn more than war in
France. You may learn lessons from France, whose unity and courage have
been a bulwark against that sinister force whose character you are
learning in the trenches. The Frenchman is, first of all, a Frenchman,
which stimulates, rather than weakens, his pride in Brittany as a
Breton, in Lorraine as a Lorrainer, and his loyalty and affection for
his own town, or village, or home. In truth he fights for his family and
his home when he fights for France and civilization. Thus, you will
fight best and serve best by being first an American, with no diminution
of your loyalty to your State and your community.

"With us at home the development of a new national unity seems a vague
process compared to the concrete process you are undergoing. You are
uniting North, East, South, and West in action. We aim to support you
with all our resources, to make sure that you do not fight in vain."

The brigade of the veterans was reviewed on the last day of the camp
inspection.

Secretary Baker went by motor, with officers and aides, as far as the
foot of the hill from which he was to review the troops deploying in the
Marne valley. Twenty days of rain had made the hilltop inaccessible by
motor. As Secretary Baker started up one slope, General Pershing and his
aides ascended another, and the two men met at the top.

The brigade swept by at company front, with full marching equipment.
They were the first brigade to be reviewed after it had been in action,
and they held to their flawless formation, chins up and chests out, in
spite of clogging mud that was almost too much for the mules.

The review ended in compliments all around. Secretary Baker's
enthusiasm was conveyed even to the lesser officers. General Pershing
said: "These men have been there and know what it is. You can tell that
by the way they throw out their chests as they swing by."

America at last had her veterans. They were to dignify the coming gift
of them to heroic size.



CHAPTER XIX

A FAMOUS GESTURE


When America had put the power of all her eloquence into the growing
demand among the Allies for a unified command, and when, as a result of
this pressure, General Foch, chief of staff of the French Army and hero
of the battle of the Marne, had been made generalissimo, General
Pershing put into words in what the French called a "superb gesture" the
final sacrifice his country was prepared to make.

The first of the great German drives of 1918 had halted, but the battle
was nowhere near its end. General Foch was sparing every possible energy
on the battle-front and heaping up every atom of force for his reserve.

And on the morning of March 28 General Pershing went to headquarters and
offered the American Army in full to General Foch, to put where he
pleased, without any regard whatever for America's earlier wish to fight
with her army intact.

It was the final sacrifice to the idealistic point of view. It had
indisputably the heroic quality. And as such it was rewarded in the
countries of the Allies with appreciation beyond measure.

"I have come," said General Pershing to General Foch that morning, "to
say to you that the American people would hold it a great honor for our
troops if they were engaged in the present battle. I ask it of you in my
name and in that of the American people.

"There is at this moment no other question than that of fighting.
Infantry, artillery, aviation--all that we have are yours, to dispose of
them as you will. Others are coming, which are as numerous as will be
necessary. I have come to say to you that the American people would be
proud to be engaged in the greatest battle in history."

This offer was placed immediately by General Foch before the French
war-council at the front, a council including Premier Clemenceau,
Commander-in-Chief Pétain, and Louis Loucheur, Minister of Munitions,
and was immediately accepted. American Army orders went forth in French
from that day. And on those orders the army was presently scattered
through the vast reserve army, from Flanders with the British to Verdun
with the Italians and the French. They were not to go into actual
battle, except near their own sectors, till the third monster drive, in
July, for General Foch makes a religion of the reserve army and Fabian
tactics. But they spread through the battle-line from Switzerland to the
sea, as General Pershing had suggested, and "all we have" was at work.

Paris acclaimed the move royally. _La Liberté_ wrote: "General Pershing
yesterday took, in the name of his country, action which was grand in
its simplicity and of moving beauty. In a few words, without adornment,
but in which vibrated an accent of chivalrous passion, General Pershing
made to France the offer of an entire people. 'Take all,' he said; 'all
is yours.' The honor Pershing claims is shared by us, and it is with the
sentiment of real pride that our soldiers will greet into their ranks
those of the New World who come to them as brothers."

Secretary Baker, from American General Headquarters, gave out a
statement. "I am delighted at General Pershing's prompt and effective
action," he said, "in placing all the American troops and facilities at
the disposal of the Allies in the present situation.

"It will be met with hearty approval in the United States, where the
people desire their expeditionary force to be of the utmost service in
the common cause. I have visited all the American troops in France, some
of them recently, and had an opportunity to observe the enthusiasm with
which officers and men received the announcement that they would be used
in the present conflict. One regiment to which the announcement was made
spontaneously broke into cheers."

The British Government issued an official statement on the night of
April 1: "As a result of communications which have passed between the
Prime Minister and President Wilson; of deliberations between Secretary
Baker, who visited London a few days ago, and the Prime Minister, Mr.
Balfour, and Lord Derby, and consultations in France in which General
Pershing and General Bliss participated, important decisions have been
come to by which large forces of trained men in the American Army can be
brought to the assistance of the Allies in the present struggle.

"The government of our great Western ally is not only sending large
numbers of American battalions to Europe during the coming critical
months, but has agreed to such of its regiments as cannot be used in
divisions of their own being brigaded with French and British units so
long as the necessity lasts.

"By this means troops which are not sufficiently trained to fight as
divisions and army corps will form part of seasoned divisions, until
such time as they have completed their training and General Pershing
wishes to withdraw them in order to build up the American Army.

"Throughout these discussions President Wilson has shown the greatest
anxiety to do everything possible to assist the Allies, and has left
nothing undone which could contribute thereto.

"This decision, however of vital importance it will be to the
maintenance of the Allied strength in the next few months, will in no
way diminish the need for those further measures for raising fresh
troops at home to which reference has already been made.

"It is announced at once, because the Prime Minister feels that the
singleness of purpose with which the United States have made this
immediate and, indeed, indispensable contribution toward the triumph of
the Allied cause should be clearly recognized by the British people."

Lord Reading, the British Ambassador at Washington, conveyed to
President Wilson a message of thanks from the British Government, for
"the instant and comprehensive measures" which the President took in
response to the request that American troops be used to reinforce the
Allied armies in France. The Embassy then gave out a statement that "the
knowledge that, owing to the President's prompt co-operation, the Allies
will receive the strong reinforcement necessary during the next few
months is most welcome to the British Government and people."

The London papers reflected this sentiment in even stronger terms. Said
the _Westminster Gazette_: "It seals the unity of the Allied forces in
France, and so far from weakening the determination to provide all
possible reinforcements from this country, it will, we are confident,
give it fresh energy. All the big loans America has made to Great
Britain and France, her heavy contributions of food, her princely gifts
through the Red Cross, and the high, stimulating utterances of President
Wilson, have done much to strengthen the Allied morale and lend material
assistance to the war against autocracy, but none of these counts so
heavily with the masses, because there are few families here or in
France who have not a personal and intimate interest in the soldiers
battling on the plains of Picardy."

The _Evening Star_ wrote: "In a true spirit of soldierly comradeship
they will march to the sound of guns, and will merge their national
pride in a common stock of courage for the common good. It is a
chivalrous decision, and President Wilson, Mr. Baker, and General Bliss
have done a very great thing in a very great way. The British and French
people are moved by this splendid proof of America's fellowship in the
fight for world freedom."

If this gift was so significant in spirit, it was also bravely helpful
in round numbers. At the end of March, 1918, General Pershing had
366,142 soldiers in his command in France, and of these, after nine
months of training and adjustment, he could put about 100,000 in the
line.

And within three months after this time he had more than 1,000,000
soldiers in France, the Navy Department having accomplished the
astounding feat of transporting 637,929 in April, May, and June. The
month that the reinforcement of the French and British Armies was
planned and accepted the transport figures jumped from forty-eight
thousand odd to eighty-three thousand odd. The month of its first
practical operation the figures jumped again to one hundred and
seventeen thousand odd, and in the month of June, the month of the
anniversary of the first debarkation, there was a transportation of
276,372 men.

The last few days of March, 1918, saw the first large troop movements
from the American zone--that is, saw them strictly in the mind's eye.
Actually, the rain came down in such drenching downpours that the
French villagers whom the motor-trucks passed did not so much see as
hear the doughboys. Throughout the whole zone the activity was
prodigious. Along the muddy roads two great processions of motor-trucks
crossed each other day and night, the one taking the soldiers to one
front, the other to another. Sometimes the camions slithered in the mud
till they came to a stop in the gutter. Then the boisterous, jubilant
soldiers would tumble out and set their shoulders under wheels and
mud-guards, and hoist the car into the road again. The singing was
incessant. The mood of the songs swung from "The Battle Hymn of the
Republic" to "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town To-night."

The exuberance of the soldiers knew no bounds. They were about to answer
"present" to the roll-call of the big guns, the call they had been
hearing for so many months, that had seemed to them so persistently and
personally compelling. They were going to become a part of that living
wall which for three years and a half had held the enemy out of Paris.

Those who were going to the British front were particularly exultant
because they expected to find open fighting there, the kind they called
"our specialty."

To all the units going into the French and British Armies a general
order was read, jacking up discipline to the topmost notch.

"The character of the service this command is now about to undertake,"
read the order, "demands the enforcement of stricter discipline and the
maintenance of higher standards of efficiency than any heretofore
required.

"In future the troops of this command will be held at all times to the
strictest observance of that rigid discipline in camp and on the march
which is essential to their maximum efficiency on the day of battle."

The first of the fighting troops arrived on the British front on the
morning of April 10, after an all-night march. They were grimed and
mud-spattered, hungry, and tired, and cold. But the cheering that rose
from the Tommies when they recognized the American uniforms at the head
of the column would have revived more exhausted men than they.

The first comers were infantry, a battalion of them. Others came up
during the day, with artillerymen and machine-gunners. The celebration
of their coming lasted far into the next night, and the commanders of
the British front exchanged telegrams of congratulation with the
commanders of the French front that they were to be so welcomely
refreshed.

But Generalissimo Foch, with his stanch determination not to be done out
of his reserve, held the Americans back, and they were destined to
remain behind the main battle-line for three and a half months longer.

Meanwhile the American strength was piling steadily up in the reserve,
and in mid-May a large contingent of the National Army, said to be the
first of them to land in Europe, reached the Flanders front and began to
train at once behind the British lines, without preliminary work in
American camps in France.

These men had what was probably the most exhilarating welcome of the
war. The Tommies, many of them wounded and sick, poured out into the
roadways as the new American Army arrived, and threw their caps into the
air and split their throats with cheers. The British had been
terrifically hard pressed in the German offensive. They had given ground
only after incredible fighting. They were, in the phrase of General
Haig, at last "with their backs to the wall." They held their line
magnificently, but they could not have been less than filled with
thanksgiving that they were now to have the help of the least war-worn
of all their allies.



CHAPTER XX

THE FIRST TWO BATTLES


While Generalissimo Foch was strengthening his long line, with American
troops as flying buttresses, those sectors delegated to the Americans in
their own right saw two battles, within a few weeks of each other, which
attained to the dignity of names. The battle of Seicheprey, the first
big American defensive action, and the battle of Cantigny, the first big
offensive, the one in the Toul sector, the other in Picardy, were the
occasions of the American baptism of fire. The one was so valiant, the
other so brilliant, and both were so reassuring to the high commands of
the Allies, that they would deserve a special emphasis even if they had
not the distinction of being America's first battles.

On the night of April 20-21 the German bombardment of Seicheprey, a
village east of the Renners wood, and just northwest of Toul, grew to
monstrous proportions. Frenchmen who had seen the great Verdun
offensive, in which the German Crown Prince had made a new record for
artillery preparation, said that the heavy firing on the American sector
eclipsed any of the action at Verdun.

The firing covered a front of a mile and a quarter. The bombardment was
of high explosive shells and gas, apparently an effort to disable the
return fire from American artillery. But all through the night the
artillerymen sent their shells, encasing themselves in gas-masks.

Toward dawn the attack began. A full regiment of German soldiers,
preceded by 1,200 shock troops, advanced under a barrage. Halfway across
No Man's Land the American artillery laid down a counter-barrage, and
many of the Germans dropped under it, but still the great waves of them
came on, focussing on the village of Seicheprey.

The impact of their terrific numbers was too powerful to be withstood at
once. The American troops fell back from some of their first-line
trenches, which the first bombardment had caused them to hold loosely,
and part of the forces fell back even from the village. The Germans
marched into the village, evidently believing it to have been totally
abandoned, carrying their flame-throwers and grenades, but making no use
of them. Suddenly they discovered that certain American troops had been
left to defend the village, while the main force reformed at the rear,
and hand-to-hand fighting in the street became necessary. An American
commander sent word back that the troops were giving ground by inches,
and that they could hold for a few hours.

Seicheprey, the first big American battle, had every element of the
World War in little. Before the loss of the village, which occurred
about noon, the troops defending it had fought from ambush and in the
open, had fought with gas and liquid fire, with grenades, rifles, and
machine-guns. In the inferno the new troops were giving proof of valor
that was to come out later and be scattered broadcast, as a measure of
what America would bring.

In and out of the streets of Seicheprey, in its little public square,
from the yards of its houses, hundreds of American soldiers were
fighting for their lives. France lay behind them, trusting to be saved.
Other Americans were behind them, racing into formation with French
troops for the counter-attack. The defenders of Seicheprey, "giving by
inches," had a battle-cry of their own, brief and racy, of the
football-fields: "Hold 'em."

After a while the Germans took Seicheprey. The hideously pressed,
slow-giving outpost moved back. Before the day had finished the
shell-stripped streets of Seicheprey, sheltering the invaders, weltered
again under the first American shells of the counter-attack. By
nightfall the troops were creeping forward under the counter-barrage.
The army, reformed, refreshed, and replenished, was on its way to take
its own back again. The counter-battle lacked the monstrous gruelling of
the first attack. It took less time. The superiority of numbers had
shifted to the other side, and the white heat of determination did its
share.

