On this day in 1918, the Meuse-Argonne offensive of World War I begins. Allied forces were determined to push the Germans out of France and back into Germany. More than 1.2 million American soldiers would ultimately participate in the multi-week offensive.
We lost a lot of good men during those long, brutal weeks. Today, more than 14,000 American soldiers are buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial. It’s the largest resting place for our military men and women overseas.
The American Expeditionary Force was then facing a tough task: The Germans had occupied this part of France for years, and they’d installed elaborate defenses. American soldiers would not only have to fight the enemy, but they’d be working their way through barbed wire and past machine gun nests to do it.
The offensive was scheduled to begin at 5:30 a.m. on September 26, but Pershing planned to lead with 3-hour bombardment. It must have been a sight to behold. “During the three hours preceding H Hour,” military historian Carlo D’Este concludes, “the Allies expended more ammunition than both sides managed to fire throughout the four years of the Civil War.”
The bombardment may have cost as much as $1 million per minute!
Some of that fire was delivered by then-Captain Harry S. Truman, who was in charge of one battery of field artillery. One private remembered Truman giving a pep talk to his men. “I want to tell you this, too, fellows,” Truman said. “Right tonight I’m where I want to be—in command of this battery. I’d rather be right here than be President of the United States. You boys are my kind. Now let’s go in!”
A fair bit of irony in the pep talk, given Truman’s ultimate destiny? 😉
Read the rest of the story at: taraross.com
My mother’s eldest brother fought in this battle. Here is a local newspaper account of his service (for some reason his two youngest sisters aren’t mentioned):
Was born at Marlette, June 12, 1893, son of Correl and Nellie Hurd, and attended the Marlette schools. His occupation was farming. He has three sisters and two brothers: Anna, Sara, and Evelyn; Ross, and Elmer. He is a Selective Service man and left Camp Custer April 29, 1918 and left for overseas July 21, 1918. He was bugler and a member of Co. G. 139th Infantry. 35th Division was gassed October 7th, 1918 at Argonne Meusc. He returned home February 24, 1919.