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Title: The Americans in the Great War; v. 3 The Meuse-Argonne Battlefields
Author: Michelin & Cie
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Americans in the Great War; v. 3 The Meuse-Argonne Battlefields" ***

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                    TO THE BATTLEFIELDS (1914-1918)

                             THE AMERICANS
                                IN THE
                               GREAT WAR

                              VOLUME III.

                         MEUSE-ARGONNE BATTLE

                   MICHELIN & Cie., CLERMONT-FERRAND
         MICHELIN TYRE Co. Ltd., 81 Fulham Road, LONDON, S. W.
             MICHELIN TIRE Co., MILLTOWN, N. J., U. S. A.

[Illustration: You don’t know what a Good Road Map is, if you haven’t
used the Michelin Map

SCALE: 1: 200.000 (3·15 Miles to the inch.)

On Sale at Michelin Stockists and Booksellers

The tourist finds his way about easily _in a town_, if he has a plan
giving the names of the streets.

He gets about with the same ease and certainty _on the road_, if he has
a =Michelin Map=, because it gives the numbers of all the roads.]

The Michelin Wheel

BEST of all detachable wheels because the least complicated



     It embellishes even the finest coachwork.


     It is detachable at the hub and fixed by six bolts only.


     The only wheel which held out on all fronts during the war.


     Can be replaced in 3 minutes by _anybody_ and cleaned still

     It prolongs the life of tires by cooling them.


       *       *       *       *       *



The “Touring Club de France” (founded in 1890), is at the present time
the largest Touring Association in the whole world. Its principal aim is
to introduce France--admirable country and one of the loveliest on
earth--to French people themselves and to foreigners.

It seeks to develop travel in all its forms--on foot, on horseback, on
bicycle, in carriage, motor, yacht or railway, and soon in aeroplane.

Every member of the Association receives a badge and an identity ticket
free of charge, also the “Revue Mensuelle” every month.

Members have also the benefit of special prices in a certain number of
affiliated hotels; and this holds good for the purchase of guide-books
and Staff (Etat-major) maps, as well as those of the “Ministère de
l’Interieur,” the T. C. F., etc. They may insert notices regarding the
sale or purchase of traveling requisites in the “Revue” (1 fr. per
line). The “Comité des Contentieux” is ready to give them counsel with
regard to travelling, and 3,000 delegates in all the principal towns are
able to give them advice and information about the curiosities of art or
of nature in the neighborhood, as well as concerning the roads, hotels,
motor-agents, garages, etc.

Members are accorded free passage across the frontier for a bicycle or
motor-bicycle. For a motor-car the Association gives a “Triptyque”
ensuring free passage through the “douane,” etc.


            |               IN MEMORY                   |

                             THE AMERICANS
                                IN THE
                               GREAT WAR

                              VOLUME III.

                    The Meuse-Argonne Battlefields

                            _Published by_
              Michelin & Cie, Clermont-Ferrand, (France)

                  Copyright, 1920, by Michelin & Cie

        _All rights of translation, adaptation or reproduction_
                    (_in part or whole_), _reserved
                          in all countries._


As in the two preceding volumes of “Americans in the Great War,” no
attempt is made in this third volume to describe the military
engagements in great detail. It was thought better to illustrate the
ruin and devastation caused by the great struggle, rather than to dwell
too long on the actual hostilities. This object has been attained by
securing a great number of carefully selected and exclusive photographs
and maps, all of which are published in this volume, together with
necessary descriptive text. Like its predecessors this volume is not a
military treatise but a guide book.

Nevertheless, it is the duty of the author as well as a great pleasure
to hesitate long enough at this moment to say a word in appreciation of
the invaluable service rendered to France and to civilization by the
valiant American soldiers.

It was during the period covered in the pages following that the
American Army reached its maximum fighting strength, and achieved its
greatest military triumphs.

The splendid fighting spirit of the troops was remarked by all, and
their fine comradeship, both on the firing line and at rest, won the
widest possible admiration. Furthermore, the seasoned military experts
who had been engaged in the war for four long years were amazed to
discover with what remarkable rapidity the American soldiers and their
high spirited officers had adapted themselves to the art of war.

In the words of Marshal Foch: “As for the American troops you may tell
your people that they are admirable. They can be reproached only with
going ahead too fast!”

The Meuse-Argonne campaign ended with the signing of the Armistice on
November 11, 1918. Marshal Joffre in a speech of thanksgiving said: “I
am proud to have been the sponsor of the noble American Army, which has
been the determining cause of our present victory.”




The present volume--No. 3 of the series: “The Americans in the Great
War”--see Volumes 1 (“The Second Battle of the Marne”) and 2 (“The
Battles of St. Mihiel”)--deals with the Argonne proper and with the
Marshes of the Argonne, that is to say, the greater part of the country
lying between the Battlefields of Champagne and Verdun, described in the
Michelin Guides: “The Battles of Champagne” and “Verdun.”

The Argonne was never independent, administratively or politically. It
has always been attached to a neighbouring State, large or small.
Originally a border-land between Champagne and Lorraine, it belonged
formerly to the three Bishoprics of Châlons, Rheims, and Verdun. Later
it became the Comté of Argonne, with Sainte-Menehould as capital, but
remained tributary to the three bishoprics. After the annexation of
Champagne, the King of France and the Duke of Lorraine each took that
part of the Argonne bordering on his territory. Later it was divided
between the Province of Champagne, the Duchy of Bar, and the Duchy of

With the exception of several lateral valleys which divide it into
sections difficult of access to one another, the Argonne, covered with
thick forests, and for long roadless, presented an all but insuperable
obstacle to military operations. These valleys, or defiles, considered
from north to south, are: the passes of Chesne Populeux, Croix-aux-Bois,
Grandpré, Chalade, and Les Islettes. These five passes, famous since the
campaign of 1792, which ended in the French victory of Valmy, have often
been disputed.


The Argonne Campaign of 1792

At the end of August, 1792, General Dumouriez--in face of the rapid
advance of the Prussians, who were besieging Verdun, and of the
Austrians, who were drawing near Stenay--was forced to abandon his
proposed offensive in Belgium, and continue on the defensive. Divining
the intentions of the enemy to reach first the Aisne and then Châlons,
in order to march on Paris, he decided to block the roads from Lorraine
into Champagne by a defence of the Argonne. On September 1, he marched
from Sedan on Grandpré, whence on the 3rd he despatched a detachment
against St. Juvin. With his right resting on the Plateau de Marcq, his
left on Grandpré, and his artillery parked at Senuc, he took up his
headquarters at the Château of Grandpré, the property of one of his
friends, Semonville. His lieutenant, Dillon, occupied Les Islettes and
the course of the Biesme as far as Passavant-en-Argonne, with
headquarters at Grange-aux-Bois. General Kellermann was marching to join
Dumouriez, and arrived by the Toul-Bar road. At the call of Dumouriez,
the inhabitants of the districts of Clermont and Bar retired to the
forests of the Argonne with all the provisions and supplies which they
could carry with them.

On September 7, the Duke of Brunswick and the King of Prussia viewed the
Pass of Les Islettes and the high ground of the Biesme from the summit
of Clermont Hill. Judging their capture impossible, or too costly, they
preferred to turn the position by forcing one of the three other passes
held by Dumouriez: Grandpré, Croix-aux-Bois, or Chesne Populeux. Their
choice fell on the Croix-aux-Bois defile, whose capture was entrusted to
the Austrian General Clerfayt. Meanwhile feint attacks were made on
Briquenay and Marcq, before Les Islettes and Grandpré, in order to
deceive Dumouriez. On the 12th, Clerfayt took the Croix-aux-Bois pass.
One of Dumouriez’s lieutenants, Chazot, recaptured it on the 14th, but
lost it again on the same day, and was obliged to retire. Threatened
with having his position turned and his army surrounded, Dumouriez
decided to retreat immediately, and occupied Termes, Olizy, and
Beaurepaire, in order to protect himself against a possible advance by
Clerfayt. Brunswick sent a messenger with a flag of truce to propose a
parley. Whilst the bearer was vainly waiting in the French outposts at
Marcq for permission to proceed to Dumouriez’s headquarters, the latter,
who had waited till nightfall in order to conceal his movements from the
enemy, struck his camp. At 8 a.m. on the 15th he crossed the Aisne over
the bridges of Senuc and Grand-Ham and marched towards Cernay, thus
saving his army. Chazot’s Division alone, which had received orders to
proceed from Vouziers to join the army at Montcheutin, arrived too late.
Attacked by the Prussian Hussars in the Plain of Montcheutin, it
retreated in confusion, the panic spreading to the rest of the army,
with the exception of the vanguard which held the Prussian Hussars’
advance. Dumouriez, without resorting to extreme measures, endeavoured
to restore the morale of his troops: a few deserters, after having their
heads shaved and having been deprived of their uniforms as unworthy to
wear them, were publicly dismissed the service. The army quickly pulled
itself together, and hastened to make good its previous weakness.

Contrary to the opinion of many, who believed he would retire on Châlons
in order more easily to effect a junction with Kellermann, Dumouriez
decided not to abandon the Sainte-Menehould position. Leaving Dillon’s
advance guard at Chalade, in Les Islettes, and in the south of the
Argonne, he established himself in front of Sainte-Menehould, on the
plateau where Maffrecourt, Chaudefontaine, and Braux-Sainte-Cohière
stand. Thus, while no longer covering the Paris road, he threatened the
rear of the Allies.

Brunswick, who had left Grandpré and was already on the Châlons road,
was forced to stop and face Dumouriez. Fearing that Dumouriez, by
retreating, would once more escape, the King of Prussia, acting hastily
and in opposition to the plans of Brunswick, ordered the march which
brought his army to Valmy. On September 20, his army established itself
opposite Valmy, five miles west of St. Menehould, on the Lune plateau
which crosses the Sainte-Menehould-Châlons road through Auve.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF VALMY (1792)]

The Lune Inn, which then stood by the side of the road near the Lune
crossroads, formed by the junction of the Somme-Bionne and Gizeaucourt
roads, was pulled down about 1854 and the materials used for building
one of the Maigneux farms.

Thanks to the clever dispositions of Dumouriez, who directed General
Stengel to occupy Mont-Yvon (in order to cover Valmy on the right), and
General Chazot to march on the Lune heights (to protect Kellermann’s
left), the latter was able to withstand the enemy assault.

The Prussians decided to attack Valmy, and towards noon their infantry
crossed the valley which lies between the two armies. But the French,
drawn up on the ridge between Moulin and Valmy, under the command of
Kellermann, hurled themselves on the Prussians and drove them back
amidst cries of “Vive la Nation.” Brunswick, disconcerted, stopped the
attack. Kellermann pressed on, while General Stengel held the Austrians
on the right. About 4 o’clock, General Beurnonville came up with
reinforcements, and the battle was won.

On the evening of September 20, Dumouriez and Kellermann, agreeing that
the position was dangerous, decided to evacuate Yvron and Valmy during
the night, to cross the Auve and deploy between Dampierre and Voilemont.
On the 21st, Kellermann, in his new position covered by the Auve and the
Yevre confidently awaited a fresh Prussian attack, which, however, was
never delivered. Discouraged, and anxious as to the health of his
troops, the Duke of Brunswick, after ten days of vacillation, decided to
retreat. Thanks to his clever negotiations, which misled Dumouriez, he
succeeded in saving his army and in regaining the frontier without being
pursued; but fatigue, hunger, and dysentery had decimated his forces. Of
the 42,000 Prussians who invaded France in the previous August, barely
20,000 recrossed the frontier.

The moral effect of the victory of Valmy was considerable. It was the
first victory won by the Armies of the Revolution over the Allies. It
humbled the pride of the Prussians and gave the French unshakable faith
in the future of their arms.

The German poet, Goethe, who followed the operations, said, in speaking
of Valmy: “On that day and at that place began a new era in the history
of the world.”

MARNE (1914)]

In 1814 Blucher went round the Argonne. In 1870 the Third Prussian Army
(the Army of the Meuse) crossed it without much difficulty.

THE GREAT WAR (1914-1918)

In August, 1914, in spite of their success on the Meuse, the French
Third and Fourth Armies were ordered by Joffre to make a general retreat
towards the south. The Third Army, under Sarrail, pivoting on its right,
now rested on Verdun. Facing it was the German Vth Army, under the Crown

The German forces, following the retreat of the French Armies, slipped
in on either side of the thick woods of the Argonne, along the Valleys
of the Aisne and the Aire.

On September 5, under Joffre’s orders, the retreat came to an end, and
the great battle, which was to save France, began. After six days of
violent fighting (see Part III--The Revigny Pass--of the Battle of the
Marne, 1914), the Crown Prince’s troops, under pressure of the French
Third Army, retreated along both flanks of the Argonne; but during the
latter half of September, they came to a stand, after reaching and
consolidating the following positions: on the east, Montfaucon,
commanding the ground between the Aire and the Meuse; Montblainville and
Varennes, commanding the Valley of the Aire; on the west, Binarville,
Servon, and Vienne-le-Château, commanding the Valley of the Aisne. A
fierce and prolonged battle then began. The French troops, held on the
flanks, pushed on into the forest, in an endeavour to cut the enemy’s
transverse lines of communication, which consisted of two main roads
from east to west (see map, p. 8).

(1) The main road from Varennes to Vienne-le-Château, _via_ the
Four-de-Paris, where a road running north-south branches, crossing at
Les Islettes, the “National Road,” and the railway from
Châlons-sur-Marne to Verdun, via Sainte-Menehould.

(2) The wide forest road which, two or three kilometres to the north,
runs almost parallel to the first road, from Montblainville to
Servon-Melzicourt, _via_ Bagatelle, and across the Bois de la Gruerie.

The Germans, on their part, made every effort to maintain their lines of
communication. Moreover, they had not given up the hope of encircling
and taking Verdun. Through the transverse valleys of the Aire and the
Aisne, and the central passage of the Biesme, they threatened to cut the
Châlons-Verdun Railway, and thereby separate the Army of Champagne from
that of Verdun. The importance of the Argonne position thus becomes
evident, and explains the fury of the fighting which took place there.

The Battle in the Forest

The Forest of Argonne consists of woods of beech, horn-beam, ash, and
oak which, with an undergrowth of hazels and shrubs of many varieties,
form almost impenetrable thickets. Lovely nooks and wild glens abound;
opposite narrow ravines, whose steep sides are clothed with copse-wood,
are cool valleys full of streams, pools, and springs.

These picturesque spots have often charming names: _Bois de la
Viergette_, _Ruisseau des Emerlots_, _Fontaine la Houyette_,
_Fontaine-aux-Charmes_, _Fontaine-Madame_ and _Bagatelle_. Sometimes the
names are quaint: _Fille-Morte_, _Moulin del’Homme Mort_,
_Ferme-la-Mitte_, _Chêne Tondu_ and _Courte-Chausse_. Below the long
ridge, which forms, as it were, the backbone of the forest, the _Chemin
de la Haute-Chevauchée_, and, a little further west, the _Pavillon St.
Hubert_ evoke memories of bygone hunting-parties. All these names,
yesterday but little known, are to-day famous, as for months they
recurred almost daily in the Communiqués of the Great War, and each of
them brings to mind, not one battle only, but a series of battles,
fierce struggles, and hand-to-hand encounters in the dense undergrowth.

The stationary warfare assumed a special character in the Argonne. Lanes
and footpaths formed the only breaks in the impenetrable thickets. There
were no gentle slopes, no convenient firing positions for the infantry,
no observation-posts for the artillery--everything being concealed by
the thick foliage; no easy roads, for though several wide valleys enter
the forest, they invariably end in narrow ravines which, except where
there are paths, present almost insuperable obstacles.

The innumerable springs give rise to excessive moisture. Tiny rivulets
intersect the clay soil, and mud collects easily, making the paths
impassable. Log roads had to be made in order to facilitate the bringing
up of reliefs and supplies. Trenches were no sooner dug than they filled
with water and mud, necessitating continuous baling, often with
makeshifts such as pails, shovels, dishes, mess-tins, etc.

These trenches, dug haphazard under enemy fire, were very irregular in
line, and French and German trenches sometimes overlapped. The fusillade
was uninterrupted, but erratic, except for a few snipers perched here
and there in the trees. At night, the forest was swept at random by
rifle and machine-gun fire, to make movement dangerous and to prevent
surprise. Rockets continually lit up the night. Here the rifle was
merely an auxiliary weapon, but grenade and bomb fighting went on all
day without respite.

Under this continuous rain of hand projectiles, and the hurricane of
shells which destroyed the trenches, the casualties were heavy. Apart
from the losses in actual battle, there were often hundreds of killed
and wounded in a single day. In the attack or defence of a trench the
fighting immediately became a hand-to-hand struggle, in which the long,
cumbersome rifle generally gave place to the knife and revolver.

Owing to the difficulty of approaching the enemy trenches in the open,
advances were made by pushing saps ahead, or by blowing them up with
mines. On both sides incessant digging of galleries and mine-chambers
went on underground, whence a race in speed and skill between the
opposing sappers, for it was a case either of blowing up the enemy
first, or being blown up by him. Over the mine-destroyed trenches,
through the smoke and under the rain of earth and stones caused by the
explosions, the soldiers dashed forward to occupy the new shell-crater,
or to fight for it if the enemy had reached it first. Then would follow
a bloody hand-to-hand struggle with grenades, knives, bayonets, daggers,
axes, etc., resulting in the gain of a few yards of ground.

From the end of 1914 to March 31, 1915, between Four-de-Paris and the
Valley of the Aisne, the French sappers excavated over 3,000 yards of
mine galleries, and fired fifty-two mine-chambers, using nearly 16,000
lbs. of explosives.