The Germans held Seicheprey about four hours.

The main positions of the army, which were threatened, were untouched
because of the stoutness of the resistance at the village, and most of
the first-line positions were retaken with the rush of the
counter-attack.

The German prisoners who were captured had many days' rations in their
kits and extra loads of trench-tools on their backs. They had intended
to hold the American trenches for several days, facing them the other
way, before they commenced the new attack, which, in the plan of the
German high command, was to break apart the French and American lines
where they joined, above Toul. Once this wedge was into the Allied
vitals the rest was to be easy.

Though Seicheprey did not count as a big battle in point of numbers
engaged or numbers lost, it loomed large enough in the importance it had
strategically. The German high command obviously expected little or
nothing from the "green American troops." The shock troops had been
rehearsed for weeks to take the American lines and hold them till the
Allied line should be broken apart. In fact, it was nobly planned. The
only compliment the Americans could squeeze out of it was that the
Germans were sent over in many places eight to their one. But the
capture of Seicheprey lasted just four hours, and the disruption of the
Franco-American line remained a mere brain-child of the Wilhelmstrasse.

The French soldiers who joined the counter-attack told thrilling stories
of the Americans. They told that in one place north of Seicheprey, an
American detachment was separated into small groups, and was cut off
from the company to which it belonged through the entire fight. Behind
the Americans and on their left flank were German units, but they could
have retired on the right. They decided to stay and fight, so there they
stayed, notwithstanding incessant enemy bombardment.

In the town of Seicheprey a squad of Americans found a few cases of
hand-grenades. With these they put up a tremendous fight through the
whole day, holding to a strip at the northern end of the village. They
refused to surrender when they were ordered to, and at the end of the
fighting only nine of the original twenty-three were left. By the grace
of these nine men Seicheprey was never wholly German, even for the four
hours.

One New England boy passed through the enemy barrage seven times to
carry ammunition to his comrades. A courier who was twice blown off the
road by shell explosions carried his message through and dropped as he
reported. A lieutenant with only six men patrolled six hundred yards of
the front throughout the day, holding communications open between the
battalions to the right and left of him. A sanitary-squad runner
captured by the Germans, escaped them and made his way into Seicheprey,
tending the wounded there till help came. A machine-gunner found himself
alone with his gun, and on being asked by a superior officer if he could
hold the line there, replied that he could if he were not killed. He
did. A regimental chaplain went to the assistance of a battery which was
hard pressed, and carried ammunition for them for hours, then took his
turn at the gun.

These make no roster of the heroes of Seicheprey. There were hundreds of
them. But the censor's passionate aversion to details of all battles has
scotched the narrative of heroes for the present.

Cantigny will warm the cockles of the American heart as long as it
beats. There was a battle that for spirit, flare, brilliancy, came up to
the rosiest dream that ever was dreamed, in Washington, or London, or
Paris.

Cantigny, like Seicheprey, was not an engagement of great numbers. It
was a little town that was hard to capture. It commanded a fine view of
the American lines for miles back, and it had been able to withstand
some violent attempts earlier, so it was particularly desirable. And it
was in a salient, so that it formed an angle in the line. Its taking
straightened the line, heartily disgruntled the Boches, who lost 200
prisoners and many hundred wounded and dead in defending it, and it gave
the American troops their first taste of the offensive. But more than
all that, it gave these same troops a record of absolutely flawless
workmanship which, if not large, was at least complete.

The capture of Cantigny and 200 yards beyond it, which included the
German second line, took just three-quarters of an hour.

In the niggardly terms of the communique: "This morning in Picardy our
troops attacked on a front of one and a fourth miles, advanced our
lines, and captured the village of Cantigny. We took 200 prisoners and
inflicted on the enemy severe losses in killed and wounded. Our
casualties were relatively small. Hostile counter-attacks broke down
under our fire."

It was on the morning of May 28. At a quarter to six a bombardment
began. At a quarter to seven the troops went over the top. The barrage
went first, a dense gray veil. Then came twelve French tanks. Just
behind the tanks stalked the doughboys.

The soldiers moved like clockwork. There were no unruly fringes to be
nipped by the barrage. There was no break in the methodical stride. They
went forward first a hundred yards in two minutes. Then the barrage
slowed to a hundred yards in four minutes. In a little while the troops
had arrived at the edge of the village; then the close-quarter fighting
began.

At 7.30 a white rocket rose from the centre of Cantigny, dim against the
smoky sky, to tell the men behind that "the objective is reached and
prisoners are coming."

The Americans found the enemy in confusion and unreadiness, and the
initial resistance from machine-guns at the town's edge was easily
overcome. Where the burden of hard fighting came was in routing the
Germans out from the caves and tunnels and cellars of the town into
which they had retired.

There was a long tunnel in the town, which, after furious fighting, was
surrounded and isolated. The flame-throwers were placed at both ends of
the tunnel, and that episode was ended. Some of the caves were large
enough to hold a battalion. These were handled by the mopping-up troops,
who threw hand-grenades.

The prisoners began to file back almost immediately. One grinning
Pittsburgher, wounded in the arm, marched in the rear of a prison squad.
"That's handin' it to them Huns, blankety-blank 'em," he said
cheerfully.

The village caught fire from the bombardment and the firing of the
tunnel, and for hours after its capture the soldiers had to fight
flames.

The first of the American "shock troops" went from the village on to the
German second-line trenches, and under a hail of bullets from German
machine-guns dug themselves in and faced the trenches the other way.

All that day they held their prize unmolested. They had all the high
ground beyond Cantigny, and an approach was, to put it mildly,
precarious. But by five of the afternoon the German counter-attacks had
begun. One wave after another stormed half-way up the hill, then tumbled
down again, broken under the American artillery. Four counter-attacks
were made against Cantigny, but all of them failed. The new positions
were consolidated, under heavy fire and gas attack, and there they
stayed.

This gallant battle called forth intemperate commendation from the
headquarters of the Allies. The French despatch to Washington told
officially of the high opinion the French held of it, and there were
many congratulatory telegrams from London. The press of London and Paris
glowed with praises. The London _Evening News_ wrote:

"Bravo, the young Americans! Nothing in to-day's battle narrative from
the front is more exhilarating than the account of their fight at
Cantigny. It was clean-cut from beginning to end, like one of their
countrymen's short stories, and the short story of Cantigny is going to
expand into a full-length novel, which will write the doom of the Kaiser
and Kaiserism. We expected it. We have seen those young Americans in
London, and merely to glance at them was to know that they are
conquerors and brothers in that great Anglo-Saxon-Latin compact which
will bring down the Prussian idol.... They do not swagger, and they have
no war illusions. They have done their first job with swift precision,
characteristic of the United States, and Cantigny will one day be
repeated a thousand-fold."

_The Times_ wrote:

"Our allies know the significance of that as well as we do. So, too, do
the German generals and the German statesmen. It means that the last
great factor between autocracy and freedom is coming into effective play
on the battle-field.... There could be no reflection more heartening for
the Allies or more dismaying to their adversaries."

"Their adversaries," meanwhile, were doing what they could to keep their
dismay to themselves. In the German announcement of the loss of
Cantigny there was mention only of "the enemy." The German people were
not to know for a while that the "ridiculous little American Army" had
got to work.



CHAPTER XXI

TEUFEL-HUNDEN


No branch of service in the American Army was so quick to achieve group
consciousness as the marines. To be sure, these soldiers of the sea had
a considerable tradition behind them before they came to France. The
world is never so peaceful that there is nothing for the marines to do.
Always there is some spot for them to land and put a situation into
hand. It is no fault of the marines that most of these brushes have been
little affairs, and they have found, as Mr. Kipling says, that "the
things that you learn from the yellow and brown will 'elp you a heap
with the white."

The Navy Department has always been careful to preserve the tradition of
the marines. The organization has never lacked for intelligent
publicity. "First to fight" was a slogan which brought many a recruit
into the corps. Even the dreary work of policing, which falls largely
to the marines, has been dramatized to a certain extent by that fine
swaggering couplet of their song:

    "If the army or the navy ever gaze on heaven's scenes,
    They will find the streets are guarded by United States marines."

The belief that the marines would make a distinctive mark in the great
World War was practically unanimous. Army officers couldn't deny it, war
correspondents hastened to proclaim it, and the Germans admitted it by
bestowing the name "Teufel-hunden" (devil-dogs) on the marines
immediately after their first engagement. The marines themselves were
second to no one in the consciousness of their own prowess.

"I understand," said a little marine just two days off the transport,
"that this Kaiser isn't afraid of the American Army so much, but that he
is afraid of the marines."

The boy didn't say whether one of his officers had told him that, but
his belief was passionate and complete. However, the marines did not
allow their high confidence to interfere in any way with their
preparations. They showed the same anxiety to make good on the
training-fields that they later displayed on the line. Their camp in the
American area was just a bit farther from the centre of things than that
of any other organization. Whenever there was a review or a special show
of any sort for a distinguished visitor, the marines had to march twelve
miles to attend. And after that it was twelve miles home again. But they
thrived on hard work. They shot, bayoneted, and bombed just a little
better than any other organization in the first division. Sometimes
individual marines would complain a little about the fact that they were
worked harder than any men in the division, but they always took care to
add that they had finished the construction of their practice-trench
system days before any of the others. When they mentioned the fact that
they had achieved this result by working in day and night shifts it was
never possible to tell whether they were airing a grievance or making a
boast. It is probable that they were something of the mind of Job, whose
boils were both a tribulation and a triumph.

There was no doubt as to the opinion of the marines when it seemed for a
time as if they might not get into the fighting. They did not go into
the trenches with the first division, but were broken up and sent to
various points for police duty. Of course they were bitterly
disappointed, but they merely policed a little harder, and it was a
severe winter for soldiers who went about with their overcoats
unbuttoned, or committed other breaches of military regulations.

Since the marines did hard work well, they were rewarded by more hard
work, and this was labor more to their taste. The reward came suddenly.
On May 30 a unit of marines was in a training-camp so far back of the
lines that it was impossible to hear the sound of the guns even when the
Germans turned everything loose for a big offensive. On that same day
the Germans reached the Marne east of Château-Thierry and began an
advance along the north bank toward the city. That night the marines
were ordered to the front.

They rode almost a hundred kilometres to get into the fight. It was late
afternoon when they reached a hill overlooking Château-Thierry. French
guns all about them were being fired up to their very limit or a little
beyond. The Germans were coming on. These marines had never been in a
battle before, with the exception of a few who had chased little brown
rebels in various brief encounters on small islands. They had never been
under shell fire. And this their first engagement was one of the biggest
in the greatest war in history. From the hill they could see houses fold
up and fields pucker under the pounding of big guns. The marines were
told that as soon as darkness came they would march into the town and
hold the bridges against the German Army, which was coming on. Somebody
asked a French officer some days later how these green troops had taken
their experience as they waited the word to go forward. "They were
concombres," said the Frenchman. Our word is cucumbers.

Finally, the order came for the advance. It was a dark night, but the
marines could see their way forward well enough. The German bombardment
had set fire to the railroad-station. The Americans kept in the shadows
as much as they could, but they danced around so much that it was
difficult. They placed their machine-guns here and there behind walls
and new barricades, so that they could enfilade the approaches to the
bridges and the streets on the opposite side of the river. One
lieutenant with twelve men and two guns took up a position across the
river. It was up to him to stand off the first rush.

The shelling from the enemy guns was intensified during the night, but
the infantry had not yet reached the town. It was five o'clock of a
bright morning when the little advance post of the Americans saw the
Germans coming across the open field toward the river. They were
marching along carelessly in two columns and there were twelve men in
every line. One of the machine-guns swung her nose around a little and
the fight was on. At last the American was definitely in one of the
major engagements of the war. American machine-gunners were doing their
bit to block the advance on Paris. All day long the marines held the
Germans back with their machine-guns. And that night they beat back a
German mass attack when the Boches came on and on in waves, with men
locked arm in arm. They could hear them, for they sang as they rushed
forward, and the machine-gunners pumped their bullets into the spots
where the notes were loudest.

The next day the Americans were forced to give some ground when the
order came to retire, but they had been through, perhaps, the most
intensive two days of training which ever fell to the lot of green
troops.

The marines did not have to wait long for retaliation. Other units of
marines from other camps had been hurrying up to the front, and on June
6 an offensive was launched on a front of two and a half miles. The
first day's gain was two and three-sixteenth miles and 100 prisoners
were captured. This attack yielded all the important high ground
northwest of Château-Thierry. The marines did not rest with this gain.
They struck again at five o'clock in the afternoon, and by June 7 the
attack had grown to much greater proportions. Four villages, Vinly,
Veuilly-la-Poterie, Torcy, and Bouresches, fell into the hands of the
French and Americans. The thrust was pressed to a maximum depth of two
miles on a ten-mile front. More than 300 prisoners were captured by the
Americans. The attack was carried out under American command,
Major-General James G. Harbord being in charge of the operation.

As in the Cantigny offensive, the Americans worked with great speed, and
showed that they could make the rifle an effective weapon even under the
changed conditions of modern warfare. But though they were swift they
were not silent. They went over the top shouting like Indians, and they
kept up the noise as they went forward. The second attack was carried
out by the same men who had advanced in the morning. The early showing
had been so promising that it was decided to go on, particularly as the
Germans seemed to be somewhat shaken by the violence of the assault. In
this new sweep the marines took ground on either side of Belleau Wood.
They also captured the ravine south of Torcy. The Germans were not able
to organize an effective counter-attack immediately, for they had been
too much surprised by the thrust. Also the effective work of the
American artillery made it difficult for the Germans to bring up fresh
troops.

