attention from the movement east of the Meuse and at the same time outflank the German position in the Argonne. The following day the Seventeenth French Corps, Maj. Gen. Claudel commanding, initiated its attack east of the Meuse against the exact point on which the German armies must pivot in order to withdraw from northern France. The troops encountered elaborate fortifications and stubborn resistance, but by nightfall had realized an advance of 6 kilometers to a line well within the Bois de Consenvoye, and including the villages of Beaumont and Haumont. Continuous fighting was maintained along our entire battle front, with especial success on the extreme left, where the capture of the greater part of the Argonne Forest was completed. The enemy contested every foot of ground on our front in order to make more rapid retirements farther west and withdraw his forces from northern France before the interruption of his railroad communications through Sedan.

41. We were confronted at this time by an insufficiency of replacements to build up exhausted divisions. Early in October combat units required some 90,000 replacements, and not more than 45,000 would be available before November 1 to fill the existing and prospective vacancies. We still had two divisions with the British and two with the French. A review of the situation, American and Allied, especially as to our own resources in men for the next two months, convinced me that the attack of the First Army and of the Allied Armies further west should be pushed to the limit. But if the First Army was to continue its aggressive tactics our divisions then with the French must be recalled, and replacements must be obtained by breaking up newly arrived divisions.

In discussing the withdrawal of our divisions from the French with Marshal Foch and Gen. Petain, on October 10, the former expressed his appreciation of the fact that the First Army was striking the pivot of the German withdrawal, and also held the view that the Allied attack should continue. Gen. Petain agreed that the American divisions with the French were essential to us if we were to maintain our battle against the German pivot. The French were, however, straining every nerve to keep up their attacks and, before those divisions with the French had been released, it became necessary for us to send the Thirty-seventh and Ninety-first Divisions from the First Army to assist the Sixth French Army in Flanders.

42. At this time the First Army was holding a front of more than 120 kilometers; its strength exceeded 1,000,000 men; it was engaged in the most desperate battle of our history, and the burden of command was too heavy for a single commander and staff. Therefore, on October 12, that portion of our front extending from Port-sur-Seille, east of the Moselle, to Fresnes-en-Woevre, southeast of Verdun, was transferred to the newly constituted Second Army with Lieut. Gen. Robert L. Bullard in command, under whom it began preparations for the extension of operations to the east in the direction of Briey and Metz. On October 16 the command of the First Army was transferred to Lieut. Gen. Hunter Liggett, and my advance headquarters was established at Ligny-en-Barrois, from which the command of the group of American Armies was exercised.

43. Local attacks of the First Army were continued in order particularly to adjust positions preparatory to a renewed general assault. The First and Fifth Divisions were relieved by the Forty-second and Eightieth Divisions, which were now fresh. An attack along the whole front was made on October 14. The resistance encountered was stubborn, but the stronghold on Cote Dame Marie was captured and the Hindenburg Line was broken. Cunel and Romagne-sous-Montfaucon were taken and the line advanced 2 kilometers north of Sommerance. A maximum advance of 17 kilometers had been made since September 26 and the enemy had been forced to throw into the fight a total of 15 reserve divisions.

During the remainder of the month important local operations were carried out, which involved desperate fighting. The First Corps, Maj. Gen. Dickman commanding, advanced through Grandpre; the Fifth Corps, Maj. Gen. Charles P. Summerall commanding, captured the Bois de Bantheville; the Third Corps, Maj. Gen. John L. Hines commanding, completed the occupation of Cunel Heights; and the Seventeenth French Corps drove the enemy from the main ridge south of La Grande Montagne. Particularly heavy fighting occurred east of the Meuse on October 18, and in the further penetration of the Kriemhilde-Stellung on October 23 the Twenty-sixth Division entering the battle at this time relieved the Eighteenth French Division.

44. Summarizing the material results which had been attained by the First Army by the end of October, we had met an increasing number of Germany’s best divisions, rising from 20 in line and reserve on September 26, to 31 on October 31; the enemy’s elaborately prepared positions, including the Hindenburg line, in our front had been broken; the almost impassable Argonne Forest was in our hands; an advance of 21 kilometers had been effected; 18,600 prisoners, 370 cannon, 1,000 machine guns, and a mass of material captured; and the great railway artery through Carignan to Sedan was now seriously threatened.

The demands of incessant battle which had been maintained day by day for more than a month had compelled our divisions to fight to the limit of their capacity. Combat troops were held in line and pushed to the attack until deemed incapable of further effort because of casualties or exhaustion; artillery once engaged was seldom withdrawn and many batteries fought until practically all the animals were casualties and the guns were towed out of line by motor trucks. The American soldier had shown unrivaled fortitude in this continuous fighting during the most inclement weather and under many disadvantages of position. Through experience, the Army had developed into a powerful and smooth-running machine, and there was a supreme confidence in our ability to carry the task successfully.

While the high pressure of these dogged attacks was a great strain on our troops, it was calamitous to the enemy. His divisions had been thrown into confusion by our furious assaults, and his morale had been reduced until his will to resist had well-nigh reached the breaking point. Once a German division was engaged in the fight, it became practically impossible to effect its relief. The enemy was forced to meet the constantly recurring crises by breaking up tactical organizations and sending hurried detachments to widely separated portions of the field.

Every member of the American Expeditionary Forces, from the front line to the base ports, was straining every nerve. Magnificent efforts were exerted by the entire Services of Supply to meet the enormous demands made on it. Obstacles which seemed insurmountable were overcome daily in expediting the movements of replacements, ammunition and supplies to the front, and of sick and wounded to the rear. It was this spirit of determination animating every American soldier that made it impossible for the enemy to maintain the struggle until 1919.


45. The detailed plans for the operations of the Allied Armies on the western front changed from time to time during the course of this great battle, but the mission of the First American Army to cut the great Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres Railroad remained unchanged. Marshal Foch coordinated the operations along the entire front, continuing persistently and unceasingly the attacks by all Allied Armies; the Belgian Army, with a French Army and two American divisions, advancing eastward; the British Armies and two American divisions, with the First French Army on their right, toward the region north of Givet; the First American Army and Fourth French Army, toward Sedan and Mezieres.

46. On the 21st my instructions were issued to the First Army to prepare thoroughly for a general attack on October 28, that would be decisive if possible. In order that the attack of the First Army and that of the Fourth French Army on its left should be simultaneous, our attack was delayed until November 1. The immediate purpose of the First Army was to take Buzancy and the heights of Barricourt, to turn the forest north of Grandpre, and to establish contact with the Fourth French Army near Boult-aux-Bois. The Army was directed to carry the heights of Barricourt by nightfall of the first day and then to exploit this success by advancing its left to Boult-aux-Bois in preparation for the drive toward Sedan. By strenuous effort all available artillery had been moved well forward to the heights previously occupied by the enemy, from which it could fully cover and support the initial advance of the infantry.

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