The Stationary Warfare

(_September, 1914, to September, 1918._)

Activity on the Argonne front was greatest during the first year of the
war. The German positions were held by part of the Army of the Crown
Prince, whose technical adviser was the old Marshal von Haeseler. This
army was composed mainly of first-class troops, including the XVIth
(Metz) Corps, one of the best in Germany, and superior to the famous
Prussian Guards. This Corps was commanded by General von Mudra, a sapper
skilled in mine warfare, who had under his command numerous
well-equipped pioneers. The French Divisions of the 5th and 2nd (Active)
Corps, though inferior in equipment, outrivalled the enemy in courage
and daring. They held the sector for many months, and their tenacity was
more than a match for German technique. They quickly adapted themselves
to the necessities of forest fighting, and from February, 1915, they
were fully equal to the enemy in discipline and equipment.

In October, 1914, the line, as a whole, crossed the entire width of the
Argonne, from the north of Vienne-le-Château to the north of Neuvilly.
As a matter of fact, there was no continuous line, the French troops
holding only rudimentary trenches, as stationary warfare was still
distasteful to them. They believed the pause to be but temporary, and
that they would soon resume the advance. They constantly attacked the
Germans, who, equally aggressive, endeavoured to gain ground, and to
wear down the French resistance by attacks on trenches, and by
ceaselessly-renewed local engagements.

The line was very irregular, with constant re-entrants and salients, and
frequently shifted. The French had established themselves on the two
parallel roads which cross the forest: at Bagatelle on the northern
road, in Gruerie Wood and at the Barricade on the southern road. Between
the two roads they seized and consolidated positions, such as the
_Pavillon St. Hubert_ and _Fontaine-Madame_. On the northern road and
around Bagatelle, during the last months of 1914, the Germans
alternately advanced and retreated about half a mile. In October, they
captured St. Hubert, only to lose it again. Later, they advanced to
within 400 yards of Four-de-Paris on the east, but in November they were
stopped in this sector. In the centre, in spite of repeated attacks,
they were unable to take _Fontaine-Madame_.


In January, 1915, the line crossed the Melzicourt Ford, a little
upstream from Servon, and the Servon-Vienne-le-Château road to the north
of Fontaine-la-Houyette, running thence, with numerous salients and
re-entrants, through Gruerie Wood, as far as Fontaines-aux-Charmes and
the outskirts of Bagatelle. From there it went south through
Fontaine-Madame to within three-quarters of a mile north of La Harazée,
then north towards St. Hubert, then south again, crossing the Meurissons
Stream, to within 300 yards of Four-de-Paris, finally turning eastwards
across the Woods of Bolante and Courte-Chausse, to the Valley of the
Aire between Neuvilly and Boureuilles.

For almost a year the struggle on this line continued with unabated
desperateness. It is impossible to enumerate here all the battles fought
almost daily in the sectors of Fontaine-aux-Charmes, Bagatelle,
Marie-Thérèse, Fontaine-Madame, St. Hubert, Four-de-Paris, Les
Meurissons, Bolante Wood, Courte-Chausse and Haute-Chevauchée. The most
important are referred to later, in the Itinerary. On the whole, the
French troops, with whom the Garibaldian Regiment co-operated for a
short time, made some progress and inflicted bitter defeats on the
enemy. To the east, in the Valley of the Aire, though they failed
against Boureuilles, they succeeded in March, after numerous attacks, in
taking Vauquois.

During 1915, the Germans several times resorted to massed attacks on an
extended front, especially in June and July. From June 20 to July 14 the
Crown Prince launched an offensive in great force, employing as much as
an entire army corps for a single thrust. On June 20, after an intense
bombardment with gas shells, his troops attacked on both sides of the
Binarville-Vienne-le-Château road. Gassed and almost buried in their
shattered trenches, the French could not stop the enemy, but on June 24
counter-attacks regained almost all the lost ground.

On the 26th, the Crown Prince renewed and developed the attack, which,
on the 29th, extended from the Four-de-Paris to about two miles beyond
the Binarville-Vienne-le-Château road. After a three days’ bombardment,
he hurled at least 40,000 men into action, three times in succession.
Against the salient from Bagatelle to the north of Four-de-Paris alone,
on a front of about five miles, he launched two divisions. Thanks to a
hail of shells and gas bombs, the enemy advanced and, through the
corridor of the Biesme, came within five miles of their objective, the
railway station of Les Islettes. The fire of the 75’s, however, barred
the road, and the French reserves subsequently counter-attacked and
retook the lost ground covered with enemy dead.

After some local attacks on July 2 and 7, the Germans launched a fresh
general attack on the 13th, from the Binarville-Vienne-le-Château road,
as far as the Haute-Chevauchée. After a bombardment with more than
45,000 shells, five regiments of the XVIth Corps rushed the shattered
trenches. It was a powerful thrust, especially on the east, where a few
trenches were lost; but in the course of several days’ fighting the
enemy was held, and on the 14th the French counter-attacked on the west,
pushed the Germans back north of the Servon road, and held for a short
time the Beaurain Wood to the west of this road. On September 7, the
enemy once more threw two divisions against the western side of the
forest; but in this attempt, as in the first, they failed to break

In September, 1915, the French offensive in Champagne made itself felt
in the Argonne. On the 25th, a subsidiary attack, designed to cover the
flank of the main attack, was carried out between Servon and Gruerie
Wood, over difficult ground, strongly entrenched by the Germans, and
flanked by many machine-guns. After carrying the first German lines, the
French troops, who had been counter-attacked and decimated by
machine-guns on the western edges of the Gruerie Wood, were forced to
retire on their original positions. However, this minor operation
prevented the enemy from using the Argonne to launch a counter-offensive
on the flank of the main attack. On the 27th, they attacked in the
Fille-Morte and Bolante sector, doubtless to cover the despatch of
reinforcements from the Argonne to Champagne.

In October the Argonne front suddenly became as calm as it had
previously been active. The enemy, discouraged by their losses, in
despair of reaching the Sainte-Menehould-Verdun road, and with their
hands full elsewhere, remained on the defensive in the Argonne. Their
efforts were now turned in other directions--towards Les Eparges, the
Trench of Calonne, and Ailly Wood, from which they hoped once more to
threaten Verdun. The Crown Prince had expected to cross the Argonne, but
after sacrificing thousands of soldiers, he was unable to break down the
French resistance. The massed attack on an extended front having only
increased his losses without result, he returned to his original plan of
trench raids and small local operations, the object of which was to
nibble away the ground and exhaust the opposing troops as much as

From November, 1915, the sap and mine fighting was renewed, in which the
French gained the advantage. Every month, at one place or another, or at
several places at once--at Bolante, Fille-Morte, Hill 285, near the
Haute-Chevauchée road, at St. Hubert, Courte-Chausse, and Marie-Thérèse,
in the Vauquois sector--mines destroyed the enemy trenches, and there
were fierce fights with hand-grenades for the shell-craters.

The battering of the defences, the constant improvement of the
equipment, and the construction of deep bomb-proof shelters, mitigated
the hardships of war and effected a considerable reduction in the losses
of the French.

During the battle of Verdun, fighting in the Argonne was practically
limited to artillery duels, the French batteries on the eastern border
frequently engaging the enemy batteries in the Bois de Cheppy and

In 1917, the fighting consisted almost entirely of hand-to-hand
struggles for outposts or trenches. The French, who excelled in this
kind of warfare, constantly destroyed the enemy mines and brought back
numbers of prisoners from more or less extensive raids.


During the first half of 1918, while grave events were taking place on
other parts of the front, the Argonne remained quiet. The battle,
however, spread from point to point, and the Argonne front in its turn
was again set ablaze on the date fixed by Foch in his plan for the great
offensive which was destined to bring the Germans to their knees.

[Illustration: MARSHAL FOCH]

After the Allied counter-offensive of July 18 on the Aisne front (see
Volume I: “The Second Battle of the Marne”), which drove the Germans
back to the Vesle, the Allies were forced to mark time on the centre of
the front.

The battle shifted to the wings. Offensive followed offensive with
unfailing regularity, first on the left (the Franco-British offensive of
August 8), then in Artois (the offensive of August 20), and lastly
against the whole of the Hindenburg line, which the Allies attacked on
September 1.

The Germans were already greatly shaken, but Foch gave them no respite,
and to prevent them recovering he redoubled his attacks.

An offensive movement on both wings began: on the left (in Flanders) the
Belgian, French and British armies, under the command of King Albert,
attacked simultaneously with the Fourth French Army under Gouraud and
the First American Army under Pershing on the right.

As a prelude to taking its place in the line for the great offensive,
the American Army had already fought the brilliant action which, on
September 12, reduced the St. Mihiel salient. (See Volume 2: “The Battle
of St. Mihiel.”)

This operation was only just over when the main body of the American
army was moved very rapidly from the Meuse to the Argonne, to the
positions assigned to General Pershing in the Allied plan of campaign.

This very important movement, effected without a hitch between September
4 and 24, involved the displacement of enormous forces; eleven French
divisions, constituting the Second Army, were replaced by fifteen
divisions of the First American Army, which thus held the whole Verdun
front from the Aisne to the Moselle, between La Harazée and


[Illustration: GEORGE H. CAMERON,

_Commander of the American 5th Corps, comprising the 79th, 37th and 91st
(active), and 32nd (reserve) Divisions_.]

[Illustration: HUNTER LIGGETT,

_Commander of the American 1st Corps, comprising the 35th, 28th and 77th
(active), and 12th (reserve) Divisions_.]

[Illustration: ROBT. L. BULLARD,

_Commander of the American 3rd Corps, comprising the 33rd, 80th and 4th


(_1st Corps._)]

[Illustration: MAJ.-GEN. JOSEPH E. KUHN

(_79th Division._)]


(_83rd Division._)]


(_33rd Division._)]


(_28th Division._)]


(_29th Division._)]


(_7th Division._)]


(_3rd Corps._)]


_General Chief of Staff._]


_Commander of the 77th Div._]

[Illustration: MAJOR-GEN. WM. M. WRIGHT

(_1st Corps._)]


(_5th Division._)]


(_78th Division._)]

[Illustration: MAJOR-GEN. C. P. SUMMERALL

(_5th Corps._)]


(_90th Division._)]


(_82nd Division._)]


(_80th Division._)]


(_Com. of the 3rd Div._)]

[Illustration: The above map shows in detail the German Positions
between the Meuse and the Argonne on the eve of the great
Franco-American Offensive of September 26, 1918 (see next page), the
immediate objective of which was to drive the enemy across the Meuse.]

26, 1918]

The Franco-American Offensive of September 26, 1918

The combined attack of the French and American armies had for its
immediate objective the driving back of the Germans across the Meuse.
They were to advance northwards, on either side of the Argonne, join
hands at the Pass of Grandpré, and then together continue the push
towards the Meuse and cut the main German line of communication formed
by the Sedan-Mézières Railway.

The Allied and Enemy Forces

As this volume deals only with the battle of the Argonne the French
attack will be dealt with separately in “The Battles of Champagne.” Here
we shall confine our attention to the attack made by the American First
Army on the front between the Aisne and the Meuse.



The displacement of the American forces was completed by the evening of
the 22nd. On the 25th all the units were in position for attack, and
were distributed from east to west as follows:

Between the Meuse and Malancourt: the 3rd American Corps (Bullard),
comprising three divisions (33rd, 80th, 4th) in line, and one division
(3rd) in reserve.

Between Malancourt and Vauquois: the 5th American Corps (Cameron),
comprising three divisions (79th, 37th, and 91st) in line, and one
division (32nd), in reserve.


Between Vauquois and La Harazée: the 1st American Corps (Liggett),
comprising three divisions (35th, 28th, and 77th) in line, and one
division (92nd) in reserve.

In addition, there was the army reserve, consisting of three divisions
(1st, 29th, and 82nd).

On the left, the liaison of the American Army with the French Fourth
Army (Gouraud) on the outskirts of the Argonne, between the Aisne and
the forest, was maintained by two infantry regiments.

On the right, the French 17th Corps was stationed as look-out on the
right bank of the Meuse.

Facing the three corps of the American Army, the Germans had in line
eleven divisions belonging to the army of Von Gallwitz. Seven divisions
were in thee army reserve, whilst four additional divisions were being
reorganized in the Metz sector.

The Attack

ALLIES’ PROGRESS FROM SEPT. 26 (26/9) TO SEPT. 30 (30/9), 1918]

(_September 20--September 30, 1918._)

On September 26, 1918, the combined attack was launched on either side
of the Argonne. At 5.30 a.m., after an artillery preparation of six
hours on the French side, and of three hours on the American, the Allied
troops advanced to the attack. While the French took Servon, and gained
a footing on the low hills which skirt the right bank of the Aisne, the
Americans, who did not at first encounter great resistance, seized in a
single rush the first German position. The second line was soon reached,
and in spite of the increasing resistance, an average advance of about
four to six miles was effected. The Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Missouri
troops belonging to the 1st Corps (Liggett) took Varennes,
Montblainville, Cheppy, and cleared Vauquois.

On the right, the troops of the 3rd Corps (Bullard), crossing the Forges
stream, entered Malancourt, Béthincourt, Cuisy, Septsarges, Gercourt and
Drillancourt. On that day over 5,000 prisoners were captured by the

On the 27th, the advance was slower; the fire of the enemy artillery
increased in intensity, and German reinforcements counter-attacked.
Nevertheless, the Americans carried Véry, Epinonville, Ivoiry and

On the centre, the 5th Corps (Cameron) met with formidable resistance,
and in crossing the woods of Malancourt and Cheppy the troops from New
Jersey, Virginia, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana suffered very
heavy losses. In addition, they had to face numerous German
counter-attacks. On the 26th it was impossible to reach the formidable
Heights of Montfaucon, but on the 27th the ridge, outflanked on the west
by the capture of Ivoiry, and on the east by that of Septsarges, fell
into the hands of the 5th Corps which reached Nantillois.

On the evening of the 27th, the American spoils included over 100 guns
(12 of large calibre), numerous trench-mortars, hundreds of
machine-guns, and over 8,000 prisoners, 125 of whom were officers.

On the evening of the 27th, the infantry fought fiercely for the last
_points d’appui_ assigned to them for that day.

In order to prevent a counter-offensive by the Germans, General Pershing
rapidly organised, behind the ground already won, a line of defence
through Gercourt, Drillancourt, Juré Wood, Dannevoux, Nantillois,
Eclisfontaine, Charpentry, Montblainville and Apremont.

On the 28th, the resistance of the enemy further stiffened: fresh troops
carried out repeated counter-attacks on the French right and against the
American centre. The Americans, however, reached the outskirts of
Brieulles-sur-Meuse, Ogons Wood, the southern edge of Cierges, and the
northern outskirts of Apremont, whilst in the forest, the
Franco-American liaison troops occupied the Crochet shelter. On the west
the French approached Binarville and reached Ivoy Farm.

Up to that point, the American Air Force, fully maintaining its
supremacy in the air, had brought down twelve observation balloons and
over sixty enemy aeroplanes.

The next day, the Germans, throwing fresh reinforcements into the
battle, counter-attacked furiously.

Between the Valley of the Aire and Cierges, the Americans had to fight
hard for several days, in order to resist the pressure of the enemy and
to hold the ground they had gained. On the 29th and 30th violent
fighting took place round Apremont. The Germans, reinforcing their
artillery, fired great numbers of gas shells. They stubbornly defended
the approaches of the “Kriemhilde” position, which from Champigneulle to
St. Juvin, through Cornay, Fléville, and the woods of Gesnes,
Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Cunel and Fays, reached the Meuse in the
Brieulles district.

Thus the first stage of the attack was over. The Americans had forced
the Germans to abandon their first and second lines and had captured
9,000 prisoners and more than 100 guns.

The Period of Attrition

(_October 1-31, 1918._)

The advance effected during the first stage of the attack brought the
American infantry face-to-face with fresh German positions, strongly
defended, bristling with machine-guns and automatic weapons, organised
one behind the other and connected up with one another. These positions
had to be reduced bit by bit.

The smallest wood or the least depression of the ground was utilised by
the Germans with the greatest skill. In the woods they made use of a new
type of auxiliary defence-works--barbed-wire entanglements
(Maschendraht) about nine feet in height, fastened to trees or to stakes
six inches in diameter.

The Americans on their side attacked desperately, and succeeded in
gaining the disputed ground, step-by-step, thereby laying during the
whole month of October the foundation of the operations which in
November were to end in the enemy’s capitulation along the whole front.

On October 1, a hard struggle began which lasted several days, with
alternate advances and retreats. The French, finally breaking the
counter-offensive on their flank, advanced along the Valley of the Aire.
On October 1 they occupied Binarville, Condé-lez-Autry and
Vaux-lez-Mouron, after capturing considerable material, including 200
narrow-gauge trucks and numerous trucks of normal gauge. The Americans,
on their side, in spite of the machine-guns, barbed-wire, and
counter-attacks supported by tanks, pushed forward bravely.


On October 4, Pershing launched an attack along the whole Army front.

On the right, the American 3rd Corps advanced as far as the
Brieulles-Cunel road, which, however, it failed to pass. In the centre,
the 5th Corps reached Gesnes. On the left, the troops of the 1st Corps
advanced on the Forest of Argonne and reached La Viergette. On the edge
of the forest the same troops made an advance of about two miles,
reaching the outskirts of Fléville and capturing Chéhéry, as well as
Arietal Farm on the north of Exermont.

On October 7, the 1st Corps drove the Germans out of Chatel and Chéhéry,
and from the heights to the west of the Aire, as far as the outskirts of
Cornay, which they took on the following day.

But with the arrival of numerous reinforcements the German resistance
increased, and the advance became more and more difficult.

An extension of the attacking front was then decided upon, and the
French 17th Corps (Claudel), which was keeping watch on the right bank
of the Meuse, was placed at General Pershing’s disposal.