[Illustration: _Copyright by the Committee on Public Information._

U. S. Marines in readiness to march to the front.]

In the rough country over which the battle was fought there was
opportunity for the fight to disintegrate into the little eddies where
individual initiative counts for so much. In a fight near Le Thiolet,
Captain James O. Green, Jr., found himself cut off by the Germans. He
was accompanied by five privates. Back at regimental headquarters Green
had already been reported as killed or captured. He proved the need of
clerical revision, for he and his men fought their way back to the
American lines. At one point ten Germans tried to intercept him, but the
six Americans succeeded in killing or wounding every member of the enemy
party. A single marine who was taking back a prisoner ran into two
German officers and ten men. He fell upon them with rifle and bayonet
and disposed of both officers and several of the men. Then he made his
escape. Somebody told the marine when he got back to the American lines
that he certainly had been "in luck."

"Hell! no," said the fighting man; "they took my prisoner away from
me."

Still another marine was captured while dazed by a blow on the head. He
recovered in time to deal his captor a tremendous punch on the jaw, and
made his way back to the American lines. The favorite slogan of the
Americans was: "Each man get a German; don't let a German get you."

Early on June 8 the Germans launched a counter-attack against the
American position between Bouresches and Le Thiolet. This attack broke
down. The trenches which the Americans held were new and shallow, but
the troops were well supplied with machine-guns, and the German infantry
never got closer than within a couple of hundred yards of the position.
The marines were not yet content with their success. They took the
initiative again on June 10 and smashed into the German lines for about
two-thirds of a mile on a 600-yard front. In this attack two minenwerfer
were captured. The object of the attack was to clean out Belleau Wood.
The Germans retained only the northern fringe.

By this time the offensive had ceased to be wholly a marine affair. The
9th and 23d Regiments of infantry, comprising what is known as the
Syracuse Brigade, took up their positions on the right of the soldiers
of the sea. During the next few days the Germans made several violent
counter-attacks, but without success, and on June 26 the Americans
pushed their gains still further by a successful assault south of Torcy,
in which more than 250 Germans were captured. This victory gave
Pershing's men absolute command of the Bois de Belleau, which was the
strategic point for which the Germans had fought so hard.

It was after the Château-Thierry offensive that for the first time the
American Army won a place in the German official communique. Before that
they had been simply "the enemy," and once, upon the occasion of a
successful German raid, North American troops. But now Berlin unbent a
little and used the term "an American regiment." Germany was prepared to
admit that America was in the war. It is just possible that some of
their men who broke before the rush of the marines returned to give
headquarters the information.



CHAPTER XXII

THE ARMY OF MANŒUVRE


While the American Army was showing its quality in the minor battles of
Seicheprey, Cantigny, Château-Thierry, and Vaux, and its quantity was
showing itself in leaps of hundreds of thousands of men a month, a
destiny was shaping for it, equally in circumstances and in the mind of
Generalissimo Foch, which was to be even greater than that it had
sacrificed in late March, when it submerged its identity and said: "Put
us where you will."

For when, on July 18, the fifth German offensive suddenly shivered into
momentary equilibrium and then rolled back, with Foch and the Allies
pounding behind it, and when this counter-attack developed into a
continuing offensive which was to straighten the Marne salient and throw
back the Germans from before Amiens and do the future only knows what
else besides, the Allied world said, in one voice: "Foch has found his
army of manœuvre, and it's the Americans."

This "army of manœuvre" has always been the king-pin of French
strategy. While the Germans were trying two systems--first, the broad
front attack which trusted to overbear by sheer weight anything which
opposed it, and, second, the so-called Hutier system of draining the
line of all its best fighters, and organizing shock troops immeasurably
above the average for offensive, while the line was held by the rag-tag
and bobtail--the French stuck to their traditional system. This was to
hold the lines with the lightest possible number of men, of the highest
possible caliber, and to thrust with a mobile force, foot-loose and
ready to be swung wherever a spot seemed likely to give way.

It was with the "army of manœuvre," thrown up from Paris in frantic
haste by Galliéni, in taxicabs and trucks, that General Foch made the
miraculous plunge through the Saxon army at Fère-en-Tardenois, in
September, 1914, which saved the first battle of the Marne.

When General Foch became generalissimo, in late March, just after the
first German offensive on March 21 had thrown the British back, and when
the French were retreating at Montdidier, the expectation universally
was that the Allies would begin an offensive, within the shortest
possible time. Foch had been quoted all over the world as saying that
"defensive fighting was no defense." Yet April, May, and June passed,
and part of July, and except for scattering attacks along the Marne
salient, and patient rear-guard action when the retreats were necessary,
the Allies made no move.

The Austrian debacle came and went. Foch had Italy off his mind, and the
Italians were more than taking care of themselves. Still he did not
strike. And finally it became clear that he was showing this long
patience because he wanted what every Frenchman wants first in every
battle, and what he did not surely have until July--his army of
manœuvre.

The fitness of the American Army for this brilliant use was dual: first,
that its source was virtually inexhaustible; second, that it was better
at offensive than defensive fighting.

The American Army had a quality, and the defect of that quality: it
wanted to get to Berlin regardless of tactics. And while General Foch
was trusting to time to prove to them that, pleasant or unpleasant, the
tactics had to be observed, he turned their spectacular fire and
exuberance to direct account.

Of course, the American troops in France then ready to fight could not
alone make up the Allied army of manœuvre. They were the core of it,
however, and their growing numbers guaranteed it almost indefinitely, so
that the attack of which it was to be the backbone could safely be
begun. Some of the troops originally intended for welding with the
British and French Armies were kept in the line without change.

But in the main the statement was true: the American Army was to rove
behind the Allied lines till Foch discovered or divined a German
weakness to strike into.

In the second battle of the Marne, begun that July 18, when the Allies
took the offensive again for the first time in more than a year, the
crown prince and his army of approximately half a million were tucked
down in the Marne salient, driving for Paris. The German line came down
from Soissons to Château-Thierry, ran east from Château-Thierry along
the Marne River, then turned up again to Rheims. In a space about thirty
miles square the crown prince had imprudently poured all his troops,
which, for the fifth offensive, begun July 15, included about a third of
the man-power of the western front.

The Allied troops lying around the three sides of this salient were
French and American on the western side, Americans across the bottom,
east from Château-Thierry, and French, British, and Italian from the
Marne up to Rheims. While the French and British were squeezing in the
two sides at the top, it was the American job to keep the Germans from
bursting out from the bottom, and, if possible, to break through or roll
them back.

The Americans began the attack east of Château-Thierry, where the
Germans had crossed the Marne and lay a few miles to the south of it.
There had been lesser actions here for several days, in the process of
stopping the enemy offensive, and by the morning of the 18th the
Americans dominated the positions around the Marne. The first day of the
counter-offensive had magnificent results. The Germans were forced back
on a 28-mile front, for a depth varying from 3 to 6 miles, and the
Americans captured 4,000 prisoners and 50 guns. Twenty French towns were
delivered, and the Germans began what appeared to be a precipitate
retreat. Foch's attack was mainly on the flank of the crown prince's
army, which had been left exposed in the rush toward Epernay and
Châlons, far south of the Marne.

The infantry attack was made with little or no artillery preparation.
The German general, Von Boehm, was plainly caught napping.

The communiqués of both sides were for once in agreement. The French
said: "After having broken the German offensive on the Champagne and
Rheims mountain fronts on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, the French troops,
in conjunction with the American forces, attacked the German positions
on the 18th, between the Aisne and the Marne on a front of forty-five
kilometres [about twenty-eight miles]. We have made an important
advance into the enemy lines, and have reached the plateau dominating
Soissons ... more than twenty villages have been retaken by the
admirable dash of the Franco-American troops.... South of the Ourcq our
troops have gone beyond the general line of Marizy, Ste.-Genevieve,
Hautvesnes, and Belleau."

The German communiqué said: "Between the Aisne and the Marne, the French
attacked with strong forces and tanks, and captured some ground." Later
in the same communiqué the conclusion was drawn: "The battle was decided
in our favor."

On the second day, while the march under Soissons continued, and there
were scattering gains on the Marne side, the number of Allied prisoners
grew to 17,000, and the number of guns captured to 360. Nobody could
tell, at this point, whether the crown prince's army was retreating
voluntarily or involuntarily. In many places the Germans were taken by
American soldiers from the peaceful pursuit of cutting wheat behind the
lines. Some high officers were nabbed from their beds. On the other
hand, the fact that the German rear-guard actions were chiefly with
machine-guns seemed to indicate that they were moving their heavy pieces
back in fair orderliness.

On the third day the Germans were thrown back over the Marne, and the
crown prince, having sent an unavailing plea to Prince Rupprecht for new
troops, suddenly showed fight with the crack Prussian guards.

These guards had their worst failure of the war when they met the
Americans. It is difficult to prevent the statement from sounding
offensively boastful. It is, none the less, true. The Germans, having
decided that their retreat was wearing the look of utter rout, and that
they must resist fiercely enough to stop it, risked a British
break-through to the north by throwing in Ludendorf's prize soldiers
above the Marne. And although the American total of prisoners around
Soissons had risen to nearly 6,000, and though they did force back the
Prussian guard, they did not make prisoners from their number. One
American after another told, afterward, with a sort of reluctant
admiration, that the Prussian guard had died where it stood. This
fighting near the Ourcq, and fatally near the vitals of the encircled
crown prince, was the most desperate of the second Marne battle.

On July 21 Château-Thierry was given up by the Germans, and the pursuing
Allies, French and American, drove the enemy beyond the highroad to
Soissons, and threatened the only highway of retreat, as well as the
German stores. The supply-centre within the salient was
Fère-en-Tardenois, and it was being raked by Allied guns from both sides
of the salient.

The character of the fighting changed again, so that again it was
impossible to make sure if Von Boehm intended to stand somewhere north
of the Marne and put up a fight, or if he intended to make all speed
back to a straight line between Soissons and Rheims. The resistance was
by machine-gun, so that Americans, having their first big experience
with the enemy, insisted that he had nothing but machine-guns to trust
to. It is, of course, possible that the crown prince and Von Boehm knew
no more than anybody else whether they were going to clear out, men and
supplies, or whether they would stop again and fight face foremost.

On July 22 the German command answered the question at least partially.
On a line well above the Marne, they brought the big guns into play, and
poured in shock troops. Airplanes from the Allied lines discovered,
however, that the Germans were burning towns and store-houses for many
miles behind the line.

The pressure on the Germans was being brought from the south, where the
Americans were six or seven miles above Château-Thierry, and from the
west and north, where the Franco-American troops were flaying the
exposed side.

The stiffened resistance and the German artillery slowed, but could not
stop, the Allied advance. The eastern side of the salient, from the
Marne to Rheims, bore some desperate blows, but did not give way. As the
pincers closed in, at the top of the salient, the German command
appeared to go back to its original plan of attacking Rheims from the
south.

This was the side on which British and Italian troops were co-operating
with the French, and the German command got for its pains in that
direction a counter-attack which narrowed the distance from battle-line
to battle-line across the top of the salient. The French menaced
Fère-en-Tardenois, the German base of supplies.

Allied aviators bombed these stores, the long-range guns pounded at
them, and what with these and the conflagrations started defensively by
the Germans the Marne salient was a caldron which turned the skies
blood-red.

On July 24 the ground gained all along the line averaged two miles. The
British southwest of Rheims made a damaging curve inward, and the shove
around the other two sides was fairly even.

On July 25, one week from the beginning of the offensive, the Americans
and French from the Soissons side and the British and French from the
Rheims side had squeezed in the neck of the trap till it measured only
twenty-one miles. The French arrived within three miles of
Fère-en-Tardenois, and although the German resistance increased again,
the evacuation of Fère and the removal of stores to Fismes, far up on
the straight line, were foreshadowed.

The road leading between the two supply-bases was shelled incessantly,
and the difficulties of resistance within the fast-narrowing salient
became almost superhuman. But the rear-guard of the Germans "died to a
man," to quote the observers, and the rear action held the Allied gains
to a few miles daily.

A definite retreat began on the morning of July 27, with what the airmen
reported as an obvious determination to make a stand on the Ourcq. The
forest of Fère was taken, and many villages, but the fighting was
insignificant because, in the language of the communiqués, "our forces
lost contact with the enemy." Possibly this is what the famous phrase of
the Ludendorf communiqué, "The enemy evaded us," had in mind.

There was a certain psychological stupidity in this German decision to
make a stand on the Ourcq. It was on the Ourcq that Joffre and Foch made
the fatal stroke of the first Marne battle, and the very name of the
river inspired France.

While this retreat was in progress, the swiftest of the battle, the
German communiqué read: "Between the Ourcq and the Marne, the enemy's
resistance has broken down. Our troops, with those of our allies, are in
pursuit."

On the 29th the Germans crossed the Ourcq, with the Americans behind
them. The "pursuit" continued. The American troops, with French to the
right and left of them, forced the enemy to within a mile of the Vesle,
where his halt had no hope of being more than temporary. The brilliant
charge across the Ourcq was done by New Yorkers--the "fighting 69th,"
which refuses to be known by its new name of "165th." Edwin L. James,
writing of this charge for the New York _Times_, said: "There is doubt
if any chapter of our fighting reached the thrills of our charge across
the Ourcq yesterday. Americans of indomitable spirit met a veritable
hell of machine-guns, shells, gas, and bombs in a strong position, and
broke through with such violence that they made a salient jutting into
the enemy line beyond what the schedule called for."

