Thomas Herbert Russell.

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crossfire from machine guns the other elements fought desperately
against odds. In this and in later actions, from October 6 to October
19, our 2d Corps captured over 6,000 prisoners and advanced over
thirteen miles. The spirit and aggressiveness of these divisions have
been highly praised by the British Army commander under whom they

On October 2-9 our 2d and 36th Divisions were sent to assist the French
in an important attack against the old German positions before Rheims.
The 2d conquered the complicated defense works on their front against a
persistent defense worthy of the grimmest period of trench warfare
and attacked the strongly held wooded hill of Blanc Mont, which they
captured in a second assault, sweeping over it with consummate dash and
skill. This division then repulsed strong counterattacks before the
village and cemetery of Ste. Etienne and took the town, forcing the
Germans to fall back from before Rheims and yield positions they had
held since September, 1914. On October 9 the 36th Division relieved
the 2d, and in its first experience under fire withstood very severe
artillery bombardment and rapidly took up the pursuit of the enemy, now
retiring behind the Aisne.


The allied progress elsewhere cheered the efforts of our men in
this crucial contest, as the German command threw in more and more
first-class troops to stop our advance. We made steady headway in the
almost impenetrable and strongly held Argonne Forest, for, despite this
reinforcement, it was our army that was doing the driving. Our aircraft
was increasing in skill and numbers and forcing the issue, and our
infantry and artillery were improving rapidly with each new experience.
The replacements fresh from home were put into exhausted divisions with
little time for training, but they had the advantage of serving
beside men who knew their business and who had almost become veterans
overnight. The enemy had taken every advantage of the terrain, which
especially favored the defense by a prodigal use of machine guns manned
by highly trained veterans and by using his artillery at short ranges.
In the face of such strong frontal positions we should have been unable
to accomplish and progress according to previously accepted standards,
but I had every confidence in our aggressive tactics and the courage of
our troops.

On October 4 the attack was renewed all along our front. The 3d Corps,
tilting to the left, followed the Brieulles-Cunel Road; our 5th Corps
took Gesnes, while the 1st Corps advanced for over two miles along
the irregular valley of the Aire River and in the wooded hills of the
Argonne that bordered the river, used by the enemy with all his art and
weapons of defense. This sort of fighting continued against an
enemy striving to hold every foot of ground and whose very strong
counterattacks challenged us at every point. On the 7th the 1st Corps
captured Chatel-Chénéry and continued along the river to Cornay. On the
east of the Meuse sector one of the two divisions coöperating with the
French, captured Consenvoye and the Haumont Woods. On the 9th the 5th
Corps, in its progress up the Aire, took Fléville, and the 3d Corps,
which had continuous fighting against odds, was working its way through
Briueulles and Cunel. On the 10th we had cleared the Argonne Forest of
the enemy.

It was now necessary to constitute a second army, and on October 9 the
immediate command of the First Army was turned over to Lieut.-Gen.
Hunter Liggett. The command of the Second Army, whose divisions occupied
a sector in the Woevre, was given to Lieut.-Gen. Robert L. Bullard,
who had been commander of the 1st Division and then of the 3d Corps.
Major-Gen. Dickman was transferred to the command of the 1st Corps,
while the 5th Corps was placed under Major-Gen. Charles P. Summerall,
who had recently commanded the 1st Division. Major-Gen. John L. Hines,
who had gone rapidly up from regimental to division commander, was
assigned to the 3d Corps. These four officers had been in France from
the early days of the expedition and had learned their lessons in the
school of practical warfare.

