Charles Gates Dawes.

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ports in our rear makes our rapid advance impossible. The
problems of the rear in modern warfare are infinitely more


difficult than those involved in simple military strategy. Thus
it is that General Pershing's mind has been, and is now, so
much on the rear.

The military situation steadily improves, though the fight-
ing has been terrible the last few days. We have now about
72,000 in hospitals. May the Lord bring this war to a close
soon, provided its close marks an enduring peace! May all
this sacrifice insure for centuries a peaceful world ! But this
war must be fought to a finish not negotiated to one.

Payot goes from Petain to Foch this month.

At my office Jay is doing splendid work in tightening down
our system of coordination through purchases by category. He
is an administrator and executive of the highest order of
ability. Besides this he is a lovable character, a strong man
and a faithful friend.

The longer I am connected with our Military Board the
more I realize the tremendous advantage its earlier organiza-
tion would have been to the Allied armies even before America
entered the war. The lessons as to our own rear which we are
now learning under such difficulty could have been mastered
much sooner. We have not yet mastered them. I have no
disposition to underestimate the difficulties of the handling of
the rear in the Zone of the Advance. But some of our Staff
officers are not ready enough in profiting by the experience of
our allies, in keeping in that humble state of mind which does
not regard the seeking of the knowledge of the experienced as
derogatory to military dignity. This emphatically, however,
does not apply to poor Moseley who has about the hardest
and meanest task in the war. He learns where he can, and
does the best he can.

Paris, October 4, 1918 (i P.M.)

AFTER a morning of conferences too many to be enumerated
of crisis after crisis involving action, of long-distance
telephoning, of a crowded office, one of those mornings in
which one crowds a month of normal experience (even a nor-


mal month over here) I find the room suddenly empty, and
after a lunch on my desk have an inclination to make a few

In the flush of victory after the war when only the more
spectacular things or strategical things are remembered by the
many, the memory of mornings like this will recur at least to
me ; for they indicate the quicksands that are ever under the
feet of those in high responsibility. If they cross them, the
world acclaims them. If they sink, the level landscape of the
future will be unmarked by the evidence of their fruitless and
heroic struggle. So in the advance, so in the rear. So with
life and in battle ; so with reputations both at the front and in
the rear which must support the front.

Unquestionably the French and English desire to dissipate
the American army to a large extent. While John is at the
front, an attack is being made on his management of the rear.
If he cannot advance his army farther because his rear is dis-
organized, they say, then why not let the French and English
take over more of his troops in their sectors. The danger in the
argument is that they are right unless they are wrong about
the state of the rear of the first field army. I believe they are
wrong, but my idea is to be certain of it; and if they are right
to make redoubled efforts to help straighten out the rear.
That, of course, will be the General's view: for mixed armies
do not fight as well as single armies provided that in military
control they are in effect one army, and from every standpoint
the solution if the trouble really exists to the extent the
French claim is to make the rear stronger instead of the
front weaker. But Clemenceau and Lloyd George seem to feel
differently. I may be wrongly informed as to the depth of
their feeling, but I believe it exists based upon reports they
have received from our front.

Telephoned Harbord the situation fearing that in the in-
terview Baker is to have to-day with the French this view
would be pressed upon him without our side being represented.
Harbord tried to get Pershing on the telephone, but he is in


the field. Harbord is coming to Paris this P.M. at Baker's sug-
gestion and will see him. In the meantime I expect to meet
Payot and develop the full strength of the French military
criticism of our rear in the advance zone. This, of course, is
not under Harbord. But as friends of the General as well as a
matter of duty we are trying to develop the exact situation
for his information and action. What I fear is that an effort
will be made to attribute to bad management in the rear
a situation chiefly created by natural obstacles and which no
amount of good management could have avoided, and thus
injure unjustly the reputation for efficiency which the army
has so well earned by its wonderful work under its great leader.

