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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
The first drive started in March, 1918. (See Map, p. 419, and colored Map facing p. 428.) An overwhelming mass of German troops rushed forward toward the city of Amiens1 for the purpose of splitting off the British army from its junction with the French. The enemy's impetuous attack bent the British line -- it did more, it cracked it. But by a desperate effort a British officer managed to get together such men as he could find at hand, including a regiment of American engineers2 -- men who seemed
A ROW OF DUGOUTS SHOWING HOW THE ROOF WAS CONSTRUCTED OF
SANDBAGS, SHEET-IRON, AND SODS
From a photograph by Gertrude R. Thurber, September, 1920
never to rest or sleep. With this little picked-up army he held part of the Germans back and so staved off a disastrous defeat.
The Allies, that is, the British, French, and Americans, felt that they had narrowly escaped and took action accordingly. Their different forces had been under different leaders. They saw that in the future they must have one man direct all. They also saw that General Foch,3 the great French soldier, was that man. As
1 Amiens (ah-me-an'), about forty miles west of the Hindenburg Line (see Map, p. 419), was a center of the railways which connected the British and French armies and brought food supplies and munitions of war, shipped from England, to the British forces. Had the Germans taken the city it would have been a fearful blow to both the British and French.
2 The American engineers were sent to France to build roads, bridges, wharves, and storehouses for our troops and to do any other work which would be of use to them.
3 General Foch (fush) had shown his remarkable ability in his defense of Paris in 1914
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the whole of them agreed to this plan, he was forthwith appointed Commander-in-Chief. The day that was done General Pershing called on the new Commander and placed the American forces in France at his disposal.1 He said to General Foch: "All that we have is yours. Use them as you will. There are more to come -- as many more as shall be needed."
The second great German drive began in April. It was directed toward the northwest. The object of the enemy was to crush the power of the British in that section. If the Germans could get possession of the French ports on the Strait of Dover (see Map, p. 419), they could stop England from sending over a never-ending stream of troops to strengthen their own army and to help the Belgians and the French.
It was then that Marshal Haig, commander of the British forces in the northwest of France, saw that the time had come when they had got to win or die. "With our backs to the wall," said he, "each one of us must fight to the end." They did fight and held their own, with terrible loss, until French troops came up and, with a small number of Americans to aid them, repulsed the enemy's attack.
The third German drive started late in May. This time their army moved from the vicinity of Reims2 (see Map, p. 419), straight for Paris. The leaders felt sure that if they could take the capital of France they could force the French people to beg for peace -- no matter how hard the Kaiser's terms might be. They swept on with such speed that they reached the northern bank of the River Marne3 and captured the town of Château-Thierry,4 less than sixty miles from Paris.
Near that town two regiments of American Marines, or soldiers belonging to our navy, attacked an advance force of the enemy in Belleau Wood.5 The Marines fought their way through
1 We then had about 320,000 men there, but not more than two thirds of these were combat troops.
2 Reims (ranz), about eighty miles northeast of Paris.
3 Marne (marn).
4 Château-Thierry (shah-toe'tee-er'y).
5 After the Germans were cleared out of it, Belleau (bel-lo') Wood received a new name. The French government henceforth called it "The Wood of the Marine Brigade."
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
A PROSPEROUS TOWN IN WESTERN FRANCE
THE SAME TOWN AFTER THE GERMANS HAD SHELLED IT
part of the forest with such ferocity that they brought the veteran German soldiers to a standstill. Later on, in a second attack, the Marines rushed the Germans entirely out of the forest and so blocked their progress toward Paris for a time. In like manner
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our men made their mark a little earlier, when they had their first dash at the Germans and drove them out of the fortified village of Cantigny.1
These were not great battles on our part, but they showed what we meant to do when we should fight great battles. For this reason General Foch said, speaking of these engagements: "A year ago the American sword was brought to us. To-day we have seen it strike. It is the certain pledge of victory."
The fourth German drive began in June. It was an attempt to open a road to Paris from the north. If successful the enemy could then approach the city from two directions -- from the north and from the east. But again they met disappointment, for French and American troops stopped them halfway.
On July 15 the Kaiser's armies on the cast and west of Reims (see Map, p. 419) began their fifth drive. It was their last desperate push for Paris. They meant to enter the city and take possession of it through sheer force of numbers. If they found that impossible they resolved to get near enough to destroy the city with their long-range guns, which would throw huge shells thirty miles or more.2 In that way they had already destroyed the venerable cathedral of Reims and reduced much of the remainder of the place to a heap of ruins.
This time their advance force succeeded in reaching and crossing the River Marne. But French and Americans acting together not only thrust them back but drove them out of Chateau-Thierry never to return.
448. Hammering out the Enemy; End of the Great War. Three days later General Foch taught the enemy that "turn about is fair play" when he began his great counter drive against the Germans -- something he had been long preparing. He saw that
1 Cantigny (can-teen-ye'). It is about sixty miles north of Paris (see Map, p. 419). General Pershing praises the action of our men there.
2 In the spring of 1918 the Germans began firing shells into Paris from a huge gun which they called "Big Bertha" and which they concealed in a forest about seventy-five miles northeast of the city. Later they added two more guns. The apparent object of the enemy was to kill or mangle as many citizens as possible in order to terrorize the rest; but the Parisians were not moved except by "intense indignation."