Our constant pressure against the enemy brought day by day more
prisoners, mostly survivors from machine-gun nests captured in fighting
at close quarters. On October 18 there was very fierce fighting in the
Caures Woods east of the Meuse and in the Ormont Woods. On the 14th 1st
Corps took St. Juvin, and the 5th Corps, in hand-to-hand encounters,
entered the formidable Kriemhilde line, where the enemy had hoped to
check us indefinitely. Later the 5th Corps penetrated further the
Kriemhilde line, and the 1st Corps took Champignuelles and the important
town of Grandpre. Our dogged offensive was wearing down the enemy,
who continued desperately to throw his best troops against us, thus
weakening his line in front of our Allies and making their advance less


Meanwhile we were not only able to continue the battle, but our 37th and
31st Divisions were hastily withdrawn from our front and dispatched
to help the French Army in Belgium. Detraining in the neighborhood of
Ypres, these divisions advanced by rapid stages to the fighting line and
were assigned to adjacent French corps. On October 31, in continuation
of the Flanders offensive, they attacked and methodically broke down
all enemy resistance. On Nov. 3 the 37th had completed its mission in
dividing the enemy across the Escaut River and firmly established itself
along the east bank included in the division zone of action. By a
clever flanking movement troops of the 91st Division captured Spitaals
Bosschen, a difficult wood extending across the central part of the
division sector, reached the Escaut, and penetrated into the town of
Audenarde. These divisions received high commendation from their corps
commanders for their dash and energy.


On the 23d the 3d and 5th Corps pushed northward to the level of
Bantheville. While we continued to press forward and throw back the
enemy's violent counterattacks with great loss to him, a regrouping of
our forces was under way for the final assault. Evidences of loss of
morale by the enemy gave our men more confidence in attack and more
fortitude in enduring the fatigue of incessant effort and the hardships
of very inclement weather.

With comparatively well-rested divisions, the final advance in the
Meuse-Argonne front was begun on November 1. Our increased artillery
force acquitted itself magnificently in support of the advance, and the
enemy broke before the determined infantry, which, by its persistent
fighting of the past weeks and the dash of this attack, had overcome his
will to resist. The 3d Corps took Ancrevlle, Doulcon and Andevanne, and
the 5th Corps took Landres et St. Georges and passed through successive
lines of resistance to Bayonville and Chennery. On the 2d the 1st Corps
joined in the movement, which now became an impetuous onslaught that
could not be stayed.

On the 3d advance troops surged forward in pursuit, some by motor
trucks, while the artillery pressed along the country roads close
behind. The 1st Corps reached Authe and Châtillon-Sur-Bar, the 5th
Corps, Fosse and Nouart, and the 3d Corps, Halles, penetrating the
enemy's lines to a depth of twelve miles. Our large-caliber guns had
advanced and were skilfully brought into position to fire upon the
important lines at Montmedy, Longuyon and Conflans. Our 3d Corps crossed
the Meuse on the 5th and the other corps, in the full confidence that
the day was theirs, eagerly cleared the way of machine guns as they
swept northward, maintaining complete coordination throughout. On the
6th, a division of the 1st Corps reached a point on the Meuse opposite
Sedan, twenty-five miles from our line of departure. The strategical
goal which was our highest hope was gained. We had cut the enemy's main
line of communications, and nothing but surrender or an armistice could
save his army from complete disaster.

In all forty enemy divisions had been used against us in the
Meuse-Argonne battle. Between September 26 and November 6 we took 26,
prisoners and 468 guns on this front. Our divisions engaged were the
1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 32d, 33d, 35th, 37th, 42d,
77th, 78th, 79th, 80th, 82d, 89th, 90th and 91st. Many of our divisions
remained in line for a length of time that requires nerves of steel,
while others were sent in again after only a few days of rest. The 1st,
5th, 26th, 77th, 80th, 89th, and 90th were in the line twice. Although
some of the divisions were fighting their first battle, they soon became
equal to the best.


On the three days preceding November 10, the 3d, the 2d Colonial and the
17th French Corps fought a difficult struggle through the Meuse Hills
south of Stenay and forced the enemy into the plain. Meanwhile my plans
for further use of the American forces contemplated an advance between
the Meuse and the Moselle in the direction of Longwy by the First Army,
while, at the same time, the Second Army should assure the offensive
toward the rich coal fields of Briey. These operations were to be
followed by an offensive toward Château-Salins east of the Moselle, thus
isolating Metz. Accordingly, attacks on the American front had been
ordered, and that of the Second Army was in progress on the morning of
November 11, when instructions were received that hostilities should
cease at 11 o'clock A.M.

