Thursday, September 27, 2018

America’s Biggest Battle, 100 Years On

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive of 1918 was the largest battle ever fought by Americans.

By Dan McLaughlin

One hundred years ago this morning, at 5:30 a.m. Central European Time, the 1.2 million–man American Expeditionary Force launched all of its available combat strength into the largest and arguably the bloodiest battle in American history: the six-week Meuse-Argonne offensive that continued through the armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The horrific and protracted battle brought a decisive end to the first war in which Americans fought on European soil. Though it was filled with then-famous incidents and notable Americans, the ordeal of the Meuse-Argonne is far less remembered today than Gettysburg, Normandy, Yorktown, Okinawa, or New Orleans. We should keep that memory alive, as it tells us a lot about the America of 1918 and the century that followed................

With the Americans added to the defensive lines from the late spring on, and the arrival of the “Spanish flu” epidemic, the Germans simply ran out of men to press the attack. Like the British and the French, they no longer had any reserves of men left to draw on except teenagers waiting to be old enough to fight. Yet ship after ship, Americans kept arriving...............

The resulting casualties, while dwarfed by those endured by the European armies and spread over the 1.2 million men ultimately engaged in the fight, were nonetheless shocking: Over 26,000 killed and 95,000 wounded, about triple the number of Americans killed at Gettysburg even though Americans made up both sides of that battle. And yet, in the end, it was the very fact that the Americans were so willing to spend their young men so cheaply in 1918 that demoralized the Germans the most; nobody else had enough young men left to spend to act that way in 1918, and the Europeans knew it. More than any advances of territory, more than any skill in fighting, the mere fact of the Americans on the field with no end of their arrivals in sight decided the war............To Read More....

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