I am jotting down the thoughts of the minute they must
not be considered as records of permanent opinion. One
changes his mind as information changes, provided that in-
formation alters the foundation of correlated facts upon which
opinion must always be builded. But we must be guided by
facts. If we are justly criticized, we must do better. It is
never helpful to waste time resenting criticism which is
needed to discover whether it is well founded. Nobody cares
about us only how the thing comes out.

And now to work again.

Souitty, October 8, 1918 (4 P.M.)

RECEIVED orders to come to Souilly in accordance with my
own suggestion, though I found on arriving that General
Pershing had already written me of his own initiative to
come. Arrived at Souilly from Paris with General McAndrew
(C. of S.) by motor Saturday evening, October 5.

Have a few minutes now to record what I am working at
this afternoon. Our general attack takes place to-morrow.
Am trying through Payot at General Pershing's order to get
ballast delivered by to-morrow for the normal gauge railroad
nearly completed to Varennes to be delivered from St.
Dizier to Aubreville where the completed road ends. It is
immensely important to hurry the railroad. At Varennes



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(which I visited yesterday) several wagon-roads diverge which
can supply our divisions if we can get the material there by
rail as well as by camion. It has been raining hard this morn-
ing, though it is clearing now. Ballast must be had if possible.
The French engage to deliver eighty cars to-day. Am asking
for two hundred by to-morrow. Payot telephones he is after
them. Germans are shelling Varennes this afternoon, but are
missing the wagon-roads by about a hundred yards at last
accounts. We will attack heavily to-morrow between the
Meuse and the Aire; also in other places. Was in St. Mihiel
this morning for a short time. Will try and write later as to
occurrences between Saturday night and the present time.

Sotnlly, October 8, 1918

ON Sunday, having heard the General explain in detail (on
Saturday night) to McAndrew and myself the plan of the
coming attack of our troops, I went with Colonel Boyd, the
General's aide, a man of great ability and military knowledge
as well as personal charm, to look at the expected field of the
action which will take place to-morrow (October 9). On the
way to Montfaucon we called on General Bullard commanding
the First Corps. Found camion transports being well handled
everywhere. Found the town of Montfaucon under fire, so
had to leave the automobile at the bottom of the hill on which
the town or rather what is left of it stands. Troops were
repairing road through the town, breaking stone by hand.
Wounded were being carried down the hill as we passed.
Boyd and I went on foot through the town and partly down
the slope on the north side. There behind some signal corps
camouflage we had a fine view of the country ahead. Our first
line before us was being heavily shelled. Looked at the hills
to the right, left, and ahead and realized as never before the
extent of the task which has been allotted General Pershing.
His men must go forward fired on from heights on three sides.
Much of the fighting in the Argonne Woods and other woods
is as severe as in Belleau Wood.


Instead of trying to describe his plans, after the attack is
over I will attach the order of movement. 1

1 Secret ist Army, A.E.F.

Field Orders 7 October, 1918. 12 Hours

No. 46.

(MAPS: Same as Field Order No. 20)

1. No change in the hostile situation.
The Allied Armies continue their attack.

2. The ist American Army will seize and hold the heights west of
Romagne-sous-Montfaucon and the C6tes de Meuse east of Con-
senvoye on October 8, 1918.

3. (A) The 5th Corps

(1) The sth Corps, reinforced by the ist Division and by one
brigade of infantry of the 9ist Division, will attack at an
hour designated by the Corps Commander.

(2) It will capture the heights west of Romagne-sous-Mont-
faucon while covering its right by capturing and holding
the Cunel heights. Special precautions will be taken to
cover the left flank of the attack, especially on the front

I Fleville Sommerance exclusive.

(3) Zone of action:

Right Boundary No change.

Left Boundary Baulny exclusive; Exermont inclusive;

Montrefagne inclusive; Fleville exclusive.

(B) The 1 7th French Corps will attack in accordance with F.O.
No. 39.

(C) 4th Corps, 2d Colonial Corps, 33d French Corps No change
in mission.

(D) The 3d Corps

(1) The 3d Corps will protect the flanks of the attack of the
5th Corps and I7th Corps.