This American charge cured the Germans of any intention to stay on the
Ourcq. The resistance, after that first attack, was sporadic and
ineffectual. Village after village was reclaimed.

It became plain that the whole Marne salient was to be obliterated, and
that the Germans could not stop till they reached the thirty-six-mile
stretch directly from Soissons to Rheims, at which they had strong
intrenchments.

One terrific stand was made by the Germans at Sergy, just above the
Ourcq. It changed hands nine times during twenty-four hours, with
Americans fighting hand to hand with the Prussian guards. Sergy was
taken in the first rush over the Ourcq, but a counter-attack by the
Prussian Fourth Guard Division, under artillery barrage, gave them the
city. Once these guards were in the city, the artillery barrage could no
longer play over it, and to the stupefaction of the Germans, the
Americans rushed in and fought hand to hand till they cleared the town,
while the German guns were powerless. Time and again this process was
repeated, till at last the Germans gave it up and joined the general
retreat. This counter-attack is believed, however, to have enabled the
crown prince to reclaim great stores of supplies in a woods north of the
village.

At the end of these two weeks of infantry fighting the artillery took
up the task, and the infantry rested for a day, though on August 2 they
made a two-mile gain.

The total of German prisoners for that fortnight was 33,400.

The hideous fighting above the Ourcq between the Americans and the
picked German divisions continued for days, with each day marking a
small advance for the Americans. On August 2 the French regained
Soissons.

On August 3 the Allies advanced six miles, retook fifty villages, and
reached the south bank of the Vesle. American forces entered Fismes. The
salient was annihilated.

On August 4 Fismes fell, and the great supply and ammunition depot
became Allied property. The enemy was forced to cross the Vesle, and
victory on victory was reported along the line which so lately had
dipped into the nerve-centres of France.

The second battle of the Marne had been won.

[Illustration: The capture of Sergy.

"The Americans rushed in and fought hand to hand till they cleared the
town."]

The part of it achieved by America could not fail to stir her heart to
pride and to exaltation. Though numerically the troops were few
enough, not more than 270,000, they traversed the longest distance of
the salient, from Vaux, at its lowest tip, to Fismes, on the straight
line. Their fighting called forth comment from French officers who had
been through the four years of the war, which could not be called less
than rapturous. "They are glorious, the Americans," rang through France.
Clemenceau, speaking of Foch at the end of the battle to which the
Americans had contributed so much, said: "He looks twenty years
younger." He had both found and proved his "army of manœuvre."

The story of this first battle's heroes must wait, though it will be
long enough when it comes, and can include something more heartening
than that "a boy from New England did thus and so," and "the army is
thrilled by the heroic feat of---- of Michigan."

Probably the first death in France in which the whole nation grieved was
that of young Quentin Roosevelt, aviation lieutenant, son of the
ex-President, who fell in an air fight in the preliminary to the battle
on July 17. He was last seen in a fight with two enemy planes. His
machine fell within the German lines. Weeks later the onward Allied
army found his grave, marked, in English, "Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt,
buried by the Germans," and an official despatch from Germany stated
that he had been buried with full military honors.

Colonel Roosevelt made a brief statement: "Quentin's mother and I are
very glad that he got to the front, and had a chance to render some
service to his country and to show the stuff there was in him before his
fate befell him." The news of his death arrived just a few weeks after
the news that he had downed his first German plane. The simple sincerity
of this statement, and its courage, gave an example to the mothers and
fathers of fighters which no one feared they would fail to come up to.
And when the casualty lists from the second Marne battle came in, every
bereavement was stanched by the fact that "they had shown the stuff
there was in them."

Certainly not least in importance was the fact that they had shown it to
the Germans. An official German Army report was captured, July 7, on an
officer taken in the Marne region. After giving a prodigious amount of
detail concerning the American Army, its composition, destination, and
so on, it appended the following opinion:

"The 2d American Division may be classified as a very good division,
perhaps even as assault troops. The various attacks of both regiments on
Belleau Wood were carried out with dash and recklessness. The moral
effect of our firearms did not materially check the advance of the
infantry. The nerves of the Americans are still unshaken.... Only a few
of the troops are of pure American origin; the majority is of German,
Dutch, and Italian parentage, but these semi-Americans, almost all of
whom were born in America and never have been in Europe, fully feel
themselves to be true-born sons of their country."



CHAPTER XXIII

ST. MIHIEL


Historians and military experts are fond of taking one particular battle
or campaign, and saying: "This was decisive." It enables one to simplify
history, to be sure, but often any such process is more simple than
truthful. After all, every battle is to some degree decisive, and the
great actions of the war are so closely connected with smaller ones that
it is difficult to separate them. It is the fashion now to speak of the
second battle of the Marne as the deciding factor in the war. Indeed,
there is one school of strategists which goes back to the first Marne,
and speaks as if nothing which happened after that really mattered.

In this spirit, it is true, that the great tide in the allied fortunes
which began at Château-Thierry and swept higher and higher until the
Germans had been smashed in the second battle of the Marne, did put a
new complexion on the war. The battle definitely robbed the German
offensive of its threat. Paris was saved, in all human probability, from
ever coming into danger again during the course of the war.
Nevertheless, it is far-fetched to take the attitude that the war had
already been won early in August. It was evident by this time that the
German Army had suffered a great defeat. Perhaps a great disaster would
be better. And yet other armies have suffered great disasters and grown
again to power and success. The plight of the Germans was certainly
little worse than that of the Italians after the German offensive, and
yet everybody knows that the Italian Army came back from that defeat to
final victory.

Morale is subject to miracles, and soldiers can be born again. There
might have been combinations of circumstances which would have permitted
the German Army to recover from its fearful defeat and find again its
old arrogance and confidence. Only it had no rest. It is fitting, then,
that the men of all the armies who completed the downfall of the Germans
in the marvellous campaigns at the close of the year 1918 should have
due credit. Their work was also decisive. No one can tell what would
have happened to the German Army if it had not been subjected to the
steady pounding of the allied armies.

No attempt will be made here to estimate the relative importance of the
work done by the various allied armies in the closing campaigns of the
war. This is an interesting, although somewhat ungrateful, task for
military experts. In this account we are dealing simply with the
fortunes of the American Army. It might not be amiss to suggest that the
final victories of the war were won by team-play, and that in such
combinations of effort the praise should go to all, just as the labor
does.

There need be no controversy, however, about the battle of St. Mihiel.
This was an American action. It was under the command of General
Pershing himself, and his forces were made up almost entirely of
Americans. The French acted in an advisory capacity, and we were
dependent, in part, upon them for certain material. General Pershing in
his official report says: "The French were generous in giving us
assistance in corps and army artillery, with its personnel." We were
also under obligation to the French for tanks, but here they were not
able to assist us so liberally, because they had barely enough tanks for
their own use. One of the surprising features of the St. Mihiel victory
is that it was achieved with comparatively slight tank preparation.

St. Mihiel represented the biggest staff problem attempted by the
American Army up to that time. It was, of course, a battle which dwarfed
any previous action in the military history of America. Compared to the
battle of St. Mihiel, the whole Spanish-American War was a mere patrol
encounter, and Gettysburg itself a minor engagement. With the force at
his command, and the weapons, General Pershing could have annihilated
the army of either Grant or Lee in half an hour. Some idea of the
magnitude of the battle may be gathered from the report of General
Pershing: that he had under his command approximately 600,000 troops, or
four times the peace standing of the entire American military
establishment before the war.

It is difficult enough to move an army of that size, with its supplies
and its guns, under any conditions, but the plan for the St. Mihiel
offensive called for a surprise attack, and it was necessary to make all
the troop movements at night. In spite of the vaunted efficiency of the
German intelligence, there seems to be evidence that their high command
had little inkling of the magnitude of the blow impending or the date on
which it would fall. The St. Mihiel salient had been so long a fixture
in the geography of the battle-lines that no change was expected.

In preparation for the offensive the First Army was organized on August
10, under the personal command of General Pershing. Following this move
the Americans took over part of the line. This became a permanent
American sector. Pershing took command of the sector on August 30. At
that time the sector under his command began at Port sur Seille, and
extended through a point opposite St. Mihiel, then twisting north to a
point opposite Verdun. The preparations for the offensive included, in
addition to guns, men, and tanks, the greatest concentration which the
American Army had ever known in transport, ambulances, and aircraft.
Most of the planes in action were of French make, and some were flown by
the French, but there were a few of our manufacture, for on August 7 an
American squadron, completely equipped by American production, made its
appearance at the front.

The preparations for the offensive were minute as well as extensive. It
is, perhaps, worth noting as a sample of the thoroughness with which the
American Army went about the job that no less than 100,000 maps were
issued which showed the character of the terrain around St. Mihiel, with
all the natural and artificial defenses carefully noted, and some
estimate of the strength in which the enemy was likely to be found at
each point. The army had 6,000 telephone instruments, and at least 5,000
miles of wire, so there was no difficulty in keeping in touch with what
the men were doing at every point. The attack began at 1 A.M. on
September 12. The American artillery had been crowded into the sector to
such an extent that the German artillery was completely dominated. The
bombardment lasted for four hours, and then the troops went forward,
preceded by a few tanks, but there were points where infantry went
forward without the aid of these auxiliaries. It was misty when the
seven divisions in the front line sprang out of their trenches, and this
helped to keep losses down. Indeed, throughout the battle the resistance
proved much less determined than had been anticipated.

Although the bombardment had been short, most of the wire had been cut.
There remained a few jobs, however, for the wire-cutters, and for other
soldiers armed with torpedoes. With one method or the other our men
smashed what was left of the wire guarding the enemy first-line
trenches. And then the waves came on and over. There was little
resistance in the first line, for the Germans in these positions were
pretty well demoralized by the terrific artillery pounding which they
had received and the sight of thousands upon thousands of Americans
rushing upon them from out of the fog. For the most part they
surrendered without resistance. As the advance progressed resistance
became stiffer at some points, but the attackers kept pretty generally
up to schedule, or ahead of it. Thiaucourt was taken by the First Corps.
The Fourth Corps fought its way through Nonsard. The Second Colonial
Corps was not asked to make a very great advance, but it had the most
difficult terrain over which to work. It had won all its objects early
in the day. A difficult task was also set for the Fifth Corps, which
took three ridges and then immediately had to repulse a counter-attack.
St. Mihiel fell early in the day. And in an incredibly short period a
salient which had been in the enemy hands for almost four years was
pinched out of existence.

Everybody was delighted to find that in one respect the American
preparations had been too extensive. No less than thirty-five
hospital-trains had been assembled back of the attacking forces, and
there were beds for 16,000 men in the advanced areas, with 55,000 a
little farther back. As a matter of fact, less than one-tenth of these
facilities proved necessary, for the American casualties were only
7,000, and many of these were slight. The German General Staff always
maintained that it had anticipated the attack and that its men were
under orders to retire, as the salient was of no strategic importance.
The last assertion may be true, but there seems to be little to support
the rest, for the total of prisoners was 16,000, with 443 guns. The
quantity of material captured was enormous. In a single depot there were
found 4,000 shells for 77's and 350,000 rounds of rifle cartridges.
Among the other assorted booty were 200 machine-guns, 42 trench-mortars,
30 box-cars, 4 locomotives, 30,000 hand-grenades, 13 trucks, and 40
wagons. The number of German helmets which fell to the doughboys was
naturally countless.

The attack was so completely successful and ran so closely to schedule
that there were few surprises. A little group of newspaper men, however,
were frank to admit that they had encountered one. Following closely
upon the heels of the attacking troops, they came to a village which was
being heavily shelled by the Germans. Accordingly, the newspaper men
took refuge in a dugout until such time as the opportunity for
observation should be more favorable. Coming from the other direction,
a group of German prisoners entered the same village. They had
surrendered to one of the waves of onrushing Americans, but everybody
was too busy to conduct them personally to the rear. They had merely
been instructed to keep marching until they encountered some American
officers or doughboys who were not otherwise engaged, and then surrender
themselves. When the shells fell fast about them the Germans darted for
the dugout in which the newspaper men had previously taken refuge. The
correspondents were astounded and disturbed when sixteen field-gray
soldiers came tumbling in upon them. They could only imagine that at
some point the Germans had struck back and that the counter-attack had
broken through. And the correspondents admit that without a moment's
hesitation they gave one look at the Germans and then raised their
weaponless hands and cried "Kamerad." The perplexing feature of the
situation was that the Germans did exactly the same thing, and a
complete deadlock ensued until a squad of doughboys happened along that
way and took the Germans in charge.

Both sides in the battle were willing to admit that their foemen had
fought with courage. While it is true that the first waves of the
American Army had an easy time, there was stiff but ineffectual
resistance by German machine-gunners later in the day. Many of these men
served their guns without offering surrender, and had to be bombed or
bayoneted. In a document by a German intelligence officer, which fell
into American hands much later in the war, a very frank tribute was paid
to the extraordinary courage of the Americans. The German officer said
that they seemed to be absolutely without fear on the offensive, and
must be reckoned with as shock troops, although they sometimes fought
greenly. He reported, however, that American leadership was less
impressive, and stated that the American Army might have gone much
farther if it had been more quick to take advantage of its early
success. But this would seem to be a mere effort to whistle up courage
in the German General Staff, for a consideration of the territory which
fell into American hands as a result of the attack shows some measure of
its success. This comprised 152 square miles which was recovered from
the Germans. And in this liberated district were 72 villages.