This army corps was reinforced by the French 26th Infantry Division and
the American 33rd Infantry Division, which were already operating on the
right bank of the river. These dispositions having been completed a
fresh attack was launched from the Argonne as far as Beaumont, to the
west of the Meuse.

On October 8, the German positions were violently bombarded, and on the
9th the troops advanced to the assault.

On the right, the French 17th Corps advanced as far as the southern
outskirts of the Haumont and Consenvoye Woods, but could not get beyond
these positions, which had been very strongly fortified by the Germans.


Along the Meuse the American 3rd Corps entered Brieulles, while the 5th
Corps reached the main German line of resistance between Cunel and
Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, and captured Fléville. On the left wing the 1st
Corps occupied the heights south of Marcq and the woods of Cornay.

Meanwhile the troops of the French 4th Army on the left bank of the
Aisne swept the Montcheutin--Vaux-lez-Mouron Plateau and, on the right
bank, took Lançon, Grand-Ham and Senuc. The capture of the latter
village gave them one of the gates of the Grandpré Pass. The junction of
the French and American armies was effected at Lançon. On that day the
Americans, from the Argonne to Chaume Wood, on the east of the Meuse,
captured more than 2,000 prisoners, and the French 600, besides many

On the 10th, the French crossed the Aisne opposite Termes, which they
captured; they then occupied the railway-station of Grandpré, taking
numbers of prisoners. The enemy, in danger of being cut off, evacuated
the forest, pursued by the Americans, who, after progressing beyond
Marcq and Chevières, linked up with the French before Grandpré. Further
east, their line passed north of Sommerance and through the northern
outskirts of Romagne Wood and Gesnes.

The arrival of American reinforcements in ever-increasing numbers
enabled Pershing to extend his operations.

The American Second Army, which had just been constituted under the
command of General Bullard, lined up on the right of the First Army
(which had now passed under the command of General Liggett). To his
command were joined the 33rd and 17th French Corps, wedged between the
two American armies.

The three corps of the American First Army, after the promotion of
Generals Liggett and Bullard, were commanded as follows: The 1st Corps
by General Dickman, the 5th Corps by General Summerall, and the 3rd
Corps by General Hines.

This was the state of affairs on October 14, when the general attack was

The 1st Corps captured St. Juvin and reached the outskirts of St.
Georges. In the centre the 5th Corps passed Cunel and Romagne, and
reached the outskirts of Landres-St. Georges village. Along the Meuse,
the 3rd Corps passed Forêt Wood, while on the east of the Meuse the
French 17th Corps fought a violent engagement in the woods of Coures and

The fight waxed furious. On the 16th, the Americans took the Hill of
Châtillon and the village of Champigneulle, while on the following day
they were definitely masters of Grandpré. To the west of the Argonne the
French, who had entered Vouziers, on the 12th, after a very hard
struggle and in spite of several counter-attacks, cleared Termes and
entered Mouron. On the 14th, they drove the enemy back beyond the
Grandpré--Vouziers road, and two days later took Talma and Hill 222 to
the north-west. The Germans, whose resources were fast diminishing, made
a desperate but unsuccessful resistance, and there was much confusion
among the enemy units engaged in the valleys of the Aisne and the Aire.
The battalions withdrawn from the firing line were hastily reorganised
at the base, and at once despatched to the most critical points. The
main positions were held by picked troops and especially by
machine-gunners, whose numbers and stubbornness caused great ravage in
the Allied ranks. From Grandpré to Rethel the country had been
inundated. Apparently, the enemy were constructing a new line (the
“Freyastellung”) to the north of the “Kriemhilde” position. The new line
passed north of Landres and Bantheville, through Hazois Wood, the Farms
of La Dhuy and Grand Carré, and along the northern slopes of the valley
of the Andon, between Bantheville ad Cléry-le-Petit.


On the 17th, fierce fighting took place between Olizy and Grandpré; the
French advanced north-west of Olizy, but after a violent bombardment
were forced back from Talma by a counter-attack. On the 18th, they
crossed the Aisne to the north-east and east of Vouziers, capturing
Vandy and Pissois Farm and reaching the western outskirts of Chestres.
Meanwhile, American patrols entered Loges Wood, Landres-St. Georges and
Bantheville Wood, all of which had been abandoned by the enemy.

From the 19th to the 30th a desperate battle was fought to the east of
Vouziers. Every advance was followed by German counter-attacks, the
positions constantly changing hands. On the 19th, the French Fourth Army
broke a vigorous German attack carried out by parts of seven different
divisions. On the 19th and 20th, Chestres, Macquart Farm, Hill 193 to
the east of Vandy, and Terron were taken, but the Germans recaptured the
last-named village. On the 22nd, the French had reached the outskirts of
Terron, the woods to the south-west of the Malva Farm, Landêves, Chamiot
Farm, and the suburbs of Falaise. Terron, retaken by the Czecho-Slovaks,
was held in spite of repeated German counter-attacks. To the west of
Grandpré the positions were strengthened, while the Americans checked
the Germans north of Bantheville and advanced into the woods of Loges
and Bourgogne.

A period of calm followed, and thus ended the second stage of the
offensive, during which the Americans had captured 7,000 prisoners and
fifty guns.

The Pursuit

(_November 1--11, 1918._)

During the quiet days at the end of October, the Americans proceeded
rapidly to reorganize their forces, so as to be ready, as soon as Foch
should give the signal, for their part in the new Allied offensive.



In the north, the Belgians had just cleared their coast-line, and were
menacing the enemy by an advance into the very heart of Belgium. The
British had occupied Lille and broken down the defences of the
Hindenburg Line. Meanwhile, the French, relentlessly driving back the
retreating enemy, had entered Laon, after forcing the formidable bastion
of the St. Gobain Forest.

On November 1, between Grandpré and the Meuse, the Americans had in line
the following forces of the First Army (Liggett):

The 3rd Corps, composed of the 5th and 90th Infantry Divisions.

The 5th Corps, composed of the 89th and 2nd Infantry Divisions.

The 1st Corps, composed of the 80th, 77th and 78th Infantry Divisions.

Their right was prolonged by the French 17th (Active) Corps, which, with
the 33rd (Active) Corps, was in liaison with their Second Army.

Facing these forces the Germans, under the command of Von der Marwitz,
had massed three army corps between Buzancy and the Meuse, reinforced by
two Austro-Hungarian divisions.

At 5.30 a.m. on November 1, the troops of the French Fourth Army
(Gouraud) and those of the American First Army (Liggett), after a two
hours’ bombardment of great violence, launched a fresh offensive.

The Americans attacked on the north, and, in spite of a stubborn
resistance, advanced several kilometres, taking 3,600 prisoners and
forty-four guns. The French attacked on the east, along a twelve-mile
front, cleared the whole of the right bank of the Aisne, and bit into
the Argonne, threatening on the right and in the rear the Germans, who,
facing south, stood opposed to the Americans. 1,300 prisoners and a
number of guns were captured. On November 1, the American 3rd Corps, on
the right, seized Aincreville, approached Doulcon and took Andevanne and
Cléry-le-Grand. In the centre, the 5th Corps captured Bayonville,
Rémonville and Landres. On the left, the 1st Corps, in the face of the
enemy’s fierce resistance, were only able to advance slightly in Loges

On the following day (November 2) the Americans vigorously followed up
their attack. The 1st Corps, freed on its right by the advance of the
5th Corps on the previous day, pushed on boldly five miles beyond
Thénorgues and Buzancy, while the French, on their side, carried half of
the northern portion of the Argonne, reaching the Ballay-Longwé line on
the east of Vouziers.

On the 3rd, the enemy, threatened with being surrounded, fell back. The
Allies straightened their line towards the north, and advanced twelve
miles in the centre. The line now passed through Semuy, the southern
bank of the Ardennes Canal, the southern outskirts of Chesne, the course
of the Bar as far as Châtillon, through Belleville, Authe, St.
Pierremont, Sommauthe, Vaux-en-Dieulet, Belval, Le Champy-Bas,
Beauclair, Montigny-devant-Sassey and Mont-devant-Sassey. In three days
the Germans lost over 6,000 prisoners and 100 guns, and were driven back
towards the Sedan-Mézières-Metz highway, the approaches to which were
desperately defended. However, their resistance broke down before the
continued push of the Allies.

Already the Allies’ heavy guns were steadily bombarding the Stenay,
Montmédy and Longuyon Railways.

On November 4, the American 3rd Army Corps reached the Meuse between
Villefranche and Stenay, while two solid bridgeheads were established at
Brieulles and Cléry. The Germans, disconcerted by this rapid advance,
withdrew to the right bank of the Meuse.

The two other American Corps followed up the advance, and on the 5th
were within nine miles of Sedan, while the French advanced six miles
north of the line of the Aisne. On the 8th, the French were the first to
enter the suburbs of Sedan, and on the 9th they reached Mézières.

On the extreme right the Germans gave way before the impetuous attacks
of the French 17th Corps, and after a violent engagement, were driven
back, the next day, to the foot of the heights of the Meuse, south of


(_Nov. 7, 1918._)]

On the evening of November 10, the First American Army was to cross the
Chiers and push on next day to Montmédy, when the Armistice on the 11th
saved the German Army from destruction.

The spoils of the American Army during the last stage of the offensive
comprised 5,000 prisoners, 250 guns, 2,000 machine-guns, in addition to
enormous quantities of stores. In all, during the Meuse-Argonne Battle
the Americans took 21,000 prisoners and 400 guns, which, added to their
previous captures, amounted to 50,000 prisoners and over 1,000 guns.
Seventy-eight German divisions were engaged during the battle, and the
American casualties numbered 100,000 men.


=FIRST DAY=: 155 km.--=Verdun=, =Buzancy=, =Varennes=, =Vauquois=,
=Clermont-en-Argonne=, and =Sainte-Menehould.=



_Leave Verdun[1] by the Chaussée Gate. Beyond the ramparts, turn to the
left into N. 64_ (_leaving N. 3 in front, and, fifty yards further on,
N. 18 on the right_).

 [1] For particulars concerning Verdun, Bras, Charny, Esnes,
 Malancourt, see The Michelin Illustrated Guide. “The Battle of Verdun.”

_N. 64 follows the right bank of the Meuse, crosses the Faubourg of
Belleville, climbs the Hill of Belleville Fort, and passes close to
Froide-Terre Hill. Opposite stands_ =Bras=, at the foot of =Poivre Hill.=

To visit Verdun, Bras, Charny, Esnes, and Malancourt, see the _Michelin
Illustrated Guide_: “The Battle of Verdun.”


(_Photographed from aeroplane in May, 1916._)]

_Extracted from The Michelin Illustrated Guide, “The Battle of


_At the entrance to_ =Bras=, _on the left, there is a_ large French
military cemetery (_photo above_). _In the village_, completely ruined,
_turn to the left into G.C. 38, which soon crosses the Est Canal and
then the Meuse_ (_on the right, under the_ ruined bridge: fortifications
and shelters). =Charny=, _about one mile from Bras, is next reached_.

_G.C. 38 crosses the ruins of this village (level-crossing on leaving),
then turns to the right, leaving the Thierville road opposite._

_The road goes round the Heights of Vacherauville and Marre Forts, then
enters the almost entirely ruined village of_ =Marre= (_about three miles
from Charny_). _Turn to the left at the first houses, pass in front of
the_ ruined church, _then turn to the right, leaving the Bourrus Woods
road opposite_. _Follow the railway._



_Two kilometres beyond Marre, before Chattancourt Station, G.C. 38 turns
to the left (leaving the Cumières road opposite), then, 1 km. from the
fork in the road, reaches_ =Chattancourt= (completely ruined) _at the foot
of Mort-Homme_ (_photo below_).


_On leaving the village, G.C. 38 turns to the left and climbs the side
of_ =Hill 275=, _from the top of which there is_ a fine view of Mort-Homme
Hill and Hill 304; _a little to the left_, Montzéville village, situated
in a hollow, and, behind, the Valley of the Meuse, Poivre Hill, Talou
Hill and Samogneux, are also visible.

[Illustration: ESNES CHURCH, HILL 304 (LEFT) and G.C. 38 (BEHIND THE

_The road next descends; at the sides are_ numerous military works and
French graves. _2 km. 200 beyond Chattancourt there is a crossroad: the
Montzéville road lies ahead, while G.C. 38, turning to the right, climbs
a crest from which there is_ a view of Esnes and Hill 304. =Esnes= (_4 km.
200 from Chattancourt_), partly ruined, _is reached_: Panorama of Hill
304 (_photo, pp._ 34-35).


_G.C. 38 passes in front of the church (photo, p. 35) and then rises
towards_ Hill 304. _1 km. from Esnes, near a wayside cross_ (photo
above), _is a fork_; _take the road on the right (G.C. 18) to the top
of_ =Hill 304.= _On the right there is a fine view of_ the Valley of the

_The road crosses the old front lines, then zigzags down to_ =Malancourt=
(_5 km. from Esnes_). _At the entrance to the village, on the right of
the road, is a_ concrete blockhouse (_photo below_).


=Malancourt= was completely devastated. _Pass in front of the ruins_ of
the church, quite near to which there is another blockhouse. _Keep


_The road on the left leads to Gercourt; that on the right to

_G.C. 18, leaving on the left, in the village, the Avocourt road._.
_Climb_ Hill 251, _from the top of which_ Montfaucon Ridge _is seen_.

_3 km. 400 beyond Malancourt (and 1 km. before Montfaucon) the road
joins G.C. 19, which take to the right in the direction of Consenvoye._

_One kilometer further on, at the fork, keep along G.C. 19, which turns
to the left (the Cuisy road, straight ahead, is impassable). On the
right, in a tiny valley, is seen the village of_ =Cuisy=, completely
ruined. _1 km. 200 further on, to the right, there is a road leading to
Cuisy. G.C. 19, after rejoining the Septsarges road, reaches_ =Gercourt=,
_5 km. beyond Cuisy_.

Several concrete German defence-works are to be seen in Gercourt, while
the ruins of the houses and church present a terrible scene of
desolation (_photo below_). Opposite the church stands a house lined
with concrete, in which the Germans had installed a telephone exchange.

Cuisy and Gercourt were within the German front lines from 1914, and
were only retaken in 1918 during the American offensive of September 26.


_On the right: G.C. 19, leading to Consenvoye._]


_The road turns to the right near the church. After leaving the village,
it passes 500 yards to the left of_ Forges Wood, in which German
batteries were posted. Large calibre guns destroyed by French artillery
are still to be seen on the road, 1 km. _from Gercourt_ (_photo above_).

_On rejoining the road from Dannevoux (I.C. 23) turn to the right and
follow the railway as far as_ =Consenvoye= (_1 km. 800 from Gercourt_),
_which is reached after crossing the Meuse and the canal_.

Consenvoye, on the left bank of the Meuse, was connected with the right
bank by a fine bridge, which the French blew up after the retreat from
Charleroi. After the victory of the Marne, all efforts to dislodge the
Germans from the village were unavailing, and until the German offensive
of February 21, 1916, Consenvoye marked the limit of the advance on both
sides. It was over this bridge that supplies were brought up for the
sector on the left bank of the Meuse during the 1916 offensive. The
village was retaken in the course of a brilliant combined action by the
French and Americans during the offensive of October 7, 1918.

[Illustration: SIVRY-SUR-MEUSE

_The Church and N. 64._]

ON NOV. 1, 1918 (_On I.C. 49, 3 km. from Vilosnes._)]

Consenvoye suffered less than the other villages previously mentioned.
Around the church, which was not severely damaged, are some soldiers’

_Keep along past the church as far as N. 64, into which turn to the
left. Follow the valley of the Meuse to_ =Sivry= (_4 km. from

_N. 64 crosses the_ partly destroyed village, _then runs alongside the
canal and the Meuse to a fork in the road, 2 km. 500 from Sivry_. _Here
leave N. 64_

[Illustration: BRIEULLES-SUR-BAR, NOV. 4, 1918

_117th American Engineers_ (_42nd Inf. Div._)

_Arrival of the Field Kitchen._]

_and take the Vilosnes road on the left, which continues alongside the
Meuse. Part of_ =Vilosnes= (_3 km. 500 from Sivry_) was destroyed, but the
church, _which stands on a height_, was not seriously damaged.



_Near the church, take the road on the left across the canal and the
Meuse, then beyond the level-crossing at Vilosnes Station turn into I.C.
49 on the right. Follow the railway, which is on the left bank of the

_Three kilometres from Vilosnes Station, on the right, between the road
and Châillon Wood, there is_ an American monument commemorating the
crossing of the Meuse on November 1, 1918 (_photo, p. 39_). _Further on,
at the entry to_ =Brieulles=, _opposite the station, stands_ another
similar monument.

The outskirts of Brieulles were stubbornly defended by the Germans
during the American offensive of September, 1918. On September 29,
during the first stage of the offensive, the American 3rd Corps reached
the southern outskirts of the village, but were unable to enter it. It
was not until October 9 that the American troops, after a fierce
struggle, captured it.

_At the station, turn to the left along the road through Brieulles (4
km. 500 from Vilosnes). Pass near the church, leaving the Nantillois
road on the left. Cross the village, in which_ a number of the houses
are in ruins. _The rising road leads to the_ cemetery (numerous German
graves), _then descends to the I.C. 64, which runs beside the railway
and the Meuse to_ =Cléry-le-Petit= (_3 km. 500 from Brieulles_). _Before
entering the village_, a third American monument _is seen on the left_.