(2) It will push reconnaissances to the front and assist the
attack of the 5th and I7th Corps with artillery fire. It
will be prepared to attack and seize the heights in its im-
mediate front upon orders from the Army Commander.
The 33d Division will be held in readiness to carry out the
stated plans of the I7th Corps.

(E) The ist Corps

(1) The ist Corps will protect the left of the attack of the 5th

(2) It will push reconnaissances to the front and assist the
attack of the 5th Corps with artillery fire. It will be pre-
pared to advance upon orders of the Army Commander.

(3) Zone of Action:

Right Boundary Baulny inclusive; Exermont exclusive;
Montrefagne exclusive; Fleville inclusive.
Left Boundary No change.


Returned over the road via Cheppy and Varennes, as the
General wanted a report on the bridge work being done over
the two mine-crater holes which are now being by-passed.
At and around Montfaucon we were in the midst of the ar-
tillery, and a battery of 155*3 four in succession firing
within fifty feet of me well-nigh burst my ear drums. This
was after our return from our observation post. Much aerial
activity and heavy anti-aircraft and machine-gun work
directed at Boche machines was going on. My heart was
heavy with pity for the wounded in the long lines of ambu-
lances swaying along over roads so rough that at times their
agony must have been excruciating. It was less difficult to
look upon the dead. Some mother's son lay sleeping the last
long sleep near our observation post. In the frightful noise
all around he looked strangely peaceful and rested. Reached
the train where we live and spent the evening with the Gen-
eral alone. Went over all Payot's suggestions as to our rear
with him and discussed them fully.

Am not going to try to write about what happened in our
long conferences until I get to Paris. On the way back saw
General Summerall commanding ist Division at his P.C. He
was having hard fighting that day and had the same yester-
day and to-day.

Souilly, October 9, 1918 (10.40 A.M.)

AM here with General Pershing, and as I am through with my
work of getting information as to the rear in Zone of Advance,

(F) The Army Artillery will support the attack of the 5th and I7th
Corps and will concentrate upon the hostile batteries and posi-
tions in the heights Bois de Gesnes west of Romagne and on the
east bank of the Meuse.

(G) Changes in corps zones of action and the attachment of the
1st Division and one brigade of the gist Division to the 5th
Corps will take effect at 17 hours, October 7.

4. Administrative details No change.

5. P. C.'s and Axes of Liaison No change.

By command of General Pershing:


Chief of Staff


and of expediting a little part of it, make these notes. After
a bombardment of nineteen hours (about) of the hill to the
northeast of Montfaucon in which it was expected to use
500,000 shells, our attack started at 8.30 A.M. The news from
the front will soon begin coming in.

As usual Payot made good, and at 9.30 last night received
a telephone from him on the General's special train, where we
live, that he would deliver at the rate of four trains of ballast
to-day and to-morrow at Aubreville instead of two (train
35 cars each, making 140 cars per day, instead of 80 as before
arranged). I did this at General Pershing's direct order con-
firmed afterward by General Drum, Chief of Staff, First
Army, although the order of General Pershing was delivered
to me in Drum's presence. I make this note, as the Engineers
complain this morning, I understand, that the ballast may be
more than they can handle. How I wish I could put on boots
and take charge of the pushing through of those few miles of
vitally important railroad construction as in my old days at
Big Run, Athens County! But I have done all I am ordered,
and therefore able, to do. I found generally in the rear that
Moseley has made splendidly good. Was especially pleased
with the work of the M.P.'s, graduates of our school M.B.A.S.,
in handling motor supply trains at the crossroads at Varennes
a difficult spot. Good work is being done also at the diffi-
cult spots in the road. Hope the Germans are not getting the
range of the vital crossing spots at Varennes. Then with the
railhead brought there, as it will be soon, a supply basis
for a considerable advance is provided if our attack to-day
makes it possible.