And yet the importance of the battle can hardly be measured in territory
regained, and much less in booty or in guns. "This signal success of the
American Army in its first offensive was of prime importance," wrote
General Pershing in his report to Secretary Baker. "The Allies found
that they had a formidable army to aid them, and the enemy learned
finally that he had one to reckon with." Moreover, the pinching out of
the St. Mihiel salient put the American Army in a position to threaten
Metz. This threat was one of the factors which caused the enemy to
realize a few months later that further resistance could not hope to
check the allied armies for any considerable time.

The divisions employed at St. Mihiel comprised many of our best units.
Among the divisions engaged were the Eighty-second, the Ninetieth, the
Fifth, and the Second, which made up the First Corps, under
Major-General Hunter Liggett. In the Third Corps were the Eighty-ninth,
the Forty-second, and the First Divisions, under Major-General Joseph
T. Dickman. The Fifth Corps, under Major-General George H. Cameron, had
the Twenty-sixth Division and a French division. In reserve were the
Seventy-eighth, Third, Thirty-fifth, and Ninety-first Divisions. The
Eighteenth and Thirty-third were also available.



CHAPTER XXIV

MEUSE-ARGONNE BEGINS


Having successfully accomplished one piece of work, the American Army
received as its reward another piece of work. The reward consisted in
the fact that the second task assigned to Pershing's men was, perhaps,
the hardest possible at any point in the line. Since 1915 the Argonne
Forest had been a rest area for the German Army. Everything had been
done to make the position impregnable, and so it was in theory. But the
Americans broke that theory and took the forest. So confident were the
Germans of their tenancy that they had built all sorts of palatial
underground dwellings. Barring light, there was no modern convenience
which these dugouts (although that is no fit name) did not possess. Some
had running water. All the most pretentious ones had feather-beds, and
the big underground rooms were gay with pictures and furniture stolen
from the French. The defenses of the positions in the forest included
miles and miles of barbed wire, sometimes hidden in the underbrush, and
again carried around tree-trunks higher than a man could reach. There
were high concrete walls to stop the progress of tanks and deep-pit
traps into which they might fall. And machine guns were everywhere.

The Meuse-Argonne campaign, which falls into three phases, reads far
differently than the taking of St. Mihiel. Except in its early stages
this was no grand running, flawless offensive without a hitch worth
mentioning. In the nature of things it could not be so. The Argonne was
less susceptible to the laws of military strategy. Warfare in these
woods became a struggle between small detached units. Much of the
fighting took place in the dark and practically all of it in the rain.
The American victory was a triumph of the bomb and the rifle, and
perhaps the wire-cutter should be added, over the machine-gun. In many
encounters the opposing units fired at each other from short ranges, and
directed their fire solely by the flashes of the other fellow's
machine-gun. War in the Argonne Forest was a cat-and-dog fight, and
Germany was destined to play the cat's usual rôle, though she clawed her
hardest.

And yet though many of the phases of the Meuse-Argonne were primitive
and elemental in their nature, sound strategy lay behind the campaign.
General Pershing in his vivid report explains not only the necessity for
the campaign but the objects which he sought and gained. St. Mihiel
shook the confidence of the Germans, but neither that success nor those
scored by other allied armies was sufficient to batter the Germans into
defeat.

"The German Army," wrote General Pershing, "had as yet shown no
demoralization, and while the mass of its troops had suffered in morale,
its first-class divisions, and notably its machine-gun defense, were
exhibiting remarkable tactical efficiency as well as courage. The German
General Staff was fully aware of the consequences of a success on the
Meuse-Argonne line. Certain that he would do everything in his power to
oppose us, the action was planned with as much secrecy as possible, and
was undertaken with the determination to use all our divisions in
forcing decision. We expected to draw the best German divisions to our
front and to consume them while the enemy was held under grave
apprehension lest our attack should break his line, which it was our
firm purpose to do."

"Our right flank," wrote General Pershing in describing his position at
the beginning of the battle, "was protected by the Meuse, while our left
embraced the Argonne Forest, whose ravines, hills, and elaborate defense
screened by dense thickets, had been generally considered impregnable.
Our order of battle from right to left was: the Third Corps from the
Meuse to Malancourt, with the Thirty-third, Eightieth, and Fourth
Divisions in line, and the Third Division as corps reserve; the Fifth
Corps from Malancourt to Vauquois, with Seventy-ninth, Eighty-seventh,
and Ninety-first Divisions in line, and the Thirty-second in corps
reserve; and the First Corps, from Vauquois to Vienne Le Château, with
Thirty-fifth, Twenty-eighth, and Seventy-seventh Divisions in line, and
the Ninety-second in corps reserve. The army reserve consisted of the
First, Twenty-ninth, and Eighty-second Divisions."

The American Army had no extended vacation after the victory at St.
Mihiel. That action had hardly been completed when some of the artillery
left its positions and departed for the Meuse-Argonne front. St. Mihiel
began on September 12. Just two weeks later the first attack in the
long-protracted Meuse-Argonne campaign began. The first portion of this
offensive was by far the easiest. It was difficult, to be sure, but the
terrific hardships were still to come. One factor which mitigated the
task of the troops engaged in the first attack was that again the
Germans seemed to have been taken by surprise. The Americans moved very
fast over difficult terrain. This was country which had already been
sorely disputed, and shell-holes were everywhere. In the places where
there were no shell-holes there was barbed wire.

As the attack progressed the German resistance increased. Artillery was
moved forward and machine-guns seemed to spring up overnight in that
much ploughed and harrowed land. Yet after three days' fighting the
Americans had penetrated a distance of from three to seven miles into
the enemy's positions, in spite of the large numbers of reserves which
were thrown in to check them. Even a German _communiqué_ writer would
hardly have the face to maintain that the territory captured by the
Americans was of no strategic importance. Every mile that Pershing's men
went forward brought them that much nearer to Sedan, and on Sedan rested
the whole fate of the German lines in France. But Sedan was still many a
weary mile away. The territorial gains in the onward rush of the first
three days included the villages of Montfaucon, Exermont, Gercourt,
Cuisy, Septsarges, Malancourt, Ivoiry (known to the doughboys, of
course, as Solid Ivory), Epinonville, Charpentry, and Very. Ten thousand
prisoners were taken.

In spite of this great success it was not possible for the Americans to
drive straight forward. The country over which the action was fought was
so bad that several days were needed to build new roads up to the
positions which had been won. Even with the best efforts in the world,
the moving of supplies was a prodigious job. The mud was almost as great
a foe as the German guns. In the necessary lull the Germans, of course,
rushed new troops into the sector to combat the American advance.
Naturally, the lull was not complete. There was constant raiding by
Americans to identify units opposed to them, and here and there in small
local attacks strategic points were taken which would be of advantage in
the big push to come. From prisoners the Americans learned that among
the divisions opposite them were many of the crack units of the German
Army. America was also represented by its best organizations, but under
the constant losses incurred in attacks against strongly intrenched
positions units dwindled, and replacements were poured in. Under the
circumstances it was necessary to send many soldiers to the front who
had been in training but a short while. These were mixed in, however,
with veterans, and it should be said to the credit of these green men
that in practically every case they upheld the reputation of the units
to which they were sent. They were quick to feel themselves as sharers
in the reputation of their new-found organizations.

There was no element of surprise to help the American Army when the
attack began again in full force on October 4. Where progress before had
been measured in miles, now it was counted in yards. Possibly it was
even a matter of feet at some points in the line. Yet always the
movement was forward. Weight of numbers and dogged courage proved that
machine-gun nests of the strongest sort were vulnerable. The Germans
counter-attacked constantly, but such tactics were actually welcomed by
the Americans as they brought the Germans into the open and gave our
riflemen and machine-gunners something at which to shoot. The
difficulties with which the Americans had to contend may be judged by
the fact that, according to an official report, the Germans had
machine-guns at intervals of every yard all along their line.

The Argonne fighting produced many actions more important than the
rescue of the Lost Battalion, but hardly any as dramatic. The incident
could have happened only in the Argonne, where communication with
co-operating units was always difficult, and sometimes impossible.
Major Whittlesey's battalion, in making an attack through the forest,
gained their objectives, only to find that they were out of touch with
the American and French units with which they were co-operating. It is
not true, as sometimes reported, that Whittlesey pushed ahead beyond the
objectives which had been set for him. Nevertheless, he was so far away
from help as to make his chances of rescue small. German machine-guns
were behind him. His men were raked by fire from all sides. Yet their
position was a strong one and they hung on. Soon their rations were
gone. For more than twenty-four hours even their position was unknown to
the American Army. Eventually they were located by aeroplanes and an
attempt was made to supply them with food and ammunition. Even yet
rescue seemed a long chance. The Germans thought the battalion was at
their mercy and sent a messenger asking Whittlesey to surrender. He
refused, and the "Go to Hell" which has been put into his mouth as a
fitting expression for the occasion will probably go down in American
history in spite of the fact that Whittlesey has done his best to
convince people that he never said it. Several attacks were made in an
effort to rescue the Americans but without success until a force under
Lieutenant-Colonel Gene Houghton broke through and brought the exhausted
men back to safety.

The last strongly fortified line of the Germans was the Kriemhilde, and
the second phase of the Meuse-Argonne offensive had not been in progress
long before our men were astride the line at many points. But there was
still much desperate fighting to do before the Germans were completely
driven from their scientifically perfect positions. The honor of
actually breaching the line fell to the Fifth Corps, which entered the
line on October 14 and drove the Germans out after some fearful close
fighting. In the meantime the continual pressure of the American forces
was beginning to tell. Châtel-Chehery fell to the First Corps on October
7. On the 9th the Fifth Corps took Fleville, and the Third Corps, after
some desperate fighting, worked its way through Brieulles and Cunel. By
October 10 the Argonne Forest was practically clear of the enemy.

One of the important factors in the Argonne campaign was aviation.
Aerial activity was great on both sides, since in no other campaign was
observation so difficult or so important. Both sides did a great deal of
day bombing, and during one such American foray the greatest battle of
the air took place. The American expedition consisted of thirty-four
machines. It was attacked by thirty-six Fokkers. Although the German
machines are faster, the American squadron managed to hold its
formation. Seven Fokker machines were brought down in the battle and
five American.

All in all, the Meuse-Argonne campaign was one of the most remarkable in
the history of the war. Its second phase in particular is sure to be a
bone of contention for military experts. General Pershing himself
declared very frankly in his report to Secretary Baker that he had
purposely abandoned traditional military tactics in the campaign. "The
enemy," he wrote, "had taken every advantage of the terrain, which
especially favored the defense, by a prodigal use of machine-guns manned
by highly trained veterans, and by using his artillery at short ranges.
In the face of such strong frontal positions we should have been unable
to accomplish any progress according to previously accepted standards,
but I had every confidence in our aggressive tactics and the courage of
our troops."

Such strategists as oppose the theory of the Meuse-Argonne campaign will
undoubtedly assert that American losses were high. In rebuttal defenders
of the plan of the campaign will say that the losses were very light
considering the nature of the fighting, and that the campaign shortened
the duration of the war appreciably by putting the Germans into a
position where they were compelled either to surrender or be
overwhelmed. But whatever decision may be reached by the experts, there
is no necessity of calling for testimony as to the part the American
soldier played in this campaign. It seems fair to say that he has never
shown more dogged courage or resourcefulness than in the fighting in the
forest.



CHAPTER XXV

CEASE FIRING


Before taking up the final phases of the Meuse-Argonne campaign, and the
final phases of the war, it is fitting to follow the fortunes of some
divisions which saw action in other parts of the front. The Second
Corps, for example, remained with the British and saw desperately hard
service and won corresponding fame. This corps was composed of the
Twenty-seventh and Thirtieth Divisions, and in conjunction with the
Australian Corps it participated in the attack which broke the
Hindenburg line near St. Quentin. The Twenty-seventh Division had the
honor of being the first unit actually to breach the famous defensive
system of the Germans.

The attack began on September 29 and continued through October 1. Both
divisions were compelled to advance over difficult terrain against
strongly fortified positions. They were raked from both sides by
machine-gun fire as they cut their way through innumerable lines of
barbed wire. But in spite of the determined resistance of the Germans,
they broke the line. The divisions also saw hard service from October 6
to October 19. In these operations the Second Corps was credited with
the capture of more than 6,000 prisoners, and advanced into enemy
territory for a distance of thirteen miles. Marshal Haig expressed his
admiration of the conduct and achievements of both the American
divisions which served with his forces.

American divisions also played an important rôle in conjunction with the
French when they assisted in an attack against the Germans just outside
of Rheims. This operation continued from October 2 to October 9 and was
marked by severe and bitter fighting. The American forces engaged were
the Second and Thirty-sixth Divisions. Perhaps the most noteworthy
achievement in the campaign was the capture of Blanc Mont by the Second
Division. Blanc Mont is a wooded hill, and was very strongly held by the
Germans. The Americans were repulsed in their first assault, but came
back and tried again. This time they swept the German defenders before
them. The assault by no means completed their labors, for after the
capture of the hill the division was called upon to repulse strong
counter-attacks in front of the village of St. Etienne. Not content with
driving the Germans back, the Second went on and took the town. The
Germans were forced to abandon positions they had held ever since the
autumn of 1914.

By this time the Second Division had earned a rest, and it was relieved
by the Thirty-sixth. The relieving troops were inexperienced. They had
never been under fire, and the Germans subjected them to a severe
artillery strafing, but did not shake their confidence. The division
performed useful work in pursuing the Germans in their retirement behind
the Aisne.