Cléry-le-Petit was slightly damaged. On November 4, 1918, the Americans
reached the Meuse between Brieulles and Villefranche. On September 5,
they crossed the river at Brieulles and Cléry, on foot-bridges built by
the American engineers, in spite of the stubborn resistance of the
Germans established on the right bank. It was the American 5th Division
which first effected the crossing of the river and established solid
bridgeheads at Cléry and Brieulles, which resisted every attack. _Keep
straight on, leaving the church on the right, and the Cléry-le-Grand
road on the left._ _After crossing the little River Andon, Dun-sur-Meuse
on the top of the opposite hill comes into view._ _The G.C._ 2 _bis near
Doulcon is reached, which take to the right as far as_ =Dun-sur-Meuse= (_3
km. from Cléry-le-Petit_).



(_G.C._ 2 _bis._)]

_The town is reached after crossing first the railway (l.c.) near the
station, then the canal and the Meuse (photos, pp. 42-43). Motor-cars
can climb as far as the church. Turn to the left beyond the last bridge
in the lower town, then take the first street on the right, which by a
wide bend and a steep ascent leads to the upper town and to the terrace,
where stands the church._ There is a fine view over the lower town and
the valley of the Meuse (_photo, pp._ 40-41) from here.

_Return to and recross the bridges; keep straight on to_ =Doulcon=,
_leaving the Cléry road on the left_.

_At the fork in the road beyond Doulcon_ (in ruins), _take G.C. 2 bis on
the left, as far as_ =Romagne= (_9 km. from Doulcon_), _passing through_
=Aincreville= (severely damaged) and =Banthéville= (completely ruined).


(_On the left: I.C. 4, leading to Sommerance._)]


_Before entering_ Romagne, _on the right, there is_ a large German
cemetery and some American graves.

Most of the houses in Romagne were destroyed. _Near the church_ (in
ruins), _take on the left the Cunel road and cross the bridge. 300 yards
from the village_ there suddenly comes into view on the side of the hill
=a very large American cemetery containing some 28,000 graves= (_photo,
pp. 14 and 15_). _Return by the same road to Romagne Church, and take
the Sommerance road_ (_photo, p. 44_) _on the left_.


_Pass the other side of the German cemetery_ (_photo above_), _then go
through_ =Romagne Wood=, in which are numerous German dug-outs and
gun-emplacements. _Next cross a large plateau_ (Hill 247); _7 km. 400
beyond Romagne_, =Sommerance= (damaged houses) _is reached_ (_photo
below_). _In the village,_

[Illustration: AMERICAN MONUMENT (1ST DIV., OCT. 11, 1918) _On I.C. 4, 1
km. from Sommerance village._]

_beyond the public washing place near the church, take the street_ (_I.C.
4_) _which ascends on the right. 1 km. beyond Sommerance, on the right
of I.C. 4_, there is another American monument (1st Division, October
11, 1918) (_photo above_).

_3 km. 200 beyond Sommerance_, =Landres= village (severely damaged) is
reached. During the American offensive of October 14, 1918, the approach
to Landres was fiercely contested. The American 5th Corps reached the
outskirts of the village on October 14, but it was only on the 18th,
after three days’ heavy fighting, that Landres was taken. The church was
partially destroyed. _Turn to the right beyond the church and then to
the left. After crossing the stream, turn to the right again, and 100
yards further on, to the left._

_One kilometer beyond the village, at the fork in the road, take I.C. 15
on the left across a plateau, and through the_ pretty little village of
=Landreville= _in the Valley of the Agron. At the entrance to this
village, on the left, there is_ an interesting château with turrets, one
of which was destroyed (_photo, p. 47_), =Bayonville=, _5 km. beyond
Landres, is next reached_.


Several houses in Bayonville were destroyed, the village having been
frequently bombed by the Allied airmen during the Franco-American
offensive of September-October, 1918. The badly damaged church dates
from the 16th century, but has been frequently restored.


_After passing in front of the church, the road turns first to the left,
then to the right. At the end of the village take I.C. 12, which climbs_
=Hill 290=, _called Bellevue. Looking back there is a fine view over_
Bayonville, and the district of Romagne-Banthéville. _3 km. 300 from
Bayonville, at the fork, take the left-hand road_; picturesque run down
to =Buzancy= (_4 km. 400 from Bayonville_).

_At the cross-ways on I.C. 12, near the first houses, keep straight on
along Rue du Général Chanzy to the Place Chanzy._. The statue of Chanzy
(born at Nouart, in this district), which stood in this square, was
carried away by the Germans.

89TH INF. DIV., ON NOV. 2, 1918]



Buzancy was formerly a fortified town. In 1650, Turenne, after his
defeat at Somme-Py, retreated on Vouziers and thence to Buzancy. On
September 12, 1792, the town was occupied by the Austrian troops under
Clerfayt, on their march to Croix-aux-Bois. In October, after Valmy, the
rearguard of the retreating army was attacked by Valence near Buzancy,
the Republicans capturing a standard of the 6th Division of the
Lifeguards from the Emigrés. This standard was taken to Dumouriez’s
headquarters and hung in the window of the Vouziers Château. Offered
some days later to the Convention, the latter decided that this symbol
of rebellion should be burned by the public executioner.

On August 27, 1870, a reconnoitring party of two squadrons of the 12th
Chasseurs of the French 5th (Active) Corps, having passed through the
town, was climbing the opposite hill when they were attacked by Saxon
Dragoons debouching from La Folie Wood. The Saxons, greatly superior in
numbers, forced back the French to the entrance of the village; but a
third squadron coming to the rescue, the French attacked, and after a
sharp fight, lasting half an hour, forced the Saxon Dragoons to retreat
up Sivry Hill. Pursued by the French, the latter were finally stopped by
the sudden unmasking of enemy batteries.

From 1914 to 1918 Buzancy was occupied by the Germans who, at the end of
October, 1918, hotly defended its approaches against the American First
Army. The village was, however, taken and passed on November 2.

Several houses in the Rue Charles Coffin were burned down. Most of the
church is late 13th century.

_Take Rue du Château on the left of the Place Chanzy._

The Château de la Cour is supposed to have been built on the site of a
house occupied by St. Remi, Archbishop of Rheims. Two very large
sculptured lions, presented by Louis XV. to King Stanislas and brought
from the Château of Lunéville, ornament the entrance. Of the 17th-18th
century château, only the outbuildings are left.


_The Itinerary follows Rue du Gen. Chanzy opposite._]

The Mosque of Mahommed is a fragment of a very old square building.
According to tradition it was built by a Noble Jean d’Anglure, a
crusader who, captured by the Mohammedans, regained his liberty by
promising to build a mosque. It seems more probable that this building
is the remains of a lodge attached to the Château de la Cour.



_Take I.C. 6, a continuation of the Rue du Château, as far as_
=Thénorgues= (_3 km. 200 from Buzancy_).

_Before entering Thénorgues_, a German burial ground _is seen on the
right in the communal cemetery_. _In front of the church take I.C. 20 on
the left, which, 2 km. 700 further on, reaches_ =Verpel.= _Beyond the
church of Verpel turn to the left, and immediately afterwards to the
right. Outside the village, the I.C. 20 divides; keep straight on._
Picturesque run down into the Agron Valley.

_Cross the Agron near a mill, reaching_ =Champigneulle=, which stands on a
hill, _4 km. 200 from Verpel_. Numerous houses are in ruins. The road
passes in front of the very curious church, the nave of which has fallen
in (_photo below_). _On leaving the village, the road again descends
into the valley, recrosses the Agron, then rises on the left up_ =Hill
182=, on which stands the village of =St. Juvin= (_2 km. from
Champigneulle_). _At the entrance to the latter there is a_ large German


St. Juvin

On September 15, 1792, a strong Prussian detachment, under the command
of Hohenlohe, drove a small body of French troops from the village,
forcing them back on Senuc. Eighty foot-soldiers were taken prisoners
and sent to the headquarters at Landres. Among them were several
Alsatians whom the Prince of Prussia addressed in German, offering to
enrol them in his regiment, but only one of them agreed to serve against

In October, 1918, along the St. Juvin--Landres--St. Georges line, the
Americans delivered a long series of fierce assaults upon the
“Brunehilde” position, or second line of defence which the Germans had
prepared in this district. On October 11, 1918, at the time when the
Americans approached St. Juvin, the village was in flames. Its recapture
proved difficult. On October 14, the Americans outflanked it on the
north, and, on the 15th, regardless of their heavy losses, they
succeeded in taking it inch by inch, and in gaining the positions of St.
Georges and Landres-St. Georges. On the 16th they were fighting in
Champigneulle on the west of St. Georges, and holding the Châtillon Hill
on the south of Landres. By the 18th they had occupied both these

St. Juvin is dominated by its church--one of the most interesting of the
fortified churches in this district--which, in the distance, looks like
a fortress. Its high thick walls, with narrow windows and occasional
loopholes at the top, form a parallelogram, flanked at each corner by a
round tower with corbels.

In the interior of the church there is a well and an oven. Dating from
the early part of the 17th century, it was rebuilt between 1615 and 1623
on the site of the old church destroyed under the League about 1552.
Some of the relics of the patron-saint of the Parish, St. Juvin, were
preserved in a shrine of gilded bronze.


The Fountain of St. Juvin, situated between the Woods of Marcq and
Cornay, is frequented by peasant pilgrims who invoke the Saint to cure
their sick pigs. Failing a visit to the well, the peasants touch the
shrine in the church with a piece of bread, which is afterwards given to
the animals. The church contains a statue of St. Juvin, depicted with a
stick in his hand and two pigs at his feet. There is a legend that St.
Juvin was the disciple of St. Oricle, the Martyr of Senuc. One day when
he was walking with Oricle and his sisters (Oricule and Basilique), they
had to cross the Aisne near Senuc at the “Ford of Madame Anciaux.”
Oricle’s sisters had lifted their skirts before entering the water, and
Juvin, who was behind them, exclaimed: “Oricle, Oricle, what fine legs
your sisters have.” Oricle, in anger, reprimanded Juvin severely, and
condemned him to keep pigs for the rest of his life, which is why Juvin,
up to his death, kept pigs in the heart of the forest, round the well
which to this day bears his name.


_On the right: The ruined Church. In the foreground: The River Aire._]

_After visiting the church keep straight on, leaving the St. Georges
road on the left, and on the right, that leading to Grandpré. After a
rather steep descent, turn to the left along N. 46, at the end of the

_Follow the Valley of the Aire to_ =Fléville= (_4 km. 200 from St.
Juvin_), _which escaped practically unscathed_. _4 km. further on N. 46
passes close to Apremont, then over a ridge, from the top of which_
=Vauquois Hill=, now quite bare, comes into view on the right. _From here,
a rather steep descent brings the tourist to_ =Varennes= (_1 km. from


This little town, made famous by the arrest of Louis XVI. (p. 74), was
almost completely destroyed.

In September, 1914, it was occupied by the Germans, who converted it
into a fortress. On September 26, 1918, the first day of the
Franco-American offensive, it was retaken by the American First Army in
a single charge.

The River Aire divides the town into two parts: the upper town on the
left bank, and the lower on the right bank. The visit to the upper town
will be made on the second day (_see p._ 74).


_N. 46 coming from Fléville, passes the church_ (_hist. mon.--photos
above and below_).

The three-sided apse of this church, with its fine windows, dates from
the 14th or 15th century; the façade and the tower from the 18th.

The Hôtel du Grand Cerf, near the church, contains carved presses and
pretty Argonne earthenware.

The bridge over the Aire, from which there is a pretty view of the
river, connects the upper and lower town.

_Before crossing the bridge, take G.C. 38 to the left, 1 km. 800 from
Varennes; leave the Cheppy road on the left, and keep on in the
direction of_ =Vauquois=, the bare crest of which is seen _on the right_.

_3 km. 500 from Varennes, on the right, is a sheet of water, behind
which rises_ =Vauquois Hill.= _One hundred yards further on, at a small
wood, leave the car and take on foot the (bad) road on the right for
about 400 yards_, to a square constructed in cement and stone. This was
a German Command-Post (_photo, p._ 54). _On the left of this building,
follow a small winding path up to_ =Vauquois Crest.=

(The visit on foot to Vauquois Crest takes an hour.)





Vauquois is one of the famous spots of the Argonne battlefield. The
Germans took it in September, 1914, during a strong attack on the French
3rd Army, in their efforts to encircle Verdun. The ridge concealed their
operations to the north of Varennes, covered the re-victualling of the
Argonne front by the Four-de-Paris road, and above all furnished their
artillery with an excellent observation-post. The importance of the
position caused the Germans to convert it into a veritable fortress.
Caves were made in the rock and connected by underground passages. The
streets of the village were excavated, so that the vent-holes of the
cellars formed loop-holes on a level with a man’s head. The walls of the
houses and gardens were battlemented, and trenches were dug in the
slopes in front of the village. The position was supported and flanked
by the guns in the Woods of Cheppy, Montfaucon and Argonne. Approach was
the more difficult, in that the position was surrounded on all sides by
ravines and _glacis_, which provided admirable firing positions for the

This formidable position, which earlier in the war, before the
improvement in the French artillery, would have been considered
impregnable, was taken by the French 10th Infantry Division after heroic
sacrifices. The first assaults especially, made without artillery
preparation or support, cost the splendid French Infantry heavy losses.

The first attack was made on October 28, 1914, by two battalions of the
46th Regiment of the line. The French front lines were then on the
_Mamelon Blanc_, facing Vauquois. Two companies debouching from Noir
Wood attacked the western slopes of Vauquois, the sections deployed in
skirmishing order, without artillery preparation, and without a single
big French gun being fired on the village. As the men dashed forward up
the slopes they were shot down by the carefully concealed German
riflemen, but continued nevertheless to advance, in spite of the rain of
bullets, till an avalanche of big German shells overwhelmed and
scattered them. At the end of half an hour almost all of them were out
of action.


The second assault was made on the following day (the 29th), after a
very short artillery preparation, during which only a few shells were
fired, most of which failed to burst. Fresh companies attacked further
to the right, near the Cigalerie. The men charged with the bayonet, but
as on the previous day, were mown down by the German machine-guns and
rifles, and failed, after heavy losses. At night, an attempt to rescue
the wounded left on the field was unsuccessful, the enemy firing
pitilessly on the stretcher-bearers, in spite of the Red Cross lantern.

The third assault was carried out on February 17, 1915, by the 76th,
31st and 46th Infantry Regiments. This time the operation, which almost
succeeded, was better prepared. The French artillery had improved its
equipment and methods, being now better adapted to stationary warfare.
The artillery preparation with guns of 75, 95, 150, 155 and 270 m.m.
lasted more than twelve hours. The 31st Regiment of the line charged
into Vauquois, and reached the ruins of the church, but, caught by the
fire of the Argonne and Montfaucon batteries, and that of the
machine-guns of Cheppy, it was forced, after heavy losses, to fall back.
Abandoning the plateau, this regiment held on half-way down the hill.

The fourth assault was made on February 28, under further improved
conditions. A plan of the village, of which only the ruins were left,
was issued to the troops. Each company had its precise objectives
assigned to it, and the men were armed, for the first time, with the new
hand-grenades, charged with melinite. The bombardment began at dawn. Big
guns shattered the shelters, and 75’s, hoisted to the top of the
_Mamelon Blanc_, fed by infantry, who carried up the shells on their
backs, fired directly on the village. When the attack began, the band of
the 46th Regiment of the line, stationed at the bottom of the ravine,
played the “Marseillaise.” Within a few minutes a number of the bandsmen
fell killed or wounded, but the survivors sounded the charge, and the
storming waves of the 89th, 76th and 46th Regiments


dashed forward. Bullets and shells soon silenced the music; of fifteen
bandsmen only five escaped unwounded, but the companies leading the
charge were by this time climbing the slopes of Vauquois. At the
divisional observation-post, General Valdant, who was following the
attack, turning with great emotion to his officers, raised his _képi_,
and said: “Gentlemen, salute!” The fight was stubborn; twice the troops,
dashing from one shell-hole to another, reached the plateau, the second
time standing firm. The houses were taken one by one, and the church
reached. The village had been wiped out--only shell-holes, heaps of
stones, bits of walls and shattered cellars remained. Throughout the
next day the Germans shelled the defenders, who were armed only with
rifles. Outflanked, the French were slowly forced back from shell-hole
to shell-hole, fighting all the time, but their line of defence,
organised under fire on the edge of the plateau, brought the enemy to a
standstill. At 2 p.m. the French infantry, for the fifth time, stormed
the village, carried the German trenches, entered the ruins, and within
half an hour drove back the enemy at the point of the bayonet. At 3, 4,
5 and 5.30 p.m., the Germans counter-attacked; but although troops of
fourteen different units were successively launched, they could not
dislodge the French from the main street. Twice during the night they
tried, in vain, to take the church. For four days and nights, under an
incessant pounding by high-explosive shells and a rain of bullets, the
French troops held on without supplies, dependent for their food on the
rations taken from the dead. The Colonial Infantry, who for a short time
relieved the attacking troops, were decimated in a few days. The Germans
were already making use of a powerful _minenwerfer_, to which the French
could only reply with hastily-devised mortars roughly made out of 77
m.m. shell-cases, and which carried only 100-150 yards. It was an
unequal contest. The Germans attacked almost every night, but were
repulsed with hand-grenades and rifle fire, sometimes with the bayonet.
The position became untenable and the French had either to retreat or
advance. Once more they attacked. On the afternoon of March 4, the 76th
regiment of the line took the German trenches west of the church,
reaching the wall of the cemetery, in spite of enemy grenades and mines.
On the 5th a German counter-attack was repulsed and the capture of
Vauquois by the French was definitive. During the night of the
15th-16th, a fresh German attack was easily repulsed. On the 16th, at
the Cigalerie, which during the attacks of February and March had served
as a dressing station, Standard-bearer Collignon, of the 46th Regiment
of the line, Councillor of State, and former Secretary-General to the
Presidency of the Republic, who had voluntarily enlisted at the age of
fifty-eight, was killed by the explosion of a shell while trying to
rescue a wounded man belonging to the 76th Regiment of the line. Ever
since, at Regimental roll-calls, his name follows that of La Tour
d’Auvergne, and the reply is made: “Died on the field of honour.”