At this moment the line of the American sector, from right to left,
began at Port-sur-Seille, thence across the Moselle to Vandieres and
through the Woevre to Bezonvaux, in the foothills of the Meuse, thence
along to the foothills and through the northern edge of the Woevre
forests to the Meuse at Mouzay, thence along the Meuse connecting with
the French under Sedan.


Coöperation among the Allies has at all times been most cordial. A far
greater effort has been put forth by the allied armies and staffs to
assist us than could have been expected. The French Government and Army
have always stood ready to furnish us with supplies, equipment and
transportation and to aid us in every way. In the towns and hamlets
wherever our troops have been stationed or billeted the French people
have everywhere received them more as relatives and intimate friends
than as soldiers of a foreign army. For these things words are quite
inadequate to express our gratitude. There can be no doubt that the
relations growing out of our associations here assure a permanent
friendship between the two peoples. Although we have not been so
intimately associated with the people of Great Britain, yet their troops
and ours when thrown together have always warmly fraternized. The
reception of those of our forces who have passed through England and
of those who have been stationed there has always been enthusiastic.
Altogether it has been deeply impressed upon us that the ties of
language and blood bring the British and ourselves together completely
and inseparably.


There are in Europe altogether, including a regiment and some sanitary
units with the Italian Army and the organizations at Murmansk, also
including those en route from the States, approximately 2,053,347 men,
less our losses. Of this total there are in France 1,338,169 combatant
troops. Forty divisions have arrived of which the infantry personnel
of ten have been used as replacements, leaving thirty divisions now in
France organized into three armies of three corps each.

The losses of the Americans up to November 18 are: Killed and wounded,
36,145; died of disease, 14,811; deaths unclassified, 2,204; wounded,
179,625; prisoners, 2,163; missing, 1,160. We have captured about 44,
prisoners and 1,400 guns, howitzers and trench mortars.

[General Pershing then highly praised the work of the General Staff, the
Service of Supply, Medical Corps, Quartermaster Department, Ordnance
Department, Signal Corps, Engineer Corps, and continued:]

Our aviators have no equals in daring or in fighting ability, and have
left a record of courageous deeds that will ever remain a brilliant
page in the annals of our army. While the Tank Corps has had limited
opportunities, its personnel has responded gallantly on every possible
occasion, and has shown courage of the highest order.

The navy in European waters has at all times most cordially aided the
army, and it is most gratifying to report that there has never before
been such perfect coöperation between these two branches of the service.

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

I am, Mr. Secretary, very respectfully,


General, Commander-in-Chief,

American Expeditionary Forces.

To the Secretary of War.



_American Troops on All Fronts - Changes Come Fast and Furious - First
Hun Cry for Peace - Virtue, Vice and Violence - Austria
Surrenders - Opens Up the Dardanelles - Closing Days of Hohenzollern
Reign - Killing of Tisza - Terms Prepared for Germany -
Armistice Signed by Germany_.


The collapse of Russia in 1917 had released vast bodies of German troops
for service in France, but the calamities that overtook them on the
French front were so destructive that insufficient man power was left
to take care of the southeastern fronts, so that Serbia was enabled to
institute a new offensive, and with the aid of Greece, in a few days cut
Bulgaria out of the German horde, pressed forward in Serbia, and pushed
ahead through the Balkan regions. Meanwhile American strength was
greatly augumented in the west and at the same time American troops
appeared on the Murman coast in the north and Siberia on the Pacific
east, on the Piave front in Italy, and at every other point where
hostile strength was greatest or strategic advantage was to be gained by
their presence.

Concurrently, the United States navy swept the western seas of Europe
free of German submarines. Our naval forces were combined with those of
Great Britain as the sea arm of a united command, under the joint name
of the Grand Fleet; and American troop ships landed newly trained
American soldiers in France at the average number of about 250,000 a
month - over 2,200,000 in little more than a year; at the same time
helping to reopen in safety the lanes of ocean commerce by which the
trade of our European allies was fully restored, German ports corked
tight, and Germany thereby thrown back absolutely upon her own interior
resources. Out of this vigorous and abundant American action emerged the
conditions that insured a "Peace of Justice."