On Monday, on my trip along the front and supply lines
with Major Quekemeyer (an aide of General Pershing's), I
went through the part of the Argonne Forest we have taken
and over the supply road there. On that day went to La
Forge and in the midst of active artillery again. Later in
the day went over to Verdun and the supply roads there.
Everything was in good shape, and I am convinced that as


our lines advance the necessary supplies can be brought up.
But right here I again want to pay my tribute to the French
for their wonderful cooperation. While they criticized a
little, because for a day or so immediately after the victory
at St. Mihiel things were somewhat blocked owing to the
condition of the roads as well as to other temporary causes,
they are now generous in their commendation of the way in
which those things were mastered. Americans recognize no
impossibilities in warfare. This army of ours is a wonderful
organization. Pershing's attack last Saturday had already
answered any criticism, as to the effect of which I had had
some concern.

Drum like myself is wearing his stars for the first time.
Am much impressed with his ability. Pershing is going to
make another request of Clemenceau to do our friend Payot
justice and promote him as he has so long justly deserved.
Will stop here and read the messages from the attack.

Paris, Saturday night
October 12, 1918

REACHED Paris Thursday afternoon. Came by motor from
Souilly, stopping at Chalons all night. As during my stay
at the front I lived with the C.-in-C. on his train, and was
with him much of the time, these impressions of him in
action will be of interest hereafter, as the fighting he is now
directing is the hardest which the American forces have yet
done barring Belleau Wood which equaled it. General
McAndrew and I arrived in time for dinner Saturday eve-
ning, October 5. After dinner General Pershing explained to
General McAndrew and myself his plan for the coming at-
tack in detail. His grasp of the situation is in general and as
well in exact and specific detail. Every foot of the ground
over which the attack was to occur he knew. He is intensely
concentrated mentally. Every unit to be engaged was at
his tongue's end. Carefully and in detail he explained the
method of attack and the reasons for each step. So exact is


his knowledge of the topography of the region that when on
the next morning at his office he was further explaining his
plans to me by reference to an elaborate and colored profile
map, he suddenly challenged the accuracy of the map in
which investigation sustained him. Extreme mental con-
centration and tension, combined with firmness and mental
calmness and coldness, marked the great commander. As he
finished his long exposition he said he thought everything
was well and would go right. "But," he continued, "when
my wife and I were in the Philippines she would ask, 'Jack,
how do things stand?' I would say, 'Very well at present.'
Then she would reply, 'Look out! Something is going to hap-
pen.' And," said the General, "something always did happen."
Late at night, as the General and McAndrew and I were
still sitting around the table in the observation car, Boyd
walked in with a telegram stating that Germany had asked
for an armistice. I remarked to the General, "Here is the
'something* that has happened." The news which we are
now receiving shows that the General's plans have succeeded.
His gallant army responded to the demand as only the brave
can do. Their precious blood is sealing the final and complete
victory which now seems but a question of a short time.

Paris, Wednesday, October 16, 1918

MANY important happenings as usual the last three days.
Yesterday was at a lunch given by Stettinius and Logan.
Loucheur, Clementel, Tardieu, Ganne, General Bliss, General
Harts, McFadden, and others present. Bliss brought in the
text of President Wilson's reply to Germany which he had
just received. Was interested to note the great satisfaction
of the French ministers present with the President's note.

Monday was at Coubert at a most important meeting of
the M.B.A.S. two sessions morning and afternoon. The
work of this Board is becoming so varied and important that
I will not try to cover any of it in these notes.

Yesterday (Tuesday) General Moseley called me up in


distress over an order of Foch's through Payot taking away
camions from the first field army. He wanted to keep me
advised of the situation. Large questions are involved.
The C.-in-C. bears heavy burdens. If events prove this is
an effort of Foch to assume command of the rear as well as
the front, it will cause complications with both British and
Americans. If so he is asking a control over the rear of the
American and British forces which in his own army even he
divides with civil authority. Until, however, I know all the
situation I am in no position to judge of what is involved in
this request or its propriety. 1