(_Seen from the crest of Vauquois Ridge.) In the background: Argonne
Forest._] Cazeneuve of the _Opera Comique_, Adjutant of the 46th
Regiment of the line, who had volunteered at the age of fifty-four, was
also killed at Vauquois by a bomb which shattered his dug-out.

Vauquois for long remained a particularly dangerous sector, the scene of
frequent hand-to-hand struggles, of mining and counter-mining, and of
continuous bombardment. The Germans were not reconciled to the loss of
this position, which gave the French an outlook over Varennes and the
road which formed a continuation of the light railway which they had
built between


Montfaucon and Spincourt. On March 22, 1915, near the ruins of the
church, they attacked a trench with liquid fire. Mines were exploded
almost every month, followed by fighting for possession of the craters.
Engagements of this nature took place on April 5, July 26, August 3,
September 4, November 18 and 21, and December 16, 1915, and on January
13 and 16, February 3, and March 24, 1916.

The Battle of Verdun was followed by a period of comparative calm in
this sector, both sides practically abandoning mine warfare. In 1917
there was hardly anything but hand-to-hand fighting, and a few more or
less important raids. Three times during the first three months of 1918,
the French carried out important raids in this region. On March 17
especially, along a front of 1,400 yards, they advanced to a depth of
800 yards into the enemy lines, and brought back about a hundred
prisoners. On September 26, 1918, the first day of the Franco-American
offensive, the outskirts to the north of Vauquois were completely
cleared, while Boureuilles was taken by the Americans.


The ridge, which rose 390 feet above the Valley of the Aire, and more
than 250 feet above that of the Buanthe, is no longer recognisable, the
bombardments and mine-explosions have shattered, and, so to speak,
decapitated it. The sight is impressive; mine craters have swallowed up
the village; trenches, shelters, barbed-wire are all that remain
(_photos, p._ 58).

The view extends as far as Clermont-en-Argonne.

_After visiting Vauquois, return to and follow G.C. 38._ The original
front lines are soon crossed. Cheppy Wood on the left and Hesse Forest
on the right were cut to pieces by the shells. The ground is covered
with defence-works. _6 km. 500 beyond Varennes the road divides on the
edge of Hesse Forest, G.C. 38 running to the left, towards Avocourt.
Take the right-hand road (I.C. 60), which enters the forest._ Numerous
French military works, and some gun emplacements, may be seen along the
road. _The road to Récicourt, on the left, is soon passed._

_Coming out of the forest I.C. 60 crosses a plateau, then reaches_
=Aubréville= (_14 km. from Varennes_).


_Cross the railway (l.c.) near the station, then the Couzance River, and
enter the_ ruins of Aubréville (_photo, p. 59_). _At the end of the
village the road forks; keep straight along I.C. 60, which crosses first
the Aire, then the railway (l.c.)._ The =Ridge of Clermont-en-Argonne=
_soon comes into view_.

_The road joins that leading to Neuvilly; cross the bridge over the
railway and enter_ =Clermont=, _coming out at the Place de la Mairie_.


The history of this picturesque little town, which was the capital of
the old Comté of Clermont, has been a troubled one. In 719,
Charles-Martel gave it and its dependencies to the Bishop of Verdun. In
1094 it was taken by an adventurer named Odon, and recaptured from him
by the Bishop of Verdun. In 1110, Dudon, Count of Clermont, having
insulted the Bishop of Verdun, the town was besieged by the Emperor. In
the subsequent struggles between the Bishops of Verdun and the Counts of
Bar for the possession of the town, it was several times besieged and
burnt. The Counts of Bar, who finally gained the upper hand, on the
condition that they would pay homage to the Bishops of Verdun, strongly
fortified it. A fortress, added by Henri II., Count of Bar, in the 13th
century, was built on the St. Anne Plateau. Letters of enfranchisement
were given to the inhabitants of the fortress by Count Tiébault II. in
1246, and to the people of the town by the Duke Henri IV. in 1339. In
1354, Yolande of Flanders, Countess of Longueville, Bar, and Cassel, had
a mint at Clermont. In 1539, Clermont became a feudatory state of the
Empire. Ceded to France in 1634 by the Treaty of Liverdun (confirmed by
the Treaty of the Pyrénees in 1659) it was definitely incorporated in
France by the Treaty of Paris on March 29, 1641. In 1648, Louis XIII.
settled it on the Great Condé, whose family held it until the
Revolution. During the _Fronde_, Clermont took part in the war of the
rebel princes; in 1654, the town was besieged by the royal troops, the
siege being conducted by Vauban, who had himself fortified the place in
1652. On November 8, 1654, the Marquis de Riberpray took the fortress
and church by assault, and on the 22nd, after a siege lasting one month,
the town surrendered. The upper town and the fortress were entirely
destroyed, while the peasants of the surrounding district were made to
pull down the fortress. Clermont and its dependencies were added to the
national domain in 1790. In 1792, Clermont was occupied by the Austrian
and Hessian troops under Hohenlohe. On September 11, enemy hussars
surprised and captured some French troops near Clermont, who, while
foraging, had lost their way in the fog; they also surrounded a company
of infantry in the gardens of the town. On September 20, the French, who
were holding the pass of Les Islettes, took their revenge on the
Hessians. The latter, held up by the fire of the French artillery, were
forced to retreat, and the sharpshooters, under Marceau, drove them back
to the gardens of Clermont.


In 1914, Clermont was occupied by German troops of the Crown Prince’s
Army. The town was almost deserted, with the exception of the old men’s
asylum, in which the pensioners remained under the care of Sister
Gabrielle. During the night of September 4, the 121st and 122nd
Wurtemberg Regiments broke in the doors of the houses with the butt-ends
of their rifles and pillaged the town. At the asylum, after smashing the
doors, officers entered with revolvers in their hands, but Sister
Gabrielle, surrounded by her nuns and the inmates, received the
invaders, and by her firm demeanour won their respect. In the rest of
the town the pillaging went on throughout the day. About noon 3 German
soldier started an incendiary fire; everything was burned or destroyed,
with the exception of the asylum, which owed its escape to Sister

_At the Place de la Mairie turn to the right into the Grand Rue._

To visit the interesting church of St. Didier (_hist. mon._) _climb the
rather steep Rue Casimar-Bonjour (accessible to motor-cars), to the
terrace on which stands the church_. Very fine view.

The Church of St. Didier dates from the 16th century. The date of the
choir (1530) is carved on the keystone of the vaulting. The three naves
and main portal were added in 1596. However, the building as a whole is
pointed-flamboyant in style, the ogive being preserved in the arches,
vaultings and transept. The Renaissance style appears only in the
decoration of the capitals, the consoles in the interior, and the doors.
The western façade is late Renaissance, and must have been completed
about the beginning of the 17th century. Its two arched portals retain
their old wooden folding-doors ornamented with rose-headed nails. Above,
in a niche surmounted by a fine rose-window is a modern statue. On the
south an ancient corner turret was rebuilt in 1728. The façade bears the
escutcheon and crowned monogram of Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Bar.


The interior of the choir is imposing. The apse is six-sided--rather an
uncommon arrangement.

In the “Chapelle des Morts,” which opens off the northern nave, near the
transept, there is a Renaissance tomb with a remarkable bas-relief;
below is depicted a nude body lying in a grave, being devoured by worms;
above, three successive panels represent the Weighing of Souls, the
Mirror of Death, and Purgatory. Each subject is accompanied by an
inscription in French verse carved in fine black Gothic characters.
There are few sculptural representations of Purgatory earlier than the
16th century, and this is one of the earliest examples to be found.

=The Presbytery.=--The Presbytery, standing in a narrow street which runs
along the south side of the church, is an old wooden building, the
interior of which is in a perfect state of preservation. In it is kept
an earthenware model dating from 1530, which was brought from the Chapel
of St. Anne. This model, attributed to Ligier Richier, represents the
Virgin receiving the body of Christ after it had been taken down from
the Cross. It has been imperfectly restored and painted.



=Chapel of St. Anne.=--Above the church, on the top of the St. Anne
Plateau, where the fortress used to stand, there now remains only an
unpretending chapel, much frequented by pilgrims. The building has a
wooden front, surmounted by a small steeple, and a stone choir with
pointed vaulting, the flamboyant ornament being in the same style as
that of the St. Didier Church. Four ancient elms give shade to the
parvis and rise high above the steeple. Inside is a sepulchre with six
almost life-size statues, acquired in 1829 when the Church of the
Minimes of Verdun was pulled down. Three only of these statues, the
three Maries, all painted, are late 16th century. The finest, which is
in the centre, is attributed by some to Ligier Richier, but this
appreciation is open to question. Near by there is a hermitage, which at
the beginning of the 17th century belonged to the Benedictines, and
later to the Franciscans. In 1845, the town of Clermont acquired the
whole plateau, the promenade, hermitage, and the chapel. From the
plateau--the highest point in the Argonne--there is a fine and very
extensive view over the Forest of Argonne on the left, and the Forest of
Hesse on the right, while the Vauquois-Montfaucon ridge appears in the



_Return to and follow the Grand Rue which, outside the town, becomes N.
3 and runs alongside the railway to_ =Les Islettes= (_5 km. 800_).

This large market town marks the centre of the valley. In 1789, Arthur
Young, in his “Travels in France,” described it as a “heap of mud and
manure.” Since then it has been drained and embellished. Thatched roofs
are still common there. Its glass-making industry, which formerly
flourished, has greatly declined.

On September 17-20, 1792, while the Prussian Army was advancing towards
the Châlons road and fighting at Valmy, the Austro-Hessians of the
Landgrave of Hesse and of Hohenlohe Kirchberg made two demonstrations
against Les Islettes, but were promptly checked by the French. During
the action of September 20, a bullet killed a gunner near the Landgrave,
who was himself unhorsed.

In 1914, the tunnel of Les Islettes, though mined, was intact on
September 3 when the Germans took the village. A fortnight later the
Germans, driven northwards by the French, evacuated the village. The
Crown Prince, unable to resign himself to the loss of this capital
position on the Châlons-Verdun road and railway, for a whole year (until
the French offensive of September, 1915, in Champagne) made strenuous
efforts to retake Les Islettes, in order to cut this important railway
and turn Verdun. However, his numerous attempts to crush in the French
line all failed. Only once (June 29, 1915) did his troops seriously
threaten the position. On that occasion they got within 8 km. of the
station, but a formidable barrage by the 75’s held them, and French
reserves hurriedly brought up soon drove them back beyond the
Four-de-Paris. Throughout the war the town was an important military
centre, General Headquarters, and food, clothing, and munitions depôts
being established there.


The town, which was somewhat damaged by the bombardments, contains a
very large French military cemetery.

_Outside the town, the road climbs a steep slope and enters the forest._
Pretty view of Les Islettes and the Forest of Argonne (_on the left_).

_N. 3 next reaches_ =Grange-aux-Bois= (_5 km. beyond Les Islettes_), which
takes its name from a house and grange, formerly the den of a gang of
cutthroats who were wiped out in 1514.

The church is of no particular architectural interest, although it
contains some curious statues, notably that of St. Nicolas (18th
century) over the altar in the right aisle.

=St. Menehould= _is next reached_ (_3-1/2 km._), after a pleasant run down
the shady Avenue Victor Hugo, _which crosses the Aisne_.


The origin of this town is uncertain, and its history prior to the
Merovingian epoch obscure. Judging by the Gallo-Roman relics and graves
discovered in the neighbourhood, it seems probable that at an early date
a Pagan temple or Gallo-Roman _castrum_ stood on the rock encircled by
the two arms of the Aisne. Houses gradually arose about the fortress--an
important stronghold prior to the 5th century. During that century,
Count Sygmar held assizes in the château. Sygmar and his seven daughters
were Christians. One of the latter, Manechildis or Manehildis, being of
a religious turn of mind, devoted herself to the care of the sick and
poor, and was greatly beloved in consequence. After her death she was
honoured by the people as a saint, and the town then took her name St.

During the wars of Chilpéric against Sigebert the town was partly
destroyed. More than a hundred years later, towards the end of the 7th
century, Drogon, Duke of Champagne, son of Pépin of Héristal, rebuilt
the castle and surrounded the rock with ramparts. St. Menehould was
frequently besieged. In the 11th century it was attacked by troops of
the Duke of Lorraine and the Bishop of Verdun. In the 12th century the
castle fell into the hands of a robber-chief, Albert or Aubert, who
plundered the Bishoprics of Verdun and Châlons. At the end of the 12th
century St. Menehould was finally included in the County of Champagne.
It became French in the 13th century, after the union of Champagne with
France. In 1398, Charles VI. built a wall round the town proper. In
1423, the English took the town, but the Constable of Richemont
recaptured it in 1435. In 1545, Marini, an Italian engineer, built a new
line of ramparts with moats and four gates. Several years later the
town, ravaged by plague, was attacked by Antoine de Cory, the Calvinist,
who, however, failed to take it. Under the League, the Governor,
Mondreville, sided with the Guises, but could not shake the allegiance
of the burgesses to Henri III. On May 1, 1589, Antoine de Saint-Paul, a
leader of the League, pursued the royal troops as far as the gates of
the town, but the burgesses forced them to retreat after a battle
lasting two hours. In 1590 the Duke of Lorraine tried in vain to reduce
the town by force. In March, 1603, Henri IV., after renouncing the
Protestant faith, visited the faithful city, accompanied by Marie de
Médicis. In 1613, the Prince of Condé and the Duke of Nevers took the
castle by surprise and forced the burgesses to lay down their arms. In
1630, Marillac was imprisoned in the castle for several months. In
December, 1631, and January, 1632, Louis XIII. stayed in the town. In
1634, the King ordered the castle to be pulled down; by mistake the
walls of the town were also razed, and in 1635 they had to be rebuilt.
In October, 1652, during the Fronde, the Great Condé, with an army of
15,000 to 16,000 men and two guns, laid siege to the town, which
eventually capitulated, with the honours of war, after thirteen days of
trench warfare and three assaults. In October of the following year the
royal troops besieged the town in their turn and forced the garrison to
surrender. This siege of 1653 was the last to which the town was
subjected. In 1712, St. Menehould had to pay a war-levy to the Dutch
robber-chief Growenstein. On the night of August 7, 1719, the town was
almost entirely destroyed by fire. It was at St. Menehould in 1791 that
Louis XVI., while attempting to escape from France, was recognised by
Drouet, son of the postmaster of Varennes. On September 3, 1792, the
body of Beaurepaire, Military Commander of Verdun, who committed
suicide rather than surrender to the Prussians, was buried in the town
cemetery. It was before St. Menehould that Dumouriez established himself
while awaiting the arrival of Kellermann, who defeated the Prussians at
Valmy in September 20, 1792.

In 1914, the town was for a long time occupied by the enemy. Early in
August of that year, the first refugees from the neighbourhood of
Longwy, Longuyon, Audun-le-Roman, and the region of the Meuse reached
St. Menehould. On Monday, August 24, the guns in the north-east of the
Argonne were heard in the town. On the 31st the sound of the cannonade
drew nearer, and refugees from the Ardennes flocked in, terrifying the
inhabitants with stories of German pillage and atrocities. On September
1, the horizon towards Monthois was lit up by the incendiary fires, and
the next day the people were advised to leave the town. The banks
closed, and many of the inhabitants left the city, the trains in the
evening being literally taken by storm. The last train left at about ten
o’clock on the morning of the 3rd. Early in the morning of the 4th, the
last French troops marched through the town on their way to Verrières.
At 8.30 companies of a Prussian Reserve Corps, preceded by Uhlans,
entered St. Menehould by the Moiremont road and destroyed the
telegraphic and telephonic apparatus at the post-office and the station.
The Germans, exasperated by the evacuation of the inhabitants, hastened
to pillage the deserted houses and shops. The tobacco warehouse, the
Caïffa stores, and the cellars of Quesnel the wine-merchant were emptied
and the contents sent away on army waggons.

Of the population only eighty-two men had remained, twelve of whom were
obliged to present themselves each morning at six o’clock before the
Kommandantur, as surety for the order and peace of the town. Six men by
day and six by night were kept as hostages by the German sentries, first
at the Maison Viard, where the Kommandantur was housed, and then at the
Hôtel-de-Metz. The Mayor was kept busy by the German requisitions. From
Nettancourt, where the Crown Prince was reported to be, came an officer
to demand champagne, fine wines, and liqueurs. On the Mayor’s declaring
that there was nothing left the officer lost his temper and threatened
to have him shot. General von Schaeffendorf, commanding the VIth
Artillery Corps, took up his residence at the Château de la Mignonnerie.
Headquarters were established in the Maison Géraudel, Rue de la Force,
where the Duke of Wurtemberg was erroneously reported to have been
housed. The able-bodied men of the town were commandeered for
fatigue-duty and for the cleaning of the streets. A day or two before
evacuating the town, the Germans requisitioned 6,000 bottles of claret,
but left them behind in the hurry of their departure.

On September 13, a cannonade was heard from the south. On the 14th,
there was great excitement in the German garrison, regimental
baggage-trains passed through the town northwards and the Staff prepared
to leave. In the morning the enemy troops streamed along the Verrières
and Daucourt roads, soon followed by the garrison and waggon-loads of
stolen furniture. The Municipal Buildings, Savings Banks, and
Post-office were full of German sick and wounded, only part of whom
could be evacuated through lack of ambulances. There was a speeding up
of the retreat, resulting in great confusion, the bridge, Faubourg de
Verrières and Rue de Vitry being encumbered with German troops on the
way to Moiremont and Chaudefontaine. Shortly afterwards an enemy battery
of 77’s, which had taken up a position on the Verrières road, withdrew
at a gallop through the town, while the last German troops fled along
the Rue de Prés towards the Pont des Maures. Almost immediately
afterwards the French artillery occupied the ridge of Bel-Air and opened
fire on the retreating enemy columns. At about 5.30 p.m. the French
advance-guards, cyclists and light cavalry entered St. Menehould. A
Prussian laggard was shot in the Avenue Kellermann on his refusal to
surrender. At 7 p.m. General Cordonnier arrived in the town, which was
occupied by the 51st Regiment of the line, and a continuous stream of
French troops passed through, following up the pursuit in the direction
of Ville-sur-Tourbe, Vienne-la-Ville and Florent.