These things were the quick work of the latter part of 1917 and the
campaigns of 1918. The achievement was gigantic, but it had no effect in
taking attention or diverting action from those movements that offered
at once an advantage to our common cause, while disintegrating the hoary
tyrannies of Central and Eastern Europe.


Events in the field reacted with powerful effect upon autocratic
Austria. The Austrian throne was built upon the backs of vassal states,
all of which had yielded thousands of emigrants to this country; and
these transplanted peoples, having found freedom, proceeded to incite
the countries of their origin to throw off their burdens and like
Americans, be free to govern themselves.

The moment had come for Bohemia, Poland, and all Czecho-Slav and
Jugo-Slav peoples to rise. The United States Government, in full
sympathy with their yearnings, had received their representatives at
Washington, had furnished funds as well as moral support to their
provisional governments, had supported an independent Czecho-Slav army
in Russia with American reinforcements, with clothing, arms, munitions,
and supplies, and now, at exactly the right juncture, in August, 1918,
recognized the Czecho-Slav as a cobelligerent power lawfully at war
against the central empires.


This was the push that brought the break. Germany still had her armies
intact on the soil of other countries, and was a consolidated force,
tired though not beaten. But the fat and filthy "Czar" Ferdinand
of Bulgaria sat in voluntary exile, eating like bread the ashes of
repentance, and mingling his drink with weeping; so that his country,
yellow at best, and frightened by the fear of being done to as it had
done by Serbia, quit abruptly, without shame, almost without firing a
shot. With that defection the last wisp of Germany's long cherished
dream of a boche Middle-Europe and a boche empire stretching from Berlin
to Bagdad, faded forever. In October, 1918, Austria consented to a
reconstituted independent Bohemian state, and with apparent readiness
granted self-government to Hungary.

Meantime, in September and October, 1918, the American and allied armies
chased the Germans from the coast and far into the interior of Belgium,
the Belgian army, financed by the United States, taking part in that
operation. Town after town, city after city in Belgium and France
fell to the American and allied forces, so that the German government
(October 27) addressed a note to the President of the United States
asking him to intercede with our allies for an armistice and a
conference for discussion of terms of peace. This led to four exchanges
of notes, in which Germany's expressions were specious, and assumed a
right to negotiate. The last of these notes was submitted by President
Wilson to the allied council at Paris; and the council answered by
referring the whole question of armistice to Marshal Foch and the allied
military chiefs.


In those same months of September and October, 1918, Austria and Turkey
made proffers of separate surrender. This was the logical sequence of a
"crooked kamerad" peace-offensive inaugurated by Germany as soon as she
found herself being rolled, helplessly, toward the Rhine. It was at once
the most vicious game that her genius for the vicious had ever prompted,
and it was put forward at the very time when the fourth liberty loan was
in course of being floated.

Our soldiers on all fronts had often suffered through a trick of false
surrender by German soldiers. It is best described by one of our boys
who was lying on a table in a base hospital, waiting his turn to be
operated upon, when he heard another who was being wheeled out from the
operating room and was muttering through the ether fumes:

"Fired at me ten feet away, he did, point blank, and then he dropped his
rifle and stuck up his hands and called me 'Kamerad'! Kamerad, the dirty
crook! Didn't I stick 'im pritty, Bill"!

It had been a common thing on the western front for a group of boches to
come running toward the American lines unarmed, with their hands in
the air, crying "Kamerad! Kamerad!" And then, when our men went out
to receive them, fall flat, to make way for a force of armed boches
immediately behind them, who opened fire - plain murder as ever was done.

So it was a crooked Kamerad cry, a peace offensive intended to sing us
to sleep, that Germany launched in September, 1918. Of a sudden, our
newspapers were filled with what appeared to be straight news dispatches
dated at Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, London, Paris, Geneva,
and even Berlin, telling tales (that were not so) of starvation and
disaffection in Germany, or broken morale in the German armies, and
riotous demonstrations demanding peace. The impression was immediate and
came near to being disastrous.

