Facts from US’s all time deadliest World War battle

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of Veteran’s Day…today also marks the end of America’s deadliest battle in the history of either World Wars…this is the story of the “Meuse-Argonne Offensive”.

What made this battle so deadly?

Injured soldier…HAPPY to be going HOME.

From expert Doran Cart, a senior curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City:

“The main factor in all of this was that it was a different kind of fighting than what had occurred before in World War I.”

“This wasn’t trench to trench…this was getting up and attacking the enemy and when you do that you are a lot more exposed.”

The Meuse-Argonne (second) Offensive primarily consisted of US and French Army’s against Germany’s last line of defense.

However, US Marines also battled here…leading to a quote from U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing:
“The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle”.

This attack was a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front.

Above photo from German’s before the final push. They had the high-ground to fire down on the Americans.

“This was a very well defended area, basically the last well-defended area on the Western Front.”
-Doran Cart, a senior curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. It was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought the war to an end.

“In its scale and in the number of American and French troops involved, not only infantry but artillery, tanks, engineers…”

“…just the logistics in this, made it the largest operation that the American armed forces had been in to that point.”

Army’s 108th Field Artillery – under fire from enemy gas shells

It was fought from September 26, 1918 until the Armistice of November 11, 1918, a total of 47 days.

“During the three hours preceding H hour, the Allies expended more ammunition than both sides managed to fire through-out the four years of the (America’s) Civil War.”

1918, in the Meuse, France, American snipers wearing sniper suits. Erik Villard Digital Military Historian for the US Army
“Was that not a weird, strange game of hide and seek that was being played? It gave me the creeps, that idea of battling with an enemy you could not see!”
-WW1, France, Harry Lauder, entertainer at the front America’s Munitions 1917-1918

How many bullets and howitzer shells were fired?

Oct 29 1918 “An American 14 inch naval gun on a railway platform firing near Thierville”
Bellow is the scarred/pockmarked from shells near the trenches.

“The cost (expanded ammunitions) was later calculated to have been $180 million, or $1 million per minute.”
-Doran Cart, a senior curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial

Eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys died in the First World War.

The “Lost Battalion” was an American consisting of 554 men of the 77th Division.

The battalion suffered many hardships. Food was scarce and water was available only by crawling, under fire, to a nearby stream. Ammunition ran low. Communications were also a problem, and at times they would be bombarded by shells from their own artillery.

Yep, not only were they cut-off, US artillery was landing on them.
Leading to the following famous message from battle…

“WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALELL 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT,” Maj. Charles W. Whittlesey cried out in a message affixed to a carrier pigeon that flew to his compatriots nearby.

Despite this, they held their ground and caused enough of a distraction for other Allied units to break through the German lines, which forced the Germans to retreat.

Of the 554 Men, the “Lost Battalion” reported 150 missing soldiers with 197 officially killed in the battle.

Oct 29 1918 “Second Lieutenant Fred Bolt of the US Army and his troops operating a portable paraboloid for locating aircraft at Monyblainville (Meuse)”

New weapons and new ways to lose one’s life.

Even new heroes.

“Big Nims” of the 3rd Battalion, 369th Infantry, who found great amusement in contemplating the grotesque appearance of his comrade with a gas mask adjusted over his face and head.

“Hell Fighters” from Harlem, painting by H. Charles McBarron, Jr.

The 369th Infantry fought valiantly in the Meuse-Argonne as part of the French 161st Division. Attacking behind a fiery barrage, the 369th Infantry assaulted successive German trench lines and captured the town of Ripont. On 29 September, the regiment stormed powerful enemy positions and took the town of Sechault. Despite heavy casualties, the 369th, called “Hell Fighters” by the French and Germans, relentlessly continued the attack at dawn.

Raked by enemy machine guns, they assaulted in the woods northeast of Sechault, flanking and overwhelming enemy machine gun positions. The “Let’s Go!” elan and indomitable fighting spirit of the 369th Infantry was illustrated throughout the battle. Their initiative, leadership, and gallantry won for their entire regiment the French Croix de Guerre.

“223” was Not just a Hill.
This bump in the Earth brought black and white American’s of the 82nd together on the battlefield. Where they fought, died and found victory in the Hell of War.

A century ago.

Oct 24 1918 “Ruins of La Bassee where Germans retired from on 2nd October”

“Meuse-Argonne Offensive”
American Casualties:
Estimated 26,277 killed
95,786 wounded

Today, Veteran’s Day was born.

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One thought on “Facts from US’s all time deadliest World War battle

  1. From expert Doran Cart, a senior curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City:

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