[Illustration: SAINTE-MENEHOULD TOWN AND CHÂTEAU (_old engraving_)]

While the trench warfare lasted the headquarters, supply-depôts and
hospitals for the Argonne front were centred in St. Menehould, and for
four years it was entirely given over to military activities. Frequently
bombarded, the first shells were fired at the station at 4.30 a.m. on
April 26, 1915, when some houses were struck and two civilians killed.
On July 20 of the same year another bombardment was directed by
aeroplanes. At 1.30 a.m. on August 28, an aeroplane dropped a few bombs.
On September 14, a heavy bombardment set fire to the evacuation
hospital, killing two civilians, one of whom, M. Bocquillon, the Deputy
Mayor (acting for the Mayor, who was ill), was struck on his way to the

During 1918 the town was frequently bombed by enemy aeroplanes.


_On arriving by the Avenue Victor Hugo, after crossing the bridge over
the Aisne_, the Gendarmerie, _at No. 8 on the right_, should be noticed.
It is the old post-house where Louis XVI. was recognised during his
flight in 1791. Over a door which opens into the Rue de la
Porte-des-Bois, the word “Poste” carved in the stone may still be seen.

The royal carriage stopped near this post-house in broad daylight,
arousing the curiosity of the bystanders by its imposing appearance and
by the respect paid to the traveller and his family by the members of
his suite. The postmaster, Drouet, thought he recognised Louis XVI.,
whom he had seen at Versailles, and he was confirmed in his belief by an
_assignat_ (paper money) with the king’s head stamped upon it, which had
just been given him.

After the departure of the carriage, Drouet followed it to Varennes,
where he caught it up and had the royal family arrested.


_The Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville is next reached with the_ Hôtel-de-Ville,
an 18th century building, _on the right_ (_photo above_).

_Cross the “Place,” keeping to the left, via the Rue Chanzy, which is
the main street. On the right, at No. 33, is the_ Hôtel-de-Metz, an old
inn on the road from Metz to Paris, formerly well known, the original
kitchen of which has preserved its ample dimensions and innumerable
copper utensils.

_The Rue Chanzy ends on the bank of the Aisne at the Place d’Austerlitz.
At the sharp turning on the left, before crossing this “place,” take the
Rue de la Côte-du-Château, then the Rue des Ormes, which leads to_ the

 [2] The church is reached by a flight of steps; the entrance is close
 to No. 72, Rue Chanzy.

The church, surrounded by a graveyard, stands on a rock in the centre of
the old town, of which nothing is left but fragments of the castle and
some ruined walls to the south and south-west. The church was built in
the 13th and 14th centuries. Its exterior is massive; the main doorway
is hidden by a modern porch. Beyond the Chapel of the Virgin, on the
right of the choir, a low sacristy was added at the end of the 17th or
beginning of the 18th century. Some fine fragments of earlier sculpture
(five panels depicting scenes from the Passion, and three richly
decorated canopies) have been incrusted in the outside walls. Tombstones
have been built into the walls on either side of the doorway in the left
transept, at the entrance to the church.

The interior consists of five naves with low vaulting. In the left arm
of the transept, under a tri-cusped pointed arcade, the group “The Death
of the Virgin,” represents the Virgin recumbent, with children reading
and clinging to her hands and feet, and eight weeping women carrying
books. In the chapel on the left of the choir there is a 17th century
picture--a view of St. Menehould, with three figures, one of which is
the Patron-Saint of the town; the other two are supposed to be Louis
XIII. and Richelieu. Behind this chapel, which was formerly used for the
ceremonies of the town-guilds, is a recess called the Treasury, a small
vaulted 15th century room opening on the choir. The polygonal choir
presents a fine appearance with its five slightly pointed windows,
framed by two archivolts, supported on little columns with Romanesque
capitals. All around is an elegant 13th century arcade, screened with
rather heavy woodwork. The last nave on the right consists of three
separate 14th century chapels. The capitals of the aisles represent
human heads. The chapel of the Virgin contains a curious capital
representing an oak laden with acorns, towards which a peasant is
driving three pigs. This Chapel was founded in 1552 by the Lord de
Saulx, and was used from the end of the 16th century onward by the Guild
of Vine-dressers, who had the vaulting painted with frescoes. It is also
known as the Chapel of our Lady of the Vines. Formerly it contained a
number of tombstones, since removed. There is still to be seen, in one
of the chapels off the right aisle, a large and very fine 15th century
tombstone with effigies of Jean Toignel and his wife under a handsomely
carved Renaissance pediment.

_Take the Rue du Cimetière, which passes behind the church, then the Rue
Basse-du-Château, which leads to a path skirting the old walls of the
castle. From this path there is_ a fine view over the town, the Valleys
of the Aisne and the Auve, and the surrounding hills. _Go round the
cliffs and return to the steps which lead down to the Rue Chanzy._

SECOND DAY: Sainte-Menehould, Varennes, Montfaucon, Grandpré,
Vienne-le-Château, La Gruerie Wood, Le Four-de-Paris, La Haute-Chevauchée
and La Chalade.

Distance: 130 km.



_From St. Menehould to Clermont-en-Argonne (15 km.) take the same road
as the first day (see pp. 31-70)._

_On reaching the Place de la Mairie at Clermont, turn to the left, cross
the railway, leave I.C. 60 on the right, and keep straight on. G.C.D. 2
runs straight from Clermont to_ =Neuvilly= (_6 km. 500_).

During the trench warfare of 1914 to 1918, this road was often swept by
the German artillery. At the beginning of September, 1914, Neuvilly was
taken by the enemy, but a fortnight later it was recaptured by the

[Illustration: NEUVILLY, _seen from behind the_ CHURCH. _At the back_:


Until the end of the war it was in close proximity to the front lines,
and was frequently shelled.

_Opposite the church of Neuvilly the road joins N. 46, which take to the

_3 km. 500 further on_, the original front lines are crossed.
=Boureuilles= _lies 1-1/2 km. beyond_.


The village of Boureuilles-on-the-Aire has completely disappeared. As
early as November, 1914, it had been reduced to a mere heap of stones
and rubbish.


After being rushed by the French on January 4, 1915, it was retaken by
the Germans, who held it until the Franco-American offensive of
September 26, 1918.

_2 km. 500 beyond Boureuilles the tourist comes to_ =Varennes.=


(_N. 46 crosses the bridge._)]


_On June 21, 1791, Louis XVI. and his suite, in their flight from Paris,
halted here late at night to enquire the way._]


_Enter the upper town by the Rue des Religieuses (or Rue de
l’Hôtel-de-Ville). The first house on the right is the_ Maison de
Préfontaine (_photo above_), which is still as it was when, on June 21,
1791, at 11 o’clock at night, Louis XVI. and his suite, in their flight
from Paris, knocked at the door to ask their way.

_On the other side of the street is the Place du Château, where there
are_ some German soldiers’ graves.

_The Rue de la Basse-Cour--a continuation of the Rue des
Religieuses--crosses the Place du Marché (photo below) in which stands,
on the left_, the ruined house of Sauce, the grocer, Procureur of the
Commune, in which Louis XVI. passed the night. This house, formerly No.
28, had, until the war, remained much as it was in 1791.


_Ruins of house where Louis XVI. was arrested._]


_N. 46 crosses the bridge._]

Drouet, who recognised the King at St. Menehould (_p. 68_) reached
Varennes before him, by a short-cut. The whole town, aroused by the
tocsin, assembled, and compelled the carriage of the king to stop.

The arrest of Louis XVI. was made at the Bras d’Or Inn, the site of
which was afterwards occupied by three houses, one of which was No. 340
(_the bottom photograph_ on p. 74 shows the ruins of these houses).

The king and his family stayed at Sauce’s house until the morning, when
they were taken back to Paris.

At the Mairie the authentic official report of the arrest of Louis XVI.
may be seen.

_Keep along the Rue de la Basse-Cour, then cross the Aire which divides
the upper from the lower town (visited on the first day, p. 52)._


_Seen from N. 46, coming from Neuvilly. At back: Ruined Church._]


_The ruined village is on the top of the hillside._]

_Beyond the bridge, take G.C._ 38 _to the right for_ 1 _km_. 800, _then
G.C._ 19 _on the left,_ 2 _km. beyond Varennes, after crossing the
Buanthe_, =Cheppy= _is reached_.

This village, with its interesting church, remained within the German
lines from 1914 to 1918, being retaken by the Americans on September 26,
1918. Frequently bombarded by aeroplanes and artillery, especially
during the Battle of Verdun, it was completely wiped out.



_The Itinerary follows the left-hand road, at fork, to Montfaucon._]

_To visit the ruins, turn to the left at the first houses along the
road, which runs past the quarries for 400 yards (photo below)._

_Return to G.C. 19. At the end of the village (photo above) the road
divides. Leave the road lying straight ahead, which leads to Avocourt,
and follow G.C. 19 on the left, through_ =Chéhémont Wood=, _and cross a
great plain dominated by the_ Montfaucon Ridge.

_Five hundred yards before reaching_ =Montfaucon=, _take the road on the
right which, at Montfaucon, joins the road from Malancourt_.

Montfaucon is 8 km. from Cheppy.


_Ruins of Cheppy in the background._]


This very old market town, whose origin is said to date back to the end
of the 6th century, grew up around a monastery founded by St. Balderic,
son of Sigebert I., King of Austrasia.

It was below Montfaucon that Count Eudes, in June, 888 or 889, aided by
several nobles, including Marc de Doulcon, is said to have inflicted a
bloody defeat on the Normans. The Chronicler, Abbon le Courbe, tells
how, after the defeat of the Normans before Paris, Eudes, pursuing them
across Champagne and the Argonne, caught them up near Montfaucon. After
a terrific struggle the Normans were cut to pieces and 19,000 of them
were left on the battlefield. In 1081, Godefroy de Bouillon, Duke of
Basse-Lorraine, built a castle-fortress there, which, however, he
dismantled before leaving for the Crusade in 1096. Another castle was
subsequently erected on the same site. In 1349 the Flagellants, who as a
penance marched in procession, scourging themselves publicly, passed
through Montfaucon under the leadership of Gilles de Rodennack, Lord of


During the Hundred Years’ War the district was frequently ravaged by
bands of robbers, in consequence of which Charles V. authorised the
inhabitants to build a wall round the town. In 1387 the town suffered
during the war between the burgesses of Verdun and three neighbouring
lords. During the religious wars the town was taken and burned (1552).
In 1591, Henri IV. razed the castle, of which not a trace remains.

In 1636, Montfaucon was once again ravaged by war, the enemy burning the
whole town, one house only being left standing. The Parish Church of St.
Laurent caught fire, and a number of the inhabitants who had taken
refuge there perished in the flames.


_Overlooking Montfaucon Wood, Cheppy Wood, Hesse Forest, and Clermont

On September 9, 1792, Montfaucon was occupied by Prussian troops under

In 1914, after the battle of the Marne, the Crown Prince had his
headquarters there for a few days, before establishing himself at
Stenay. The French 40th Infantry Division, during the retreat at the end
of September, forced the Bavarians to fall back on the woods of
Montfaucon, but the Germans quickly consolidated their positions on the
ridge, from which it was impossible to dislodge them.


_The Itinerary follows I.C. 4, on the right to Cierges._]

From the end of 1914 to 1918 they continued to improve the defence-works
of this naturally strong position, making it the centre of their
intermediate positions between the Hindenburg line and the
“Kriemhildestellung,” or second line of defence. It also provided them
with a splendid observation-post, from which to survey the whole of the
surrounding French lines. Another observation-post had been installed in
the church, from which the enemy could see Verdun, and this post played
a great part during the battle. The village, frequently pounded by the
French heavy batteries, was reduced to ruins.

It was retaken by the Americans on September 26-27, 1918, after
desperate fighting with the German 37th Division, but only when it had
been surrounded, and Septsarges, Nantillois and Ivoiry had fallen.


The site of Montfaucon is an unusual and striking one; unfortunately,
the town was almost entirely ruined.

_At the junction of the road from Malancourt, turn to the left, passing
shortly afterwards in front of_ a concrete observation-post (_photo, p.
79_). _Keep along the principal street as far as the fork, where take
the uphill street on the right, turning immediately again to the right,
and coming out at the top of the ridge near the ruins of the church._
Several observation-posts may be visited, including one inside the
church (_photo below_).


The old Collegiate Church was surrounded by 17th century houses, built
on the site of the old cloister, and inhabited by the canons. Below this
part of the town several underground tunnels, since walled-up, were

The porch and the vestibule of the church dated from the 14th century,
the other parts were rebuilt or restored in 1597 and 1781.

In the steeple a stone staircase of eighty steps led to the belfry,
whence wooden stairs ascended to a platform in the spire, in which six
openings gave a far-reaching view over the surrounding country. This
platform, 170 feet above the base of the church, had a total altitude of
about 1,240 feet. In the direction of Verdun the forts of Marre and
Dugny could be seen, and, still further away (about 25 miles), the
heights which dominate Souilly. To the south-west lie the plains of St.
Menehould, and on the west the plain and plateaux of Champagne. In the
same direction, in clear weather, the Fort of Berru, near Rheims, is
visible. The panorama further embraces the following: _on the
north-east_, the whole of the region of Grandpré; _on the north_,
Carignan and Montmédy; _on the east_, the heights of the Meuse, seven
miles away, shut in the horizon, hiding Damvillers and the Woëvre. From
the top of the ridge may be seen: _on the south_, the 1916 battlefield
of Verdun; _on the north_, the terrain of the offensive of September 26,
1918. Between the Meuse and the Aire, from Brieulles-sur-Meuse to
Grandpré, the line of villages, woods and hills, which, after being
fortified, formed the formidable German position known as the
“Kriemhildestellung,” should be noticed. Certain points in this line
were only carried in October, and even at the beginning of November,
1918. Several of them, like Hill 299 to the north-east of Cunel and
north-west of Brieulles, were taken, lost and retaken several times by
the Americans.

_Return by the Rue de l’Eglise to I.C. 4, which take to the right down
the hill. Half-way down, at the fork, take I.C. 4, on the right, to_
=Cierges= (_4 km. 500 from Montfaucon_).

From 1914 to 1918 the Germans had an aviation camp at Cierges. The camp
and station were frequently bombed by the Allied aviators. In September,
1918, during the first days of the American offensive, fires broke out
in the village, to which the Germans held on stubbornly. On the 28th,
they launched several counter-attacks, but at the beginning of October
were forced to abandon the village. On October 4, the capture of Gesnes
(through which the tourist passes on his way to Exermont) finally
cleared Cierges.

_On reaching the Rue de l’Eglise, turn along the first road on the left,
which, 1 km. 300 beyond Cierges, runs into G.C. 2 bis._

_Turn to the right and follow G.C. 2 bis for 1 km., then take the Chemin
Vicinal (local road) on the left--German dug-outs, 200 yards away on the
left--which leads to the interesting village of_ =Gesnes=, lying in a
little valley. Many of the houses were destroyed.

_The road passes in front of the church, then turns to the left, skirts_
a German cemetery, _then goes straight to_ =Exermont= (_8 km. 800 from
Cierges_). Numbers of German dug-outs, sometimes forming veritable
villages, are met with on the way.


The folklore of the district, like that of many villages in the Argonne
and the Ardennes, is rich in stories of fairies, demons and witches.
Near the well called Fontaine-St. Germain, about a kilometre north of
the village, is a place called “Ronde-de-Danses,” where the grass never
grows. Here, the fairies of the “Château d’Ariétal,” near the spring of
the same name, used to meet and dance all night.


Exermont was retaken by the Americans on September 28 1918.

[Illustration: GESNES VILLAGE AND CHURCH, _seen coming from Cierges_]

_Beyond the church turn to the left and at the fork_, 300 _yards after
the last houses, take the left-hand road (I.C. 4). After crossing the
river and over Hill 183, the road cuts N. 46. passes over the river
Aire, then the railway (l.c.), and after joining the Apremont road,
enters_ =Châtel-Chéhéry= (_4 km. 300 from Exermont_).

This village, which suffered little (_photo, p._ 84), was abandoned by
the Germans without much resistance, on October 7, 1918. in the face of
the advance by the Americans, who had, however, encountered great
difficulty in capturing the outskirts.

Gérard de Melcy, one of the heroes of the siege of Sebastopol, was
buried in the cemetery which surrounds the church.

[Illustration: EXERMONT. GERMAN PRISONERS] During the Franco-American
offensive of September, 1918, the Americans found among the papers of
the German Town-Major the following document.


_Behind the latter, I.C. 4 leading to Exermont._]

which throws light on the German methods of treating the inhabitants of
occupied districts:--

“33rd General Divisional Headquarters,
“10th May, 1916.

“We have absolutely no reason to be lenient with the French population.


I order a fresh examination of the taxable capacity of the inhabitants,
and no misplaced feeling of sympathy with the people of the district
must be allowed to affect that enquiry. It would be well to consider
whether, with this end in view, we might not occasionally imprison some
of the inhabitants.

“(Signed) Vollbrecht.”