This I know: that John Pershing is being attacked in the
rear while fighting at the front by those who would like so to
divide the American army as to destroy largely its entity
something inconceivably unjust considering its great ac-
complishments and apparently without the excuse of mili-
tary necessity. I cannot believe Payot desires this. Nor do
I wish to infer that Clemenceau and Foch desire anything
that does not advance the common cause in their judgment.
It is only another one of the interminable succession of in-
evitable conflicts and compromises between the interests of
the whole and the units composing it. Each is dependent on
the other. As in the case of a wounded man, it is sometimes
necessary to amputate an arm to save the body. But no
reputable physician cuts off the arm without endeavoring to
save the arm first if it seems possible. Thus also in military
matters must decision be left to those in best position to
diagnose what is and what is not indispensable in the relation
of a unit to the whole. Therefore I refrain from further
comment. In nothing is Pershing showing greater ability
and wisdom in his handling of his army than in its relation
to Foch and the Allies. In nothing is he confronted with more
difficulty. His attack of October 4 silenced the French mil-
itary critics. Now they are beginning again. Pershing has

1 See Report of Daily Activities, October 22, paragraph 7, and Novem-
ber 4, paragraph i. Appendix C, vol. n, pp. 205, 225.


been given the hardest part of the line. The most difficult in
topography to attack, it has the greatest and most determined
concentration of the enemy behind it now existing in France.
That concentration has drawn much strength of the enemy
from in front of the English and French lines and made their
great advance of the last week possible. Our army with the
hardest fighting is making possible great and gallant vic-
tories of the others while slowly, obscurely, and painfully
forging ahead itself. Its work is not spectacular, but mag-
nificent in its effects. But to-day John has men north of the
Bois de Foret, and I am hopeful that events will soon crown
our devoted army with its proper reward and recognition and
make their position and that of the C.-in-C. less difficult.

Paris, Thursday night
October 24, 1918

HAVE just returned from Military Board meeting at Coubert.
For the last three days have been trying to find time to
make these notes while the important events were fresh in
my mind, but events themselves and not myself are masters
of my time.

Last Friday noon, at the request of General Travers-
Clarke, B.E.F., I left for B.E.F. Headquarters at Montreuil,
taking Dwight Morrow and McFadden with me, as ques-
tions of tonnage as well as matters within my more direct
province were to be discussed. It is no longer possible for
me to take time to describe many of the important matters
in which I am engaged, for they are too numerous to permit
of it. The particularly bad one just now is horses to put
artillery into action, and General Pershing has notified me
that he places primary responsibility on me to get them. To-
day General Travers-Clarke telephoned me of the first five
thousand which have resulted from our efforts. But that is
but an incident of the last week, and the report of my daily
activities to General Harbord must supply the details of my


Just a word about our visit to our English comrades.
Their entertainment of us was that of brothers meeting in
time of mutual dependency and with a mutual affection.
After our important conferences were over Saturday morn-
ing, McFadden and I went back (by motor, of course), via
Arras, Bapaume, and Peronne, through the devastated dis-
trict. Passed the Scotch marching through Arras with their
bagpipes playing, and somehow it always brings tears to my
eyes to see them. We reached Paris in the evening traveling
as usual at "breakneck" speed. Sunday morning (October 20)
my office was full of officers. General Moseley among them.
Talked with him about his trip to Foch's Headquarters to
see Payot and Weygand and the importance of maintaining
the present agreeable relations with them. I then suddenly
decided to leave for General Pershing's Field Headquarters
to put before him the reports as to our rear supply system
emanating from some French sources, which reports were
unfounded but making trouble; this with a view to having
him in touch with the real situation, which was a simple one
as follows:

After the St. Mihiel attack and when our army was being
hurriedly moved over to the west for the next attack, there
occurred, owing to the condition of the roads and other or-
dinary causes, a congestion of supply trains which was not
fully relieved for about a day and a half. Clemenceau hap-
pened to be at the front and saw it. Somehow the impression
got abroad that the Americans could not renew their attack
because of this temporary congestion, but such criticism
immediately ceased from any responsible source when the
Americans did attack on October 4. They have been attack-
ing and advancing ever since. However, unfounded criticism
having started from high sources, their ceasing it did not
prevent the miserable gossips from causing us some annoy-
ance. On my trip took with me my friend Lieutenant-Colonel
Gushing, of my old regiment. We arrived at Souilly about

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 30)