Other divisions saw service with the French in Belgium. After the ending
of the second phase of the Meuse-Argonne campaign, the Thirty-seventh
and Ninety-first Divisions were withdrawn and sent to join the French
near Ypres. They took part in a heavy attack on October 31. The
Thirty-seventh inflicted a severe defeat upon opposing troops at the
Escaut River on November 3, and the Ninety-first won much praise from
the French for a flanking movement which resulted in the capture of the
Spitaals Bosschen Wood.

Although the German Army had begun to disintegrate by November 1, the
Americans saw some hard fighting after that date. The task set for
Pershing's men was in theory almost as difficult as clearing the Argonne
Forest. The offensive was aimed at the Longuyon-Sedan-Mézierès railway,
which was one of the most important lines of communication of the German
Army. Germany was aware of the gravity of this threat and used her very
best troops in an effort to stop the Americans. For a time the Germans
fought steadily, but their morale was waning at the end. The Americans
found on several occasions that their second-day gains were greater than
those of the first day, which was formerly an unheard of thing on the
western front.

In the final days of the war the Americans had to go their fastest in an
effort to reach Sedan before the armistice went into effect. During one
phase of the battle doughboys mounted on auto-trucks went forward in a
vain effort to establish contact with the enemy. The roads were so bad,
however, that the Americans were unable to catch up with the fleeing
Germans.

The third phase of the Meuse-Argonne campaign found the Americans
absolutely confident of success. They knew their superiority over the
Germans, and the American Army was constantly growing stronger while the
Germans grew weaker. Pershing was able to send well-rested divisions
into the battle. The final advance began on November 1. American
artillery was stronger than ever in numbers and much more experienced.
Never before had our army seen such a barrage, and the German infantry
broke before the advance of the doughboys. The German heart to fight had
begun to develop murmurs, although there were some units among the enemy
forces which fought with great gallantry until the very end.
Aincreville, Doulcon, and Andevanne fell in the first day of the attack.
Landres et St. Georges was next to go, as the Fifth Corps, in an
impetuous attack, swept up to Bayonville. On November 2, which was the
second day of the attack, the First Corps was called in to give added
pressure. By this time the German resistance was pretty well broken. It
was now that the motor-truck offensive began. Behind the trucks the
field-guns rattled along as the artillerymen spurred on their horses in
a vain effort to catch up with something at which they could shoot. At
the end of the third day of the attack the American Army had penetrated
the German line to a depth of twelve miles. A slight pause was then
necessary in order that the big guns might come up, but on November 5
the Third Corps crossed the Meuse. They met a sporadic resistance from
German machine-gunners but swept them up with small losses. By the 7th
of November the chief objective of the offensive thrust was obtained. On
that day American troops, among them the Rainbow Division, reached
Sedan. Pershing's army had cut the enemy's line of communication.
Nothing but surrender or complete defeat was left to him.

In estimating the extent of the American victory it is interesting to
note that General Pershing reported that forty enemy divisions
participated in the Meuse-Argonne battle. Our army took 26,059 prisoners
and captured 468 guns. Colonel Frederick Palmer estimates that 650,000
American soldiers were engaged in the battle. This is a greater number
than were engaged at St. Mihiel, and it was, of course, a new mark in
the records of the American Army. Colonel Palmer has stated his opinion
that Meuse-Argonne was one of the four decisive battles of the war. The
other three which he names are the first battle of the Marne, the first
battle of Ypres, and Verdun.

Curiously enough, Château-Thierry looms larger in the mind of the
average American than Meuse-Argonne, although the number of Americans
engaged in the former battle was not half as great as those who battered
their way through the forest. Of course the importance of a battle is
not to be judged solely by the number of men engaged, but there seems to
be no good reason for assigning a strategic importance to
Château-Thierry which is denied to Meuse-Argonne. Most of the military
critics are of the opinion that the wide-spread belief that the
Americans saved Paris at the battle of Château-Thierry is not literally
true. The American victory was a factor, to be sure. It was even an
important factor. Perhaps, from the point of view of morale, it was
vital, but judged by strict military standards there is no support for
the frequent assertion that only a few marines stood between Paris and
the triumphant entry of the German Army. Meuse-Argonne, on the other
hand, was not only a campaign solely under American control but a
large-scale battle which probably shortened the war by many months. This
victory was America's chief contribution in the field to the cause of
the Allies. It is on Meuse-Argonne that our military prestige will rest.
The divisions engaged were the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth,
Twenty-sixth, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, Thirty-second, Thirty-third,
Thirty-fifth, Thirty-seventh, Forty-second, Seventy-seventh,
Seventy-eighth, Seventy-ninth, Eightieth, Eighty-second, Eighty-ninth,
Ninetieth, and Ninety-first. The First, Fifth, Twenty-sixth,
Forty-second, Seventy-seventh, Eightieth, Eighty-ninth, and Ninetieth
were particularly honored by being put in the line twice during the
campaign.

Though the armistice was now close at hand the war had not ended. The
policy of allied leadership was to fight until the last minute lest
there should be some hitch. The American plans called for an advance
toward Longwy by the First Army in co-operation with the Second Army,
which was to threaten the Briey iron-fields. If the war had kept up,
this would have been followed by an offensive in the direction of
Château-Salins, with the ultimate object of cutting off Metz. The attack
of the Second Army was actually in progress when the time came set in
the armistice for the cessation of hostilities. At eleven o'clock the
hostilities ceased suddenly, although just before that the Second Army
was advancing against heavy and determined machine-gun fire, with both
sides apparently unwilling to believe that the war was almost over. At
other points in the line where no offensive was set for the last day,
the artillerymen had the final word to say. Most of the American guns
fired at the foe just before eleven o'clock, and in many batteries the
gunners joined hands to pull the lanyards so that all might have a share
in the final defiance to Germany.

When the war ended, the American position ran from Port-sur-Seille
across the Moselle to Vandieres, through the Wœvre to Bezonvaux,
thence to the Meuse at Mouzay, and ending at Sedan. There were abroad or
in transit 2,053,347 American soldiers, less the losses, and of these
there were 1,338,169 combatant troops in France. The American Army
captured about 44,000 prisoners and 1,400 guns. The figures on our
losses are not yet entirely checked up at the time of this writing, but
they were approximately 300,000 in killed, died of disease, wounded, and
missing.

When he wrote his report to Secretary Baker, General Pershing reserved
his final paragraph for a tribute to his men, and in it he said:

"Finally, I pay the supreme tribute to our officers and soldiers of the
line. When I think of their heroism, their patience under hardships,
their unflinching spirit of offensive action, I am filled with emotion
which I am unable to express. Their deeds are immortal, and they have
earned the eternal gratitude of our country."



GENERAL PERSHING'S REPORT

BATTLES FOUGHT BY AMERICAN ARMIES IN FRANCE FROM THEIR ORGANIZATION TO
THE FALL OF SEDAN

[CABLED BY GENERAL PERSHING TO MR. BAKER, SECRETARY OF WAR, AND MADE
PUBLIC WITH HIS ANNUAL REPORT, DEC. 5, 1918]


November 20, 1918.

_My dear Mr. Secretary:_ In response to your request, I have the honor
to submit this brief summary of the organization and operation of the
American Expeditionary Force from May 26, 1917, until the signing of the
armistice Nov. 11, 1918. Pursuant to your instructions, 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 equalled 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 the French and British Armies at their
maximum strength, and when all efforts to dispossess the enemy from his
firmly intrenched positions in Belgium and France had 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 overestimated. The first requisite being an organization
that could give intelligent direction to effort, the formation of a
General Staff occupied my early attention.

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 Gen.) James G. Harbord,
who was succeeded in March, 1918, by Major Gen. 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 AND TRAINING

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 battalion, and a third month
after it came out of the trenches when it should be trained as a
complete division in war of movement.

Very early a system of schools was outlined and started which should
have the advantage of instruction by officers direct from the front. At
the great school centre at Langres, one of the first to be organized,
was the staff school, where the principles of general staff work, as
laid down in our own organization, were taught to carefully selected
officers. Men in the ranks who had shown qualities of leadership were
sent to the school of candidates for commissions. A school of the line
taught younger officers the principles of leadership, tactics, and the
use of the different weapons. In the artillery school, at Saumur, young
officers were taught the fundamental principles of modern artillery;
while at Issoudun an immense plant was built for training cadets in
aviation. These and other schools, with their well-considered
curriculums for training in every branch of our organization, were
co-ordinated in a manner best to develop an efficient army out of
willing and industrious young men, many of whom had not before known
even the rudiments of military technique. Both Marshal Haig and General
Pétain 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.


AMERICAN ZONE

The eventual place the American Army should take on the western front
was to a large extent influenced by the vital questions of communication
and supply. The northern ports of France were crowded by the British
Armies' shipping and supplies, while the southern ports, though
otherwise at our service, had not adequate port facilities for our
purposes, and these we should have to build. The already overtaxed
railway system behind the active front in Northern France would not be
available for us as lines of supply, and those leading from the southern
ports of Northeastern France would be unequal to our needs without much
new construction. Practically all warehouses, supply depots, and
regulating stations must be provided by fresh constructions. While
France offered us such material as she had to spare after a drain of
three years, enormous quantities of material had to be brought across
the Atlantic.

With such a problem any 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 programme 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 Châteauroux, so
that our armies could be supplied with equal facility wherever they
might be serving on the western front.


GROWTH OF SUPPLY SERVICE

To build up such a system there were talented men in the Regular Army,
but more experts were necessary than the army could furnish. Thanks to
the patriotic spirit of our people at home, there came from civil life
men trained for every sort of work involved in building and managing the
organization necessary to handle and transport such an army and keep it
supplied. With such assistance the construction and general development
of our plans have kept pace with the growth of the forces, and the
Service of Supply is now able to discharge from ships and move 45,000
tons daily, besides transporting troops and material in the conduct of
active operations.

As to organization, all the administrative and supply services, except
the Adjutant General's, Inspector General's, and Judge Advocate
General's Departments, which remain at general headquarters, have been
transferred to the headquarters of the services of supplies at Tours
under a commanding General responsible to the Commander-in-Chief for
supply of the armies. The Chief Quartermaster, Chief Surgeon, Chief
Signal Officer, Chief of Ordnance, Chief of Air Service, Chief of
Chemical Warfare, the general purchasing agent in all that pertains to
questions of procurement and supply, the Provost Marshal General in the
maintenance of order in general, the Director General of Transportation
in all that affects such matters, and the Chief Engineer in all matters
of administration and supply, are subordinate to the Commanding General
of the Service of Supply, who, assisted by a staff especially organized
for the purpose, is charged with the administrative co-ordination of all
these services.

The transportation department under the Service of Supply directs the
operation, maintenance, and construction of railways, the operation of
terminals, the unloading of ships, and transportation of material to
warehouses or to the front. Its functions make necessary the most
intimate relationship between our organization and that of the French,
with the practical result that our transportation department has been
able to improve materially the operations of railways generally.
Constantly laboring under a shortage of rolling stock, the
transportation department has nevertheless been able by efficient
management to meet every emergency.

The Engineer Corps is charged with all construction, including light
railways and roads. It has planned and constructed the many projects
required, the most important of which are the new wharves at Bordeaux
and Nantes, and the immense storage depots at La Pallice, Mointoir, and
Glèvres, besides innumerable hospitals and barracks in various ports of
France. These projects have all been carried on by phases keeping pace
with our needs. The Forestry Service under the Engineer Corps has cut
the greater part of the timber and railway ties required.

To meet the shortage of supplies from America, due to lack of shipping,
the representatives of the different supply departments were constantly
in search of available material and supplies in Europe. In order to
co-ordinate these purchases and to prevent competition between our
departments, a general purchasing agency was created early in our
experience to co-ordinate our purchases and, if possible, induce our
allies to apply the principle among the allied armies. While there was
no authority for the general use of appropriations, this was met by
grouping the purchasing representatives of the different departments
under one control, charged with the duty of consolidating requisitions
and purchases. Our efforts to extend the principle have been signally
successful, and all purchases for the allied armies are now on an
equitable and co-operative basis. Indeed, it may be said that the work
of this bureau has been thoroughly efficient and businesslike.


ARTILLERY, AIRPLANES, 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 G. P. F. 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 calibres mentioned manufactured in America on
our front at the date the armistice was signed. The only guns of these
types produced at home thus far received in France are 109 seventy-five
millimeter guns.

In aviation we were in the same situation, and here again the French
Government came to our aid until our own aviation programme should be
under way. We obtained from the French the necessary planes for training
our personnel, and they have provided us with a total of 2,676 pursuit,
observation, and bombing planes. The first airplanes received from home
arrived in May, and altogether we have received 1,379. The first
American squadron completely equipped by American production, including
airplanes, crossed the German lines on Aug. 7, 1918. As to tanks, we
were also compelled to rely upon the French. Here, however, we were less
fortunate, for the reason that the French production could barely meet
the requirements of their own armies.

It should be fully realized that the French Government has always taken
a most liberal attitude, and has been most anxious to give us every
possible assistance in meeting our deficiencies in these as well as in
other respects. Our dependence upon France for artillery, aviation, and
tanks was, of course, due to the fact that our industries had not been
exclusively devoted to military production. All credit is due our own
manufacturers for their efforts to meet our requirements, as at the time
the armistice was signed we were able to look forward to the early
supply of practically all our necessities from our own factories.