_Pass in front of the church and keep straight on. Cross the Boulasson
Stream and follow the road past the foot of the promontory on which the_
=Château of Cornay= _used to stand_. This castle comprised several forts:
Camp-Crochet, Vieux-Château, Grand Bel, and Petit Bel, all separated by
deep trenches and connected by underground passages. A cross called
“Croix-de-Bayle” now stands on the site of the “Grand Bel.” There is a
tradition that this cross was erected to commemorate “the extinction of
heresy,” Protestants having been numerous in the district. The fortress
is said to have been destroyed during the Wars of the League.


_I.C. 4 leading to Marcq._]

The pretty little village of =Cornay= (_photo above_) which _is soon
reached, is 2 km. from Châtel_.

Burned down by the troops of Charles-Quint in 1552, it was rebuilt
beside the ruins.

The church dates from the 12th century, but was frequently restored. The
last restoration dates from 1854, and is in harmony with the original
style of the building.

_Opposite Cornay, on the right bank of the Aire, is_ =Fléville=, which
possesses a fine 16th century château. This village was taken by the
Americans on October 4, 1918, whilst Cornay and Marcq, the next village,
were only evacuated by the Germans on October 9 and 10.

_Leave the Church of Cornay on the left and at the fork at the end of
the village, take the left-hand road_ (_I.C._ 20) _which crosses the
valley_ (traces of artillery emplacements). _At the first houses of_
=Marcq= _the road crosses that from St. Juvin._ _At the crossing there is
a_ large German cemetery.


_Many of the houses at Marcq_ (_2 km. 800 from Cornay_) were destroyed.

_Pass through the village and keep straight on to_ =Chevières= (2 _km_.),
completely burned down by the Germans previous to their departure
(_photo above_).

_Two kilometres beyond Chevières the road crosses the railway (l.c.) and
runs into the Senuc road. Turn to the right and cross the Aire._
=Grandpré=, a pretty little town, many of whose houses have been
destroyed, _is next reached_ (_2 km. 900 from Chevières_).

[Illustration: B. CO. OF 303RD ENGINEERS (78TH INF. DIV.) BUILDING
back_: GRANDPRÉ.]


Grandpré lies at the eastern end of the pass formed by the Valley of the
Aire, which cuts deeply into the Argonne. The town is very old. To the
south, on the Nègremont Mountain, there are traces of a camp which is
supposed to be Roman. Attila, after his defeat in the _Champs
Catalauniques_, also camped there, and long after him, Dumouriez. The
village was possibly founded or extended by a follower of Clovis, who
built a château there, but of which nothing now remains. Grandpré was
pillaged in 884, by the Normans; during the Hundred Years’ War, by the
English; and, under the League, by the rival troops of the Marshal of
St. Paul, Mayenne, and Henri IV. The latter stayed there in 1591. His
letter of October 3, 1591, in which he relates the events of the
preceding days, was dated from Grandpré. During the _Fronde_ the country
was again ravaged, and at a later date, pillaged by the Dutchman

In 1792, Dumouriez had his headquarters at Grandpré, and after the
battles of Croix-aux-Bois and Montcheutin, the headquarters of the King
of Prussia were transferred there. In October of the same year, during
the Prussian defeat, Grandpré was crowded with enemy sick, struck down
by dysentery.


According to Goethe, the castle was at that time the abode of pestilence
and death; the neighbourhood of the village, thickly strewn with corpses
and graves, was one gigantic cemetery.

During the war of 1914-1918 the German camps and military works at
Grandpré were frequently bombed by the Allied airmen. Only at the end of
September, 1918, did the Franco-American troops recapture the village
after a long and severe struggle.

On a terrace, in grounds to the north of the village, stands a château
in the style of Louis XIII., which is but the main entrance of an old
and larger castle belonging to the Dukes of Joyeuse. This castle, in
which Charles VI. lodged when on his way to the Ardennes, was rebuilt by
_Louis de Joyeuse_, assisted by the generosity of Louis XI. Joubert,
Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Italy, was married to Mlle. de
Montholon Senonville in this castle on the 7th Messidor of the year
VII. (June 26, 1799). The castle was destroyed by fire in 1834.


_The road passes slightly to the right of the Church_--a large, handsome
building of yellow stone (_hist. mon.--photo above_), which suffered
greatly from the bombardments.

Dating from the 13th century, when it formed part of the old Priory of
St. Médard, it had frequently been restored and altered. The pulpit and
the choir-stalls were composed of fragments of magnificent 16th century
woodwork, brought from the Abbey of Belval. The church contains the tomb
of Claude de Joyeuse, a remarkable monument in black marble.

_One hundred yards beyond the village, turn to the left, into I.C. 15,
which leads to_ =Termes= (_3 km. 500 from Grandpré_).

Many of the houses in Termes were destroyed. _Pass in front of_ the
church, which has lost the top of its steeple (_photo, p._ 89). In the
interior there is an old holy-water basin shaped like a mortar.



_5 km. north of Grandpré._]

_Opposite Termes, stands the village of_ =Senuc=, which dominates the
junction of the Aire and the Aisne.

In 1918 the position of Senuc, strongly fortified by the Germans, was
taken by the French troops after a long struggle.


_I.C. 15 at the corner of Olizy road._]

_Keep along I.C. 15, which leads straight to_ =Mouron= (2 _km._ 700).

It was between Termes and Mouron that, on October 2, 1792, the Prussian
Army, retreating after the Battle of Valmy, recrossed the Aisne on two
pontoon-bridges. Goethe, who was standing between the two bridges,
watched the disappointed and exhausted troops go by.

The King of Prussia and the Duke of Brunswick, with their staff, brought
up the rear. “Both,” wrote Goethe, “paused for a moment before crossing
the bridge, as if reluctant to abandon the Plains of Champagne, where
they had just suffered a humiliating defeat.”

Mouron and Vaux guard the entrance to the Grandpré Pass--the easiest
pass of the Argonne.

In 1792, Dumouriez concentrated the greater part of his army there,
leaving practically undefended the passes of Les Islettes,
Croix-aux-Bois and Chesne.


In 1918, the Germans clung desperately to these positions, from which
the French had to drive them by main force.

The Church of Mouron is modern, but contains some interesting 17th
century woodwork.

_On leaving the village, take the left-hand road, which soon crosses
first the Aisne (photo above), then the railway (l.c.), reaching_
=Vaux-lez-Mouron= (_1 km. 200 from Mouron_).

_The road runs along the south side of Vaux Church, and after passing
the portal, goes straight ahead._

_About 100 yards beyond the church, leave the Challerange road on the
right, and continue for another 800 yards, where the I.C. 21 joins up.
Turn into the latter on the left._


1 _km. 800 further on, after crossing the I.C._, the edge of Autry Wood
_will be reached_. _On the right will be seen_ a village built by the
Germans (_photo above_).

_I.C. 21 now runs through the wood, which was strongly fortified by the
Germans from 1914 to 1918._

_On leaving it at the fork in the road, turn to the left; 500 yards
further on, at another fork, turn again to the left, reaching_ =Autry=
_soon afterwards_ (6 km. 300 _from Vaux_).



_50 yards to the left of G.C. 66 (coming from Autry) and 150 yards this
side of Binarville._]

Autry, like all the surrounding villages, has had a chequered history.

It was besieged and taken by the English in 1359. At the beginning of
the 17th century it was practically a deserted ruin.

Under the _Fronde_ it suffered again. The Lord of Autry was one of the
four knights who bore the canopy of the Sacred Ampulla during the
consecration of the kings at Rheims.

_The road winds round the rock on which stands_ the ruined church. St.
Lambert’s Chapel in the cemetery contains some interesting frescoes.

The château, which is below the church, dates from 1635.


_Along G.C. 66, below site of destroyed Church._]

(_Feb. 2, 1916_).]

_Leave Autry by two bridges across the Aisne._

_Beyond the second bridge and the second house, there is a German
structure under the cliff, on the right._

_On the left is the road to_ =Lançon=, the village where the French and
American troops effected their junction during the offensive of
September-October, 1918.

_Keep along I.C. 21 in the direction of_ =Binarville.= _1 km. 700 beyond
Autry, leave the road to Condé-les-Autry on the right. 500 yards this
side of Binarville and 200 yards before the fork with G.C. 66 coming
from Varennes, there is_ a French military cemetery _on the left_.


_G.C. 66, between Servon and St. Thomas._]

_Just before reaching Binarville, fifty yards to the left of the road,
are_ two large German concrete structures, a post of commandment, and a
telephone exchange (_photo, p._ 92).

The village of Binarville, and the adjacent hamlet of =Mare-aux-Bœufs=,
were occupied by the Germans from 1914 to 1918, and were only recaptured
in September, 1918, by the French 4th Army.

Binarville was completely destroyed.

_Outside the village, leave on the left the (impassable) road from
Vienne-le-Château, and keep straight on along G.C. 66._

_Two kilometres further on_, a few houses in ruins mark the site of
Mare-aux-Bœufs. _Keep to the left, leaving on the right the road from

_Fire hundred yards beyond Mare-aux-Bœufs, on the left, there is_ a
German post of commandment in concrete, with rooms, shelter and
telephone exchange. An Iron Cross is carved on one of the doors.


_Keep along G.C. 66, past numerous defence-works and shelters, some in

This region, an excellent artillery position and a veritable stronghold,
from which the Germans launched many counter-attacks against the right
flank of the French 4th Army, during the offensive of September 26,
1918, was liberated by the French on September 30, after a heroic

_Five kilometres beyond Binarville is_ =Servon.=

It was near Servon that, on August 25th, 1786, the aeronaut Blanchard,
on his way from Lille to Paris, where he hoped to present a bouquet to
the King, was forced to descend after being carried out of his course by
contrary winds.

Occupied by the Germans since September, 1914, and strongly fortified by
them, the village and surrounding country were attacked by the French on
September 25, 1915, during a minor offensive, intended to cover the main
attack in Champagne. The French, after a short advance, were forced to
retire on their original positions, in consequence of counter-attacks
debouching from Servon.

The village was only retaken on September 26, 1918, by the French 4th
Army, which, on the evening of the same day, reached the wood 1 km. 500
to the north-east of the village, after a fierce struggle.

To-day Servon is an absolute ruin. The cemetery alone, on the left of
the road, indicates the site of the village.

Below the ruins of the church, which stood on the top of the hill on
which the village was built, several German shelters (_photo, p._ 92)
may still be seen _along G.C._ 66.


_Alongside the road from Servon._]

Immediately beyond these shelters _turn into the road on the left, which
runs through the village;_ on both sides are other defence-works.

_Outside the village, leave the (impassable) Vienne-le-Château road on
the left, and keep straight on._

_G.C. 66 runs alongside the Aisne as far as_ =St. Thomas=, _then passes
by_ trenches and barbed-wire entanglements--the remains of the old
German front lines.

_Shortly afterwards_, the old French front lines _are reached_. _To the
right, on the left bank of the Aisne, is seen_ the hamlet of =Melzicourt=,
which the French retook on October 25, 1914.

All through the trench warfare the French line ran through the
Melzicourt Ford.

_Two kilometres beyond Servon, by the side of the road_, are large
shelters of stone and cement (_photo, p._ 92). _Opposite is_ a French
military cemetery (_photo, p._ 95). _Two kilometres further on_ =St.
Thomas= _is reached_.


(_St. Thomas’ Sector._)]

The little village of St. Thomas formerly possessed a rich priory,
founded in 1096 by Robert, Abbot of St. Méry, and Manassés, Archbishop
of Rheims.

The modern church was built on the site of the Priory Chapel, destroyed
during the Revolution.

The village has completely disappeared; of the church only a few broken
fragments of wall remain.

_On leaving St. Thomas, G.C. 66 winds down into the valley of the
Biesme, passes near_ a military cemetery, _crosses the valley, then
divides_. _Take the left-hand road (G.C. 67) which soon passes near_ the
farm of La Renarde, _then alongside_ a large military cemetery, _finally
reaching_ =Vienne-le-Château= (_3 km. beyond St. Thomas_).


_Seen from G.C. 66 going towards Servon._]



This very picturesque, industrial and forestal village was a royal
provostship before the Revolution.

In the 6th century it belonged to the Bishops of Verdun.

The castle-fortress on the hill which dominates the town to the west was
razed in 959 by the Count of Grandpré.

Later, it was several times rebuilt and demolished. Fragments of the
ramparts may still be seen.

In the 12th century the district was purchased by the Count of Bar.

Vienne-le-Château was shelled by the Germans, especially in 1914 and
1915. The greater part of the village was wiped out, but the church and
neighbouring Town Hall did not greatly suffer.



The church dates from the 15th century, with the exception of the
façade, which is 18th century.

_G.C. 67, after turning to the right, passes by the Town Hall, and
follows the valley of the Biesme._

This almost straight river is often called “the canal” by the


The road hereabouts is very picturesque, and one of the finest in the
Argonne. It runs south of the woods of =Gruerie=, =Bolante= and =Chalade=,
_i.e._, through that part of the forest where, in 1914-1915, the battles
which have made the Argonne famous were fought. Of the many famous
places in this forest those most accessible to tourists are mentioned
and described in the order in which they may be visited without unduly
prolonging the itinerary.


_One kilometre from Vienne-le-Château, take on the left a road, made
during the war, which crosses the Biesme, and then follow the right
bank, past_ numerous constructions and shelters (_photos above and
below_), to =La Harazée.=

In this village, completely ruined, near a French military cemetery,
_G.C._ 67, _coming from the left bank of the Biesme, is joined_.

_Take the small path which first runs alongside a stream, then climbs
towards_ =Gruerie Wood=, for 500 yards, to see the battlefield. The wood,
which was hacked to pieces by the shells, contains numerous
defence-works of all kinds, and makes an impressive sight. _Further
along the road are_ the German front lines.


_At back_: GRUERIE WOOD]

Gruerie Wood in 1914-1915

Gruerie Wood, which the _poilus_ called “Tuerie Wood” (Slaughter Wood),
was one of the most active and dangerous sectors on the Western front
from September, 1914, to the end of 1915. The conditions of warfare
there were particularly trying. Attack followed attack almost without a
pause, generally preceded by mine explosions, and often developing into
ferocious hand-to-hand struggles. In this wood, sectors like the
_Pavillon de Bagatelle_, and the valleys of the _Fontaine-aux-Charmes_
and _Fontaine-Madame_, were the most fiercely contested.


From Bagatelle a path leads to Fontaine-aux-Charmes, following the
stream of that name (which falls into the Biesme at La Harazée), and
then running beside the stream of Fontaine-Madame. These two streams, on
the south-east of Bagatelle, enclose a plateau broken by ravines and
hills, along which the French advanced in September and October, 1914,
threatening the German lines of communication through the Argonne. The
Germans repeatedly tried to force them back south of the Servon-Varennes
road, and to slip in through the valley of Fontaine-aux-Charmes, towards
La Harazée. In December, 1914, they attacked Fontaine-Madame six times
and Bagatelle three times. In January, 1915, attacks and counter-attacks
occurred almost daily. From the 16th to the 26th, fifteen German attacks
were launched in succession between Fontaine-Madame and St. Hubert,
lying to the south-east, on the stream of Fontaine-au-Mortier. The
French replied by immediate counter-attacks, and in the terrible
fighting which followed each side gained a hundred yards or so of
trenches. On the 27th, the Germans launched three attacks in the
direction of Bagatelle, while two days later the whole of the XXVIIth
Wurtemberg Division, previously drugged with alcohol and ether, hurled
themselves against the same position. The French left gave way, but
retook part of the lost ground after six counter-attacks. The struggle
continued on the following days, and, after heavy losses on both sides,
the Germans were repulsed twice during the night of January 29, once on
January 30, once on February 1, three times on the 2nd, twice on the 4th
and 7th. On February 17, 1915, while a French offensive was developing
in the district of Hurius-in-Champagne, the French troops in the Argonne
attacked the enemy, to prevent reinforcements being sent from that part
of the front. On the right bank of the Fontaine-aux-Charmes stream they
blew up a German blockhouse, and subsequently shelled the
gun-emplacement with a 65 mm. gun at 400 yards range. The most important
operation was directed against the German position of the _Blanleuil
Croupe_, lying between _Sec Ravin_ and the _Ravine of Fontaine-Madame_,
from which it was possible to enfilade the Bagatelle salient. Three mine
chambers were made under the German lines. The attacking troops were
divided into three waves: the first (one company), after the explosion
of the mines, was to seize the position, pass it, and push on; the
second (one company) was to consolidate the captured position; the third
(a battalion) was to reinforce the attacking party and exploit the
success. Each assaulting column was preceded by a bomb-thrower and
followed by sappers with sand-bags and entrenching tools. At 8 a.m. the
mines were fired, one of them blowing up a German mine. Two


_Awaiting inspection by General commanding Sector._]

minutes later the three assaulting columns, led by their officers,
dashed forward. The position, attacked from three sides, was taken, and
a hundred Germans were killed in the trenches. Four prisoners and a
machine-gun were captured. At 8.30 the French held 350 yards of the
German trench, and reached the second line, which was full of Germans.
The enemy then launched fierce counter-attacks, which gave them back
their second line. On the French side the second wave had arrived to
reinforce the first company in the captured position. Two machine-guns
mowed down the advancing Germans, but were in turn put out of action by
the enemy, who renewed their counter-attacks with grenades. The French
were reinforced by two companies of the third wave, the third company
being used to revictual the combatants with grenades, bombs, and
sand-bags. The Germans renewed their counter-attacks, but were driven
back. Between 1.30 and 3 p.m., after a violent bombardment with
artillery and _minenwerfer_, which churned up the ground, the enemy
counter-attacked the French right in force with bayonets, but were
checked. The attack was renewed with grenades and bombs, and this time
the Germans advanced through all the trenches in the vicinity. After a
heroic resistance the French had to give way, and at about 4.30 p.m. the
position was lost. The enemy then attacked the rest of the trench on the
flank; under an incessant hail of bombs, the French were forced to
withdraw, retreating step by step--200 yards in two hours--with a loss
of 40 per cent of their forces. Little by little, their ammunition
exhausted, and in the face of the impossibility of bringing up supplies,
they were obliged to abandon the position and return to the trench from
which they had started. A company of Chasseurs fought for two hours with
German rifles and ammunition, and with unexploded German bombs. On March
1 another desperate struggle took place at Blanleuil. At about 7.15 a.m.
three enemy mines exploded under the French trenches, and the Germans
rushed into the craters, overwhelming two companies in the first line,
the survivors of which fought hand-to-hand. The Germans, heavily
reinforced, made considerable progress in Fontaine-Madame ravine, but a
counter-attack by a French battalion stopped and held them. At nightfall
another battalion counter-attacked in a snow-storm, and after four hours
of bayonet fighting recaptured the greater part of the lost ground. Very
few prisoners were taken on either side. On March 22, at Bagatelle,
after the explosion of three mines, two French companies took a German
trench and repulsed a strong attack, while 500 yards away the enemy also
exploded mines, threw themselves into the French trenches, and in a
hand-to-hand fight were beaten and driven back. From June 30 to July 15
the sector was affected by the German offensive between Four-de-Paris
and Binarville road. On July 28, and on August 4 and 17, three German
efforts against Fontaine-aux-Charmes broke down. On September 9, a fresh
and more powerful attack ended in a desperate struggle. The Germans,
repulsed, renewed the attack a second time without success. On the
following day the sector was heavily bombarded with big shells. From
1916 this sector became quieter, the fierce and prolonged struggle of
1915 giving place to a mutual shelling of the trenches with occasional
grenade attacks and raids on both sides.