Many urgent requests were being made just then for public help from
America. The gigantic fourth loan, the needs of the Red Cross, the
thousand and one things, big and little, that had to be taken care of,
and the very earnest and pressing call for a sharper realization of
war's awful facts, were being driven with might and main, all over the
land; and all was going well.

Within three days, before even the Associated Press discovered the
fraud, these outrageous German lies had taken effect. Subscriptions to
the loan began to slacken, alarmingly. Interest in the battle news began
to fade. People were telling each other the war was over.


Then on October 6th, 1918, came the note of the German Chancellor, Prince
Maximilian of Baden, asking an armistice and a peace conference - in
essence, an astounding request for time to reconsolidate the German
armies and bring up fresh guns and munitions. America might have been
fooled into a frightful error if the great war-organizations had not
come forward with a roaring counterblast. The peace offensive failed.
More than that, the people resented it in a prompt and highly practical
way. They oversubscribed the six billion loan. Most of them, especially
the smaller subscribers, doubled their subscriptions in the last two
days of the time allotted for the flotation. October 7th, President
Wilson answered Prince Max's request with a refusal.

But it was a fortunate thing for the allied cause that the peace
offensive was made, for its one effect was to create a profound distrust
of all war news coming out of Amsterdam or Copenhagen. It revealed the
fact that Berlin had been closely censoring all news dispatches that
assumed to disclose the state of affairs in the central empires;
censoring them rigorously, and inventing most of them. Germany had not
yet learned that lies would not win the war; but the rest of the world
had learned that Germany, as a liar, was so supernally endowed that
her feeblest efforts in that domain would have made Ananias, Baron
Munchausen, and Joe Mulhatton look like a trio of supersaints, choking
with truth.


Germany's definite turn toward peace came in October, 1918, in the form
of further and very awkward notes written by Prince Maximilian of Baden,
the German Chancellor, and Doctor Solf, German Minister of foreign
affairs. While the first of these notes was coming along, the Leinster
was sunk by a German submarine on the Irish coast. The Leinster was a
passenger ship, employed in regular service on a long ferriage. She had
a full passenger list, nearly 400 people, peaceable folk all, just about
such as may be found any day aboard a Staten Island ferry boat. It was
not in any sense an act of war, but mere and open piracy, killing for
the love of killing. It was one of the most horrible acts in a long,
long list of horrors for which Germany has learned she must account in
the long reckoning she has been forced to face.


At the same time, strangely contrasting with the virtuous attitude
assumed in the notes, towns and cities in France and Belgium were being
blown up before evacuation by the Germans, their men were being marched
away to slavery in Germany, their women and young girls assigned as
"orderlies" in the service of German officers - such "orderlies" as
Turkey buys and sells for its harems. The contrast between German
professions of virtue and German bestiality of act was ghastly. It is
hard to believe that such things could happen between earth and sky, and
they who did them still live; yet the things, hypocritical on one side
and sickeningly horrible on the other, were actually done.


Between the day when that little group of Americans stopped the hordes
of hell at Chateau Thierry, and Germany's acceptance of the American and
allied armistice terms, these other and happier things had come to pass.

Bulgaria had been forced to quit. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey
sued for peace. Turkey's military power was broken in Asia Minor,
Germany undertook the greatest retreat in history, and these countries
and Austria-Hungary were suffering from serious internal dissensions.

The allies took about half a million prisoners and some 4,000 cannon.
They destroyed more than 300 airplanes and 100 balloons. They recovered
more than 7,000 square miles of territory in France and Belgium, 20,
square miles in Serbia, Albania and Montenegro, and 15,000 square miles
in Asia Minor.

In France, the cities of Lille, Turcoing, Roubaix, Douai, Lens, Cambrai,
St. Quentin, Peronne, Laon, Soissons, Noyon, La Bassee, Bapaume,
St. Mihiel, Chateau Thierry, Grand Pre, Soissons, Vouziers, LaFere,

Online LibraryThomas Herbert RussellAmerica's War for Humanity → online text (page 44 of 49)