The welfare of the troops touches my responsibility as Commander in
Chief to the mothers and fathers and kindred of the men who came to
France in the impressionable period of youth. They could not have the
privilege accorded European soldiers during their periods of leave of
visiting their families and renewing their home ties. Fully realizing
that the standard of conduct that should be established for them must
have a permanent influence in their lives and on the character of their
future citizenship, the Red Cross, the Young Men's Christian
Association, Knights of Columbus, the Salvation Army, and the Jewish
Welfare Board, as 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 their high ideals, their discipline, and their
innate sense of self-respect. It should be recorded, however, that the
members of these welfare societies have been untiring in their desire to
be of real service to our officers and men. The patriotic devotion of
these representative men and women has given a new significance to the
Golden Rule, and we owe to them a debt of gratitude that can never be
repaid.


COMBAT OPERATIONS

During our period of training in the trenches some of our divisions had
engaged the enemy in local combats, the most important of which was
Seicheprey by the 26th on April 20, in the Toul sector, but none had
participated in action as a unit. The 1st Division, which had passed
through the preliminary stages of training, had gone to the trenches for
its first period of instruction at the end of October, and by March 21,
when the German offensive in Picardy began, we had four divisions with
experience in the trenches, all of which were equal to any demands of
battle action. The crisis which this offensive developed was such that
our occupation of an American sector must be postponed.

On March 28 I placed at the disposal of Marshal Foch, who had been
agreed upon as Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies, all of our
forces, to be used as he might decide. At his request the 1st Division
was transferred from the Toul sector to a position in reserve at
Chaumont en Vexin. As German superiority in numbers required prompt
action, an agreement was reached at the Abbeville conference of the
allied Premiers and commanders and myself on May 2 by which British
shipping was to transport ten American divisions to the British Army
area, where they were to be trained and equipped, and additional British
shipping was to be provided for as many divisions as possible for use
elsewhere.

On April 26 the 1st Division had gone into the line in the Montdidier
salient on the Picardy battle-front. 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.


HOLDING THE MARNE

The Germans' Aisne offensive, which began on May 27, had advanced
rapidly toward the River Marne and Paris, and the Allies faced a crisis
equally as grave as that of the Picardy offensive in March. Again every
available man was placed at Marshal Foch's disposal, and the 3d
Division, which had just come from its preliminary training in the
trenches, was hurried to the Marne. Its motorized machine-gun battalion
preceded the other units and successfully held the bridgehead at the
Marne, opposite Château-Thierry. The 2d Division, in reserve near
Montdidier, was sent by motor trucks and other available transport to
check the progress of the enemy toward Paris. The division attacked and
retook the town and railroad station at Bouresches and sturdily held its
ground against the enemy's best guard divisions. In the battle of
Belleau Wood, which followed, our men proved their superiority and
gained a strong tactical position, with far greater loss to the enemy
than to ourselves. On July 1, before the 2d was relieved, it captured
the village of Vaux with most splendid precision.

Meanwhile our 2d Corps, under Major Gen. George W. Read, had been
organized for the command of our divisions with the British, which were
held back in training areas or assigned to second-line defenses. Five of
the ten divisions were withdrawn from the British area in June, three to
relieve divisions in Lorraine, and in the Vosges and two to the Paris
area to join the group of American divisions which stood between the
city and any further advance of the enemy in that direction.

The great June-July troop movement from the States was well under way,
and, although these troops were to be given some preliminary training
before being put into action, their very presence warranted the use of
all the older divisions in the confidence that we did not lack reserves.
Elements of the 42d Division were in the line east of Rheims against the
German offensive of July 15, and held their ground unflinchingly. On the
right flank of this offensive four companies of the 28th Division were
in position in face of the advancing waves of the German infantry. The
3d Division was holding the bank of the Marne from the bend east of the
mouth of the Surmelin to the west of Mézy, opposite Château-Thierry,
where a large force of German infantry sought to force a passage under
support of powerful artillery concentrations and under cover of smoke
screens. A single regiment of the 3d wrote one of the most brilliant
pages in our military annals on this occasion. It prevented the crossing
at certain points on its front while, on either flank, the Germans, who
had gained a footing, pressed forward. Our men, firing in three
directions, met the German attacks with counter-attacks at critical
points and succeeded in throwing two German divisions into complete
confusion, capturing 600 prisoners.


OFFENSIVE OF JULY 18

The great force of the German Château-Thierry offensive established the
deep Marne salient, but the enemy was taking chances, and the
vulnerability of this pocket to attack might be turned to his
disadvantage. Seizing this opportunity to support my conviction, every
division with any sort of training was made available for use in a
counter-offensive. The place of honor in the thrust toward Soissons on
July 18 was given to our 1st and 2d Divisions in company with chosen
French divisions. Without the usual brief warning of a preliminary
bombardment, the massed French and American artillery, firing by the
map, laid down its rolling barrage at dawn while the infantry began its
charge. The tactical handling of our troops under these trying
conditions was excellent throughout the action. The enemy brought up
large numbers of reserves and made a stubborn defense both with machine
guns and artillery, but through five days' fighting the 1st Division
continued to advance until it had gained the heights above Soissons and
captured the village of Berzy-le-Sec. The 2d Division took Beau Repaire
Farm and Vierzy in a very rapid advance and reached a position in front
of Tigny at the end of its second day. These two divisions captured
7,000 prisoners and over 100 pieces of artillery.

The 26th Division, which, with a French division, was under command of
our 1st Corps, acted as a pivot of the movement toward Soissons. On the
18th it took the village of Torcy, while the 3d Division was crossing
the Marne in pursuit of the retiring enemy. The 26th attacked again on
the 21st, and the enemy withdrew past the Château-Thierry-Soissons road.
The 3d Division, continuing its progress, took the heights of Mont St.
Père and the villages of Chartèves and Jaulgonne in the face of both
machine-gun and artillery fire.

On the 24th, after the Germans had fallen back from Trugny and Epieds,
our 42d Division, which had been brought over from the Champagne,
relieved the 26th, and, fighting its way through the Forêt de Fère,
overwhelmed the nest of machine guns in its path. By the 27th it had
reached the Ourcq, whence the 3d and 4th Divisions were already
advancing, while the French divisions with which we were co-operating
were moving forward at other points.

The 3d Division had made its advance into Ronchères Wood on the 29th and
was relieved for rest by a brigade of the 32d. The 42d and 32d undertook
the task of conquering the heights beyond Cierges, the 42d capturing
Sergy and the 32d capturing Hill 230, both American divisions joining in
the pursuit of the enemy to the Vesle, and thus the operation of
reducing the salient was finished. Meanwhile the 42d was relieved by the
4th at Chéry-Chartreuve, and the 32d by the 28th, while the 77th
Division took up a position on the Vesle. The operations of these
divisions on the Vesle were under the 3d Corps, Major Gen. Robert L.
Bullard commanding.


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 Aug. 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 Aug. 30, the line
beginning at Port sur Seille, east of the Moselle and extending to the
west through St. Mihiel, thence north to a point opposite Verdun, was
placed under my command. The American sector was afterward extended
across the Meuse to the western edge of the Argonne Forest, and
included the 2d Colonial French, which held the point of the salient,
and the 17th French Corps, which occupied the heights above Verdun.

The preparation for a complicated operation against the formidable
defenses in front of us included the assembling of divisions and of
corps and army artillery, transport, aircraft, tanks, ambulances, the
location of hospitals, and the molding together of all the elements of a
great modern army with its own railheads, supplied directly by our own
Service of Supply. The concentration for this operation, which was to be
a surprise, involved the movement, mostly at night, of approximately
600,000 troops, and required for its success the most careful attention
to every detail.

The French were generous in giving us assistance in corps and army
artillery, with its personnel, and we were confident from the start of
our superiority over the enemy in guns of all calibres. Our heavy guns
were able to reach Metz and to interfere seriously with German rail
movements. The French Independent Air Force was placed under my command,
which, together with the British bombing squadrons and our air forces,
gave us the largest assembly of aviators that had ever been engaged in
one operation on the western front.

From Les Eparges around the nose of the salient at St. Mihiel to the
Moselle River the line was, roughly, forty miles long and situated on
commanding ground greatly strengthened by artificial defenses. Our 1st
Corps (82d, 90th, 5th, and 2d Divisions), under command of Major Gen.
Hunter Liggett, resting its right on Pont-à-Mousson, with its left
joining our 3d Corps (the 89th, 42d, and 1st Divisions), under Major
Gen. Joseph T. Dickman, in line to Xivray, was to swing toward
Vigneulles on the pivot of the Moselle River for the initial assault.
From Xivray to Mouilly the 2d Colonial French Corps was in line in the
centre, and our 5th Corps, under command of Major Gen. George H.
Cameron, with our 26th Division and a French division at the western
base of the salient, was to attack three difficult hills--Les Eparges,
Combres, and Amaranthe. Our 1st Corps had in reserve the 78th Division,
our 4th Corps the 3d Division, and our First Army the 35th and 91st
Divisions, with the 80th and 33d available. It should be understood that
our corps organizations are very elastic, and that we have at no time
had permanent assignments of divisions to corps.

After four hours' artillery preparation, the seven American divisions in
the front line advanced at 5 A. M. on Sept. 12, assisted by a limited
number of tanks, manned partly by Americans and partly by French. These
divisions, accompanied by groups of wire cutters and others armed with
bangalore torpedoes, went through the successive bands of barbed wire
that protected the enemy's front-line and support trenches in
irresistible waves on schedule time, breaking down all defense of an
enemy demoralized by the great volume of our artillery fire and our
sudden approach out of the fog.

Our 1st Corps advanced to Thiaucourt, while our 4th Corps curved back to
the southwest through Nonsard. The 2d Colonial French Corps made the
slight advance required of it on very difficult ground, and the 5th
Corps took its three ridges and repulsed a counterattack. A rapid march
brought reserve regiments of a division of the 5th Corps into Vigneulles
and beyond Fresnes-en-Woevre. At the cost of only 7,000 casualties,
mostly light, we had taken 16,000 prisoners and 443 guns, a great
quantity of material, released the inhabitants of many villages from
enemy domination, and established our lines in a position to threaten
Metz. This signal success of the American First Army in its first
offensive was of prime importance. The Allies found they had a
formidable army to aid them, and the enemy learned finally that he had
one to reckon with.


MEUSE-ARGONNE OFFENSIVE, FIRST PHASE

On the day after we had taken the St. Mihiel salient much of our corps
and army artillery which had operated at St. Mihiel, and our divisions
in reserve at other points, were already on the move toward the area
back of the line between the Meuse River and the western edge of the
Forest of Argonne. With the exception of St. Mihiel the old German front
line from Switzerland to the east of Rheims was still intact. In the
general attack all along the line the operations assigned the American
Army as the hinge of this allied offensive were directed toward the
important railroad communications of the German armies through Mézières
and Sedan. The enemy must hold fast to this part of his lines, or the
withdrawal of his forces, with four years' accumulation of plants and
material, would be dangerously imperiled.

The German Army had as yet shown no demoralization, and, while the mass
of its troops had suffered in morale, its first-class divisions, and
notably its machine-gun defense, were exhibiting remarkable tactical
efficiency as well as courage. The German General Staff was fully aware
of the consequences of a success on the Meuse-Argonne line. Certain that
he would do everything in his power to oppose us, the action was planned
with as much secrecy as possible and was undertaken with the
determination to use all our divisions in forcing decision. We expected
to draw the best German divisions to our front and to consume them while
the enemy was held under grave apprehension lest our attack should break
his line, which it was our firm purpose to do.

Our right flank was protected by the Meuse, while our left embraced the
Argonne Forest, whose ravines, hills, and elaborate defense, screened by
dense thickets, had been generally considered impregnable. Our order of
battle from right to left was the 3d Corps from the Meuse to Malancourt,
with the 33d, 80th, and 4th Divisions in line and the 3d Division as
corps reserve; the 5th Corps from Malancourt to Vauquois, with the 79th,
87th, and 91st Divisions in line and the 32d in corps reserve, and the
1st Corps from Vauquois to Vienne le Château, with the 35th, 28th, and
77th Divisions in line and the 92d in corps reserve. The army reserve
consisted of the 1st, 29th, and 82d Divisions.

On the night of Sept. 25 our troops quietly took the place of the
French, who thinly held the line in this sector, which had long been
inactive. In the attack which began on the 26th we drove through the
barbed-wire entanglements and the sea of shell craters across No Man's
Land, mastering all the first-line defenses. Continuing on the 27th and
28th, against machine guns and artillery of an increasing number of
enemy reserve divisions, we penetrated to a depth of from three to seven
miles and took the village of Montfaucon and its commanding hill and
Exermont, Gercourt, Cuisy, Septsarges, Malancourt, Ivoiry, Epinonville,
Charpentry, Very, and other villages. East of the Meuse one of our
divisions, which was with the 2d Colonial French Corps, captured
Marcheville and Rieville, giving further protection to the flank of our
main body. We had taken 10,000 prisoners, we had gained our point of
forcing the battle into the open, and were prepared for the enemy's
reaction, which was bound to come, as he had good roads and ample
railroad facilities for bringing up his artillery and reserves.

In the chill rain of dark nights our engineers had to build new roads
across spongy, shell-torn areas, repair broken roads beyond No Man's
Land, and build bridges. Our gunners, with no thought of sleep, put
their shoulders to wheels and drag ropes to bring their guns through the
mire in support of the infantry, now under the increasing fire of the
enemy's artillery. Our attack had taken the enemy by surprise, but,
quickly recovering himself, he began to fire counter-attacks in strong
force, supported by heavy bombardments, with large quantities of gas.
From Sept. 28 until Oct. 4 we maintained the offensive against patches
of woods defended by snipers and continuous lines of machine guns, and
pushed forward our guns and transport, seizing strategical points in
preparation for further attacks.