_Taking the soup to troops in first-line trenches._]

Another sector, that of St. Hubert, was the scene of frequent struggles
from October, 1914, to September, 1915. In December, 1916, the Germans
attacked St. Hubert five times. After alternately advancing and
retreating, the French succeeded in maintaining their positions.

Between January 16 and 27, 1915, some fifteen enemy attacks took place
in this region. At the beginning of July the battle became more violent.
On August 2, the Germans made use of liquid fire in an attack.
Subsequently the sector became quieter, like the rest of the Argonne.

Not far from St. Hubert the French line described a pronounced salient,
known as Marie-Thérèse, in the enemy positions to the north of
Fontaine-la-Mitte. This name was given to the position by the _poilus_,
probably on account of the proximity of the lodge of a gamekeeper who
had a daughter named Marie-Thérèse. Surrounded on three sides by the
German lines, the Marie-Thérèse salient was difficult to hold, and the
Germans frequently endeavoured to reduce it. On January 19, 1915, they
exploded two mines in front of the French trenches, but the French
immediately occupied the craters. On the 22nd, after having pushed
sap-heads as close as possible to the French lines, the German
grenadiers suddenly emerged from them at about 10 a.m., each throwing
two large bombs. Then one of their battalions attacked the three sides
of the position, killed the machine-gunners, and at certain points
penetrated into the French second line. At 2 p.m. a battalion of French
Chasseurs counter-attacked, and partly reoccupied the first line, but
was then repulsed by German reinforcements. A third counter-attack in
the evening and a fourth on the following morning regained some of the
lost positions after a terrific struggle. All day and all night the
fight went on with bombs, grenades, bayonets, knives, pickaxes--anything
the men could lay their hands on--with equal ferocity on both sides. A
hundred Frenchmen, nearly all wounded, were taken prisoners. At about
9.30 a.m. on February 10, the Germans mined some of the French trenches,
and then attacked in considerable force, but although they occupied part
of them, the attack was arrested almost immediately by a counter-attack,
and in the evening the enemy was partially driven back. The fighting
here was ferocious. The Germans, mostly drunk or drugged, murdered some
prisoners after disarming them. About midday on the 12th, the enemy, in
columns four abreast, on a front of 300 to 400 yards, once more hurled
themselves against the Marie-Thérèse salient. However, after being
brought to a stand by rifle fire, then scattered by an artillery
barrage, they retreated with very heavy losses. Two hours later, two
companies of French Chasseurs attacked in their turn, but suffered
severely from the machine-gun fire, only one party succeeding in getting
into contact with the enemy in a trench to which they clung. Twice on
May 12, several times in the beginning of July, on August 2 (when they
used liquid fire), on August 12 and 24, and twice on August 29, the
Germans attacked this so greatly coveted and so well defended salient.
Finally, there, as elsewhere, they abandoned all hope of breaking down
the resistance of the French, and thereafter “Marie-Thérèse” was seldom
mentioned in the communiqués.


_After visiting Gruerie Wood, return to and proceed along G.C. 67. The
road passes beside_ two large French cemeteries, _then_ a row of
dug-outs. The forest becomes more and more denuded of trees, which were
smashed by the shells. _The site of_ =Four-de-Paris= _is soon reached_,
though not a trace of the village remains (_photo, p. 104_).
_Four-de-Paris is 2 km. from La Harazée._


It was against the Four-de-Paris sector that the first efforts of the
Germans, after their retreat of September, 1914, were directed. No
sacrifice, however costly, was considered too great to recapture this
essential position on the road to Les Islettes.

In two days (November 27-28) seven enemy attacks were launched to the
north of Four. Three times on December 5 their troops, to the sound of
fife and drum, returned to the charge, but without success. On the 18th,
after blowing up a trench, they again attacked. On January 5, 1915, by
way of a diversion, the French 2nd battalion of the 4th Foreign (or
Garibaldian) Regiment carried out an operation in this sector, while,
further to the east, the rest of the regiment delivered the main attack
at Courte-Chausse. At 10 a.m., the Garibaldians, supported by some
bomb-throwers belonging to the 9th Battalion of Chasseurs and French
91st Regiment of the Line, and by two sections of the engineers,
attacked the enemy trenches on a front of 400 yards, but, decimated by
machine-gun fire, they were unable to reach them. On February 16-17 and
on March 9 there were renewed and violent struggles. From June 29 to
July 15 the battle broke out again in this sector, interrupted from time
to time by terrible bombardments with gas shells.

[Illustration: GENERAL VIEW OF THE “FOUR-DE-PARIS” (_see page 103_)

_The road in the foreground leads from Four-de-Paris to Varennes._]

In 1916 and 1917 this sector, like the rest of the Argonne, quieted
down. Mining operations continued from time to time, but there were no
battles properly so called. In the occasional surprise attacks which
took place, the French generally got the better of the enemy.

_From Four-de-Paris, instead of going to La Chalade by the direct road
through the valley of the Biesme (2 km. 500), the Itinerary follows a
number of roads (17 km. 500 in all) through the forest, in order to
visit_ certain picturesque spots and at the same time to see places like
=Bolante=, =Les Meurissons=, =La Haute-Chevauchée=, =Fille-Morte=,
=Pierre-Croisée= and =Courte-Chausse=, made famous by the war. All these
places were the scene of fierce conflicts in 1914 and 1915.

In December, 1914, many engagements, in which the French made slight
progress, took place in this sector. It was to the east of Bolante Wood,
in the wild ravine of La Fontaine-des-Meurissons, that the Garibaldian
Regiment--raised by the Republicans of Italy to fight in France, and
placed at the disposal of General Gérard (commanding the 2nd Active
Corps)--received its baptism of fire. On December 26, 1914, the 2nd
Garibaldian Battalion was detailed to carry a German trench. The
attacking front was limited, about 150 yards, but the position was
strongly held and protected by a deep entanglement of barbed wire. After
an artillery preparation lasting from midnight until dawn, the
Garibaldian companies rushed forward, one behind the other, to make a
breach at all costs, but were held up by the uncut wire. At

[Illustration: “FOUR-DE-PARIS.” FRONT-LINE DEFENCES (1916)]

one point an opening was made and a few men got through to the edge of
the German trench, only to be killed there. It was during this
engagement, which cost the 2nd Battalion 30 dead, 17 missing, and 111
wounded, that Second-Lieutenant Bruno Garibaldi--a grandson of Giuseppe
Garibaldi, “the old red bird” whom, in 1870, the Prussian General Werder
confidently expected to “catch in his nest” in the Vosges, but failed in
the attempt--was killed. Bruno Garibaldi, though in reserve, advanced to
the assault with the 2nd Battalion, his sword drawn, his green tunic
unfastened, showing the traditional and symbolic red shirt. Wounded in
the hand, he went back to the trench to have it dressed, then returned
immediately to the fight. Struck by a bullet he continued to urge his
men forward, until another laid him low. Before dying, he embraced a
wounded comrade near by, saying, “Kiss my brothers for me.” On January
5, 1915, further to the right, on the Courte-Chausse plateau, the 1st
and 3rd Garibaldian Battalions had their revenge. Eight mines, the
galleries of which, forty to fifty yards in length, ran under the German
trench, were charged with about 6,000 lbs. of explosives during the
night. At 7 a.m. the next morning the mines were fired, one after the
other, after which, to the sound of bugles and drums, eight Garibaldian
companies took the shattered enemy front line in a single charge, threw
a German counter-attack into disorder, took and retook the second line,
and penetrated into the third German line. This they were unable to
hold, but they had nevertheless made an important advance, taken four
machine-guns, two _minenwerfer_, and 200 prisoners of the 135th, 26th,
and 24th German Regiments--most of them Pomeranians. By a strange
coincidence it was the flag of a Pomeranian regiment--the LXIst--that
had been taken in 1870 at the Battle of Dijon by Ricciotti Garibaldi,
Bruno’s father. The Garibaldians’ losses that day were heavy. Among the
dead was Adjutant-Chief Costante Garibaldi, Bruno’s brother. Some days
later a violent battle took place in the Meurissons ravine. On January
7, after a half-hearted German attack, which was easily beaten off,
rough trenches were dug on the plateau--in view of a possible
retreat--by men belonging to the 46th French Regiment of the Line, who
worked under heavy fire. General Gouraud, commanding the 10th Infantry
Division, who came to examine the position, was wounded in the shoulder
by a machine-gun bullet. On the following day a violent German artillery
preparation began at dawn. At 7.30 a.m. three regiments of fresh enemy
troops (Bavarian infantry) advanced to the attack. A trench held by men
of the 89th Regiment of the Line was blown up, the French line was
broken, and the Bavarians took on the flank the first and second lines
held by troops of the 89th and 46th Regiments of the Line, who put up a
fierce resistance. On the plateau the 11th Company of the 46th, which
held the unfinished supporting trench, stopped the rush of the enemy.
The Germans, unwilling to risk a frontal attack, turned the position on
the right flank, and finally took the trench, but only after the gallant
defenders had fired their last cartridges. The Germans penetrated into
the ravine, capturing the regimental headquarters, and wounding the
colonel and his staff. The 11th Company, however, still held on. On the
crest, the cooks and the sick seized rifles and joined in the fight. At
about 9.30 a.m. a blast of trumpets on the right announced the arrival
of reinforcements. Units of the French 89th Regiment of the Line and 2nd
Garibaldian Battalion charged through the undergrowth. A furious
hand-to-hand struggle ensued in the copse-wood, no quarter being given.
The French succeeded in saving their comrades of the 46th, and checked
the enemy, who eventually evacuated the ravine. At dawn on the 9th,
units of the 120th Regiment of the Line relieved the Garibaldians, who
numbered among their dead the Regiment’s adopted child, Gaston Huet, a
French boy of twelve, who had fought like a man. It was in vain that the
Germans renewed their attacks; until nine o’clock in the evening they
were repulsed and held. The remnant of the French 46th Regiment of the
Line--some three hundred men--under the command of a captain clung for
three days without supplies, to their positions. Their splendid
resistance and sacrifice were not in vain, as reinforcements arrived in
time to re-establish the position.


From March 9 to 19, several French attacks between Four-de-Paris and
Bolante gave slight gains, in spite of enemy counter-attacks.

[Illustration: FOUR-DE-PARIS FARM IN 1918 (_see p. 103_)]

(_as seen from the road_)]

On August 7, part of a trench was taken by the Germans in a night attack
at Fille-Morte. During the whole of that month, at Courte-Chausse, Les
Meurissons, La Haute-Chevauchée and Bolante, continual fighting took
place with artillery, mines, trench-mortars, grenades and bombs. On
September 27, during the French offensive in Champagne, the Germans
attempted a diversion against Bolante and Fille-Morte. After a heavy
bombardment with explosive and gas shells, a force of nearly two
regiments attacked in four successive waves. At first they made some
slight progress, but were soon almost everywhere repulsed with very
heavy losses. From October, 1915, it was in this part of the Argonne
that the activity was greatest, though here, as elsewhere, the fighting
considerably diminished. In 1916, frequent mining operations gave rise
to grenade fighting around the craters at Fille-Morte, Bolante, La
Haute-Chevauchée and Courte-Chausse. In 1917, mine warfare was
practically abandoned, but both sides frequently made raids into the
opposing trenches, for the purpose of taking prisoners and destroying
the works and shelters there.

VARENNES (_4 km. from the former_)]

_On reaching Four-de-Paris from La Harazée, take G.C. 38, on the left,
towards Varennes._

_The road follows the valley of Les Meurissons_ (_on the right is_
=Bolante Wood=), _crosses_ Hill 265, _and passes by the_ original front

_From here onwards_, veritable villages built by the Germans _may be
seen on the sides of the hill, on the left bank of the Meurissons

The forest on the crest of the hill was cut to pieces by the shells.

_Almost at the top of the hill the road runs past_ a German cemetery
containing a curious monument (_4 km. from Four-de-Paris; photo above_).


_One kilometre further on, at the Meurissons cross-roads_, =La
Haute-Chevauchée=, an old Roman road, _is reached_.

_Follow La Haute-Chevauchée_--_a very interesting road, but in bad
repair--driving slowly and carefully for the first 2 km._

_The road passes through_ =Jardinet Wood=, which is full of dug-outs,
shelters and gun-emplacements.

_On leaving the wood_ the view is impressive. Hill 285, opposite, is
literally ploughed up by the shell fire, while not a single tree is left
(_photo below_).

This is the sector of the Fille-Morte, Pierre-Croisée and

_The road goes round the hill, passing_ a succession of shell-craters on
the crest.

_Shortly afterwards, after entering Chalade Wood, the road improves._ On
both sides are French structures of stonework.

[Illustration: HILL 285, IN THE “FILLE MORTE” SECTOR

(_The car is going towards the Croix-de-Pierre cross-roads._)]

_One kilometre beyond Hill 285 is the Sept-Fontaines cross-roads, where
stood_ a French dressing-station, _facing the road going towards the

_Keep straight on: 1 km. 800 further on, at the cross-roads, near the
site of the Forest Keeper’s Lodge, there is_ a large military cemetery.
The Lodge was completely destroyed.

_2 km. 300 further on, Croix-de-Pierre cross-roads is reached. Fifty
yards this side of the cross-roads, on the left, is_ the shelter where
Lieutenant de Courson met a glorious death in 1915 (_photo, p._ 110).

_At Croix-de-Pierre cross-roads, where the Neuvilly road (on the left)
and the Clermont road (in front) start, turn to the right into the road
leading to Chalade (called Chemin des Romains)._

_Pass an old camp (Camp Monhoven), then 1 km. beyond Croix-de-Pierre
leave the Claon road on the left._

_Two kilometres further on there is a sharp descent leading to G.C. 22,
which take on the right for 1 km. to_ =Chalade.=

The village of Chalade grew up around a monastery founded in 1120 by
Robert and Riouin, monks of the Abbey of St. Vanne at Verdun.

The Abbey, occupied first by the Benedictines, and afterwards (from
1127) by the Cistercians, was placed under the care of the Bishops of
Verdun, protected by the Lords of Vienne-le-Château.

The monks drained the marshes of the valley of the Biesme and cultivated
the slopes.

The Abbey church, begun in 1275, was never finished.

There is a legend that the prior, who had given up all hope of finishing
the church, received a visit from the Devil, who offered to finish the
building for him, on condition that he should have the soul of the first
Christian who crossed the threshold of the completed church.


The prior having refused this offer, the Devil scattered in all
directions the houses which had until then been grouped around the
monastery, and reduced to dust the blocks of “gaize” in the quarries.

Since that time the houses have remained scattered, and there are no
more blocks of “gaize” to be found in the neighbourhood.

This legend is doubtless a naïve explanation of natural phenomena,
“gaize” being a silicious clay peculiar to the district.

The Abbot’s house in the enclosure is in ruins. South of the church,
monastic buildings, probably erected in the 17th century, are still
standing, though in a dilapidated condition.

The Abbey church became the church of the parish. The windows and
rose-window were restored in the 19th century. The nave has lost two of
its bays, and the steeple has been pulled down.

The Gothic nave is large and high, the springing of the vaults resting
on sculptured capitals. Fragments of old stained-glass, still to be
found in some of the windows before the war, were destroyed by the

At the end of the nave there is a fine rose-window, the mullions of
which are said to have been taken from the old Abbey of St. Vanne at


_Return by G.C. 22, continuing along this road to_ =Claon= (_3 km_).

This little village served as a cantonment during the war, and was also
a revictualling centre.

_Take the road to the right in the village, returning to
Sainte-Menehould, via Florent (9 km)._

_Before entering Sainte-Menehould, the road passes by_ a large French
military cemetery containing 9,000 graves.


_with monument to the defenders of the Argonne_ (_10th and 18th C._)]



FOREWORD                                                               5

THE ARGONNE, 1792-1870--HISTORICAL                                     6

THE GREAT WAR, 1914-1918                                               8

THE OPERATIONS OF 1918                                                13



THE FIRST DAY                                                         31

The Second Day                                                        70







_Price_ =$1=







_Price_ =$1=


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