A review of the situation showed that with Russia out of the war the Central Powers would be able to release a large number of divisions for service elsewhere, and that during the spring and summer of 1918, without interfering with the status quo at Salonika, they could concentrate on the western front a force much stronger than that of the Allies. In view of this, it was represented to the War Department in December as of the utmost importance that the Allied preparations be expedited.
34. On December 31, 1917, there were 176,665 American troops in France and but one division had appeared on the front. Disappointment at the delay of the American effort soon began to develop. French and British authorities suggested the more rapid entry of our troops into the line and urged the amalgamation of our troops with their own, even insisting upon the curtailment of training to conform to the strict minimum of trench requirements they considered necessary.
My conclusion was that, although the morale of the German people and of the armies was better than it had been for two years, only an untoward combination of circumstances could give the enemy a decisive victory before American support as recommended could be made effective, provided the Allies secured unity of action. However, a situation might arise which would necessitate the temporary use of all American troops in the units of our Allies for the defensive, but nothing in the situation justified the relinquishment of our firm purpose to form our own Army under our own flag.
While the Germans were practicing for open warfare and concentrating their most aggressive personnel in shock divisions, the training of the Allies was still limited to trench warfare. As our troops were being trained for open warfare, there was every reason why we could not allow them to be scattered among our Allies, even by divisions, much less as replacements, except by pressure of sheer necessity. Any sort of permanent amalgamation would irrevocably commit America’s fortunes to the hands of the Allies. Moreover it was obvious that the lack of homogeneity would render these mixed divisions difficult to maneuver and almost certain to break up under stress of defeat, with the consequent mutual recrimination. Again, there was no doubt that the realization by the German people that independent American divisions, corps, or armies were in the field with determined purpose would be a severe blow to German morale and prestige.
It was also certain that an early appearance of the larger American units on the front would be most beneficial to the morale of the Allies themselves. Accordingly, the First Division, on January 19, 1918, took over a sector north of Toul; the Twenty-sixth Division went to the Soissons front early in February; the Forty-second Division entered the line near Luneville, February 21, and the Second Division near Verdun, March 18. Meanwhile, the First Army Corps Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Hunter Liggett, commanding, was organized at Neufchateau on January 20, and the plan to create an independent American sector on the Lorraine front was taking shape.
This was the situation when the great German offensive was launched on March 21, 1918.
Expediting Shipment of Troops
1. The War Department planned as early as July, 1917, to send to France by June 15, 1918, 21 divisions of the then strength of 20,000 men each, together with auxiliary and replacement troops, and those needed for the line of communications, amounting to over 200,000, making a total of some 650,000 men. Beginning with October 6, divisions were to be sent during that quarter, 7 during the first quarter of 1918, and 8 the second quarter. While these numbers fell short of my recommendation of July 6, 1917, which contemplated at least 1,000,000 men by May, 1918, it should be borne in mind that the main factor in the problem was the amount of shipping to become available for military purposes, in which must be included tonnage required to supply the Allies with steel, coal, and food.
2. On December 2, 1917, an estimate of the situation was cabled to the War Department with the following recommendation:
Paragraph 3. In view of these conditions, it is of the utmost importance to the Allied cause that we move swiftly. The minimum number of troops we should plan to have in France by the end of June is 4 Army corps of 24 divisions in addition to troops for service of the rear. Have impressed the present urgency upon Gen. Bliss and other American members of the conference. Gens. Robertson, Foch, and Bliss agree with me that this is the minimum that should be aimed at. This figure is given as the lowest we should think of and is placed no higher because the limit of available transportation would not seem to warrant it.
Paragraph 4. A study of transportation facilities shows sufficient American tonnage to bring over this number of troops, but to do so there must be a reduction in the tonnage allotted to other than Army needs. It is estimated that the shipping needed will have to be rapidly increased up to 2,000,000 tons by May, in addition to the amount already allotted. The use of shipping for commercial purposes must be curtailed as much as possible. The Allies are very weak and we must come to their relief this year, 1918. The year after may be too late. It is very doubtful if they can hold on until 1919 unless we give them a lot of support this year. It is therefore strongly recommended that a complete readjustment of transportation be made and that the needs of the War Department as set forth above be regarded as immediate. Further details of these requirements will be sent later.
and again on December 20, 1917:
Understood here that a shipping program based on tonnage in sight prepared in War College Division in September contemplated
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