OTHER UNITS WITH ALLIES

Other divisions attached to the allied armies were doing their part. It
was the fortune of our 2d Corps, composed of the 27th and 30th
Divisions, which had remained with the British, to have a place of honor
in co-operation with the Australian Corps on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 in the
assault on the Hindenburg line where the St. Quentin Canal passes
through a tunnel under a ridge. The 30th Division speedily broke through
the main line of defense for all its objectives, while the 27th pushed
on impetuously through the main line until some of its elements reached
Gouy. In the midst of the maze of trenches and shell craters and under
crossfire from machine guns the other elements fought desperately
against odds. In this and in later actions, from Oct. 6 to Oct. 19, our
2d Corps captured over 6,000 prisoners and advanced over thirteen miles.
The spirit and aggressiveness of these divisions have been highly
praised by the British Army commander under whom they served.

On Oct. 2-9 our 2d and 36th Divisions were sent to assist the French in
an important attack against the old German positions before Rheims. The
2d conquered the complicated defense works on their front against a
persistent defense worthy of the grimmest period of trench warfare and
attacked the strongly held wooded hill of Blanc Mont, which they
captured in a second assault, sweeping over it with consummate dash and
skill. This division then repulsed strong counter-attacks before the
village and cemetery of Ste. Etienne and took the town, forcing the
Germans to fall back from before Rheims and yield positions they had
held since September, 1914. On Oct. 9 the 36th Division relieved the 2d,
and in its first experience under fire withstood very severe artillery
bombardment and rapidly took up the pursuit of the enemy, now retiring
behind the Aisne.


MEUSE-ARGONNE OFFENSIVE, SECOND PHASE

The allied progress elsewhere cheered the efforts of our men in this
crucial contest, as the German command threw in more and more
first-class troops to stop our advance. We made steady headway in the
almost impenetrable and strongly held Argonne Forest, for, despite this
reinforcement, it was our army that was doing the driving. Our aircraft
was increasing in skill and numbers and forcing the issue, and our
infantry and artillery were improving rapidly with each new experience.
The replacements fresh from home were put into exhausted divisions with
little time for training, but they had the advantage of serving beside
men who knew their business and who had almost become veterans
overnight. The enemy had taken every advantage of the terrain, which
especially favored the defense, by a prodigal use of machine guns manned
by highly trained veterans and by using his artillery at short ranges.
In the face of such strong frontal positions we should have been unable
to accomplish any progress according to previously accepted standards,
but I had every confidence in our aggressive tactics and the courage of
our troops.

On Oct. 4 the attack was renewed all along our front. The 3d Corps,
tilting to the left, followed the Brieulles-Cunel road; our 5th Corps
took Gesnes, while the 1st Corps advanced for over two miles along the
irregular valley of the Aire River and in the wooded hills of the
Argonne that bordered the river, used by the enemy with all his art and
weapons of defense. This sort of fighting continued against an enemy
striving to hold every foot of ground and whose very strong
counter-attacks challenged us at every point. On the 7th the 1st Corps
captured Chatal-Chênéry and continued along the river to Cornay. On the
east of Meuse sector one of the two divisions, co-operating with the
French, captured Consenvoye and the Haumont Woods. On the 9th the 5th
Corps, in its progress up the Aire, took Flêville, and the 3d Corps,
which had continuous fighting against odds, was working its way through
Brieulles and Cunel. On the 10th we had cleared the Argonne Forest of
the enemy.

It was now necessary to constitute a second army, and on Oct. 9 the
immediate command of the First Army was turned over to Lieut. Gen.
Hunter Liggett. The command of the Second Army, whose divisions
occupied a sector in the Woevre, was given to Lieut. Gen. Robert L.
Bullard, who had been commander of the 1st Division and then of the 3d
Corps. Major Gen. Dickman was transferred to the command of the 1st
Corps, while the 5th Corps was placed under Major Gen. Charles P.
Summerall, who had recently commanded the 1st Division. Major Gen. John
L. Hines, who had gone rapidly up from regimental to division commander,
was assigned to the 3d Corps. These four officers had been in France
from the early days of the expedition and had learned their lessons in
the school of practical warfare.

Our constant pressure against the enemy brought day by day more
prisoners, mostly survivors from machine-gun nests captured in fighting
at close quarters. On Oct. 18 there was very fierce fighting in the
Caures Woods east of the Meuse and in the Ormont Woods. On the 14th the
1st Corps took St. Juvin, and the 5th Corps, in hand-to-hand encounters,
entered the formidable Kriemhilde line, where the enemy had hoped to
check us indefinitely. Later the 5th Corps penetrated further the
Kriemhilde line, and the 1st Corps took Champigneulles and the important
town of Grandpré. Our dogged offensive was wearing down the enemy, who
continued desperately to throw his best troops against us, thus
weakening his line in front of our allies and making their advance less
difficult.


DIVISIONS IN BELGIUM

Meanwhile we were not only able to continue the battle, but our 37th and
91st Divisions were hastily withdrawn from our front and dispatched to
help the French Army in Belgium. Detraining in the neighborhood of
Ypres, these divisions advanced by rapid stages to the fighting line and
were assigned to adjacent French corps. On Oct. 31, in continuation of
the Flanders offensive, they attacked and methodically broke down all
enemy resistance. On Nov. 3 the 37th had completed its mission in
dividing the enemy across the Escaut River and firmly established itself
along the east bank included in the division zone of action. By a clever
flanking movement troops of the 91st Division captured Spitaals
Bosschen, a difficult wood extending across the central part of the
division sector, reached the Escaut, and penetrated into the town of
Audenarde. These divisions received high commendation from their corps
commanders for their dash and energy.


MEUSE-ARGONNE--LAST PHASE

On the 23d the 3d and 5th Corps pushed northward to the level of
Banthéville. While we continued to press forward and throw back the
enemy's violent counter-attacks with great loss to him, a regrouping of
our forces was under way for the final assault. Evidences of loss of
morale by the enemy gave our men more confidence in attack and more
fortitude in enduring the fatigue of incessant effort and the hardships
of very inclement weather.

With comparatively well-rested divisions, the final advance in the
Meuse-Argonne front was begun on Nov. 1. Our increased artillery force
acquitted itself magnificently in support of the advance, and the enemy
broke before the determined infantry, which, by its persistent fighting
of the past weeks and the dash of this attack, had overcome his will to
resist. The 3d Corps took Ancreville, Doulcon, and Andevanne, and the
5th Corps took Landres et St. Georges and pressed through successive
lines of resistance to Bayonville and Chennery. On the 2d the 1st Corps
joined in the movement, which now became an impetuous onslaught that
could not be stayed.

On the 3d advance troops surged forward in pursuit, some by motor
trucks, while the artillery pressed along the country roads close
behind. The 1st Corps reached Authe and Châtillon-sur-Bar, the 5th
Corps, Fosse and Nouart, and the 3d Corps, Halles, penetrating the
enemy's line to a depth of twelve miles. Our large-calibre guns had
advanced and were skillfully brought into position to fire upon the
important lines at Montmedy, Longuyon, and Conflans. Our 3d Corps
crossed the Meuse on the 5th, and the other corps, in the full
confidence that the day was theirs, eagerly cleared the way of machine
guns as they swept northward, maintaining complete co-ordination
throughout. On the 6th a division of the 1st Corps reached a point on
the Meuse opposite Sedan, twenty-five miles from our line of departure.
The strategical goal which was our highest hope was gained. We had cut
the enemy's main line of communications, and nothing but surrender or an
armistice could save his army from complete disaster.

In all forty enemy divisions had been used against us in the
Meuse-Argonne battle. Between Sept. 26 and Nov. 6 we took 26,059
prisoners and 468 guns on this front. Our divisions engaged were the
1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 32d, 33d, 35th, 37th, 42d,
77th, 78th, 79th, 80th, 82d, 89th, 90th, and 91st. Many of our divisions
remained in line for a length of time that required nerves of steel,
while others were sent in again after only a few days of rest. The 1st,
5th, 26th, 42d, 77th, 80th, 89th, and 90th were in the line twice.
Although some of the divisions were fighting their first battle, they
soon became equal to the best.


EAST OF THE MEUSE

On the three days preceding Nov. 10, the 3d, the 2d Colonial, and the
17th French Corps fought a difficult struggle through the Meuse hills
south of Stenay and forced the enemy into the plain. Meanwhile, my plans
for further use of the American forces contemplated an advance between
the Meuse and the Moselle in the direction of Longwy by the First Army,
while, at the same time, the Second Army should assure the offensive
toward the rich coal fields of Briey. These operations were to be
followed by an offensive toward Château-Salins east of the Moselle, thus
isolating Metz. Accordingly, attacks on the American front had been
ordered, and that of the Second Army was in progress on the morning of
Nov. 11 when instructions were received that hostilities should cease at
11 o'clock A. M.

At this moment the line of the American sector, from right to left,
began at Port-sur-Seille, thence across the Moselle to Vandières and
through the Woevre to Bezonvaux, in the foothills of the Meuse, thence
along to the foothills and through the northern edge of the Woevre
forests to the Meuse at Mouzay, thence along the Meuse connecting with
the French under Sedan.


RELATIONS WITH THE ALLIES

Co-operation among the Allies has at all times been most cordial. A far
greater effort has been put forth by the allied armies and staffs to
assist us than could have been expected. The French Government and Army
have always stood ready to furnish us with supplies, equipment, and
transportation, and to aid us in every way. In the towns and hamlets
wherever our troops have been stationed or billeted the French people
have everywhere received them more as relatives and intimate friends
than as soldiers of a foreign army. For these things words are quite
inadequate to express our gratitude. There can be no doubt that the
relations growing out of our associations here assure a permanent
friendship between the two peoples. Although we have not been so
intimately associated with the people of Great Britain, yet their troops
and ours when thrown together have always warmly fraternized. The
reception of those of our forces who have passed through England and of
those who have been stationed there has always been enthusiastic.
Altogether it has been deeply impressed upon us that the ties of
language and blood bring the British and ourselves together completely
and inseparably.


STRENGTH

There are in Europe altogether, including a regiment and some sanitary
units with the Italian Army and the organizations at Murmansk, also
including those en route from the States, approximately 2,053,347 men,
less our losses. Of this total there are in France 1,338,169 combatant
troops. Forty divisions have arrived, of which the infantry personnel of
ten have been used as replacements, leaving thirty divisions now in
France organized into three armies of three corps each.

The losses of the Americans up to Nov. 18 are: Killed and wounded,
36,145; died of disease, 14,811; deaths unclassified, 2,204; wounded,
179,625; prisoners, 2,163; missing, 1,160. We have captured about 44,000
prisoners and 1,400 guns, howitzers, and trench mortars.

COMMENDATION

The duties of the General Staff, as well as those of the army and corps
staffs, have been very ably performed. Especially is this true when we
consider the new and difficult problems with which they have been
confronted. This body of officers, both as individuals and as an
organization, has, I believe, no superiors in professional ability, in
efficiency, or in loyalty.

Nothing that we have in France better reflects the efficiency and
devotion to duty of Americans in general than the Service of Supply,
whose personnel is thoroughly imbued with a patriotic desire to do its
full duty. They have at all times fully appreciated their responsibility
to the rest of the army, and the results produced have been most
gratifying.

Our Medical Corps is especially entitled to praise for the general
effectiveness of its work, both in hospital and at the front. Embracing
men of high professional attainments, and splendid women devoted to
their calling and untiring in their efforts, this department has made a
new record for medical and sanitary proficiency.

The Quartermaster Department has had difficult and various tasks, but it
has more than met all demands that have been made upon it. Its
management and its personnel have been exceptionally efficient and
deserve every possible commendation.

As to the more technical services, the able personnel of the Ordnance
Department in France has splendidly fulfilled its functions, both in
procurement and in forwarding the immense quantities of ordnance
required. The officers and men and the young women of the Signal Corps
have performed their duties with a large conception of the problem, and
with a devoted and patriotic spirit to which the perfection of our
communications daily testifies. While the Engineer Corps has been
referred to in another part of this report, it should be further stated
that the work has required large vision and high professional skill, and
great credit is due their personnel for the high proficiency that they
have constantly maintained.

Our aviators have no equals in daring or in fighting ability, and have
left a record of courageous deeds that will ever remain a brilliant page
in the annals of our army. While the Tank Corps has had limited
opportunities, its personnel has responded gallantly on every possible
occasion, and has shown courage of the highest order.

The Adjutant General's Department has been directed with a systematic
thoroughness and excellence that surpassed any previous work of its
kind. The Inspector General's Department has risen to the highest
standards, and throughout has ably assisted commanders in the
enforcement of discipline. The able personnel of the Judge Advocate
General's Department has solved with judgment and wisdom the multitude
of difficult legal problems, many of them involving questions of great
international importance.

It would be impossible in this brief preliminary report to do justice to
the personnel of all the different branches of this organization, which
I shall cover in detail in a later report.

The navy in European waters has at all times most cordially aided the
army, and it is most gratifying to report that there has never before
been such perfect co-operation between these two branches of the
service.

As to the Americans in Europe not in the military service, it is the
greatest pleasure to say that, both in official and in private life,
they are intensely patriotic and loyal, and have been invariably
sympathetic and helpful to the army.

Finally, I pay the supreme tribute to our officers and soldiers of the
line. When I think of their heroism, their patience under hardships,
their unflinching spirit of offensive action, I am filled with emotion
which I am unable to express. Their deeds are immortal, and they have
earned the eternal gratitude of our country.

I am, Mr. Secretary, very respectfully,

JOHN J. PERSHING,

_General, Commander in Chief,
American Expeditionary Forces._

To the Secretary of War.





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