171. How Our Government Got Ready. We had to begin at the beginning. We had ready only a few thousand soldiers and a fairly good navy. These were but a drop in the bucket. Congress voted to raise an army of millions of men by a selective draft. Young men from

twenty-one to thirty-one, sound in body and mind, were sent to camps to be trained as soldiers. Congress also voted to build hundreds of warships and merchant vessels, and to create an army of airplanes.

Thousands of engineers, carpenters, and plumbers had been building camps in all parts of the country. A camp looked like a little city of quickly built houses: houses for soldiers to sleep in; houses to eat in; halls for games, lectures, and entertainments. Besides these there were parade grounds and grounds for athletics. Hospitals for the sick were in charge of the Red Cross. Great storehouses contained clothing and other supplies. There were rooms where the men might play games and write letters.

The Young Men’s Christian Association, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, and the Knights of Columbus had general care of entertainments and of the huts where things were sold or given away. The Hostess Houses were managed by the Young Women’s Christian Association. Later on the Salvation Army took an active part, especially among the soldiers in the trenches.

It took longer to build shipyards and to get ships ready. But it took longesi of all to get airplanes for our boys. When our navy was ready, it had grown from 69,000 men to 6oo,ooo men. The boys who were trained to fight in the air did not wait for American airplanes, but scores used English, French, and Italian machines.

The government called a number of leading men and women to be a Council of National Defense (1917). The work of this council was to arrange our industries so that everybody engaged in them would work together to win the war. This Council had charge of our fuel and food supply. In December of that year Congress placed the railroads, telegraphs, telephones, and wireless telegraphs under government control.

172. How the "Stay-at-Homes" Helped Win the War. The American people went into the war to win. In every community the Red Cross called patriotic women together to sew and knit for the boys in camps and overseas. Thousands of doctors volunteered to care for the sick and wounded. Scores upon scores of volunteer nurses went overseas.

Our people bore with patriotism the added burden of taxes. Old taxes were increased, and new ones laid upon many articles in everyday use. Heavy taxes also were put on business, and the income tax was more than doubled.

Yet all the money raised by taxes was not nearly enough. We were spending billions on the war, and soon were loaning billions to the Allies. Hence we needed billions more. A series of loans was begun. The loans were called Liberty Loans and there were five of them to meet the cost of the war. This was a very democratic way of getting money, for some

of the bonds cost only $50. Poor people could own a government bond in this way. In each loan the people gave a much larger sum than was asked. This was partly due to the work of the "fourminute-men." These were eloquent speakers who appeared in churches, theaters, factories, or wherever men met, and, in four-minute talks, urged the people to stand by the government and lend their money to help it win the war. More than $20,000,000,000 was raised by taxes and loans.

There were other bodies of men and women helping in the war. Ask your father and mother to tell you about them.

173. First Americans Arrive in Europe. In June, 1917, General Pershing, who had fought in the Philippines and in Mexico, was sent to France. The French people received him with the wildest joy. As General Pershing rode at the head of long lines of American troops, that marched to the strains of the "Marsellaise" or the "StarSpangled Banner," cries of: "The Americans have come! The Americans have come!" resounded on all sides.

Pershing and his men were toasted and feasted. The American general was taken to the tombs of Lafayette and Napoleon. New enthusiasm came to the Allies as American engineers, American marines, and American soldiers took their places and went to work.

Very soon, under Admiral Sims, came the American fleet made up of all sorts of warships. They took their place with the British fleet to guard the coast of Europe, especially the North Sea. The two fleets had almost stopped the work of the German submarine by the close of the war. They all but closed the North Sea by putting down mines from Norway to Scotland. They also put down steel nets in the Channel to catch submarines. Wherever signs of a submarine could be seen they dropped depth bombs to explode far under the sea. Fleets of small but very swift vessels swept the sea in all directions. Airplanes joined in the battle against the submarine to save England and to make safe the voyage of American soldiers and the shipment of American war supplies. The Kaiser’s attempt to starve England and to keep Americans at home was a dismal failure.

174. The Last German Drive (1918). When the Kaiser saw his submarines failing, he again planned for peace; he hoped to save his power in the East. But the Allies turned a deaf ear to all his hints.

The Kaiser had one more hope of winning. Early in 1917 there were signs of a revolution in Russia. It came in March. The Czar was driven from his throne and later assassinated. The Kaiser saw his chance. He had defeated Russia’s army by bribing the Czar’s officials, and when the Boisheