33. At the moment of the opening of the Meuse-Argonne battle, the enemy had 10 divisions in line and 10 in reserve on the front between Fresnes-en-Woevre and the Argonne Forest, inclusive. He had undoubtedly expected a continuation of our advance toward Metz. Successful ruses were carried out between the Meuse River and Luneville to deceive him as to our intentions, and French troops were maintained as a screen along our front until the night before the battle, so that the actual attack was a tactical surprise.

34. The operations in the Meuse-Argonne battle really form a continuous whole, but they extended over such a long period of continuous fighting that they will be considered in three phases, the first from September 26 to October 3, the second from October 4 to 31, and the third from November 1 to 11.

35. On the night of September 25, the 9 divisions to lead in the attack were deployed between the Meuse River and the western edge of the Argonne Forest. On the right was the Third Corps, Maj. Gen. Bullard commanding, with the Thirty-third, Eightieth, and Fourth Divisions in line; next came the Fifth Corps, Maj. Gen. Cameron commanding, with the Seventy-ninth, Thirty-seventh, and Ninety-first Divisions; on the left was the First Corps, Maj. Gen. Liggett commanding, with the Thirty-fifth, Twenty-eighth, and Seventy-seventh Divisions. Each corps had 1 division in reserve and the Army held 3 divisions as a general reserve. About 2,700 guns, 189 small tanks, 142 manned by Americans, and 821 airplanes, 604 manned by Americans, were concentrated to support the attack of the infantry. We thus had a superiority in guns and aviation, and the enemy had no tanks.

The axis of the attack was the line Montfaucon-Romagne-Buzancy, the purpose being to make the deepest penetration in the center, which, with the Fourth French Army advancing west of the Argonne, would force the enemy to evacuate that forest without our having to deliver a heavy attack in that difficult region.

36. Following three hours of violent artillery fire of preparation, the infantry advanced at 5:30 a. m. on September 26, accompanied by tanks. During the first two days of the attack, before the enemy was able to bring up his reserves, our troops made steady progress through the network of defenses. Montfaucon was held tenaciously by the enemy and was not captured until noon of the second day.

By the evening of the 28th a maximum advance of 11 kilometers had been achieved and we had captured Baulny, Epinonville, Septsarges, and Dannevoux. The right had made a splendid advance into the woods south of Brieulles-sur-Meuse, but the extreme left was meeting strong resistance in the Argonne. The attack continued without interruption, meeting six new divisions which the enemy threw into the first line before September 29. He developed a powerful machine gun defense supported by heavy artillery fire, and made

Table of Contents
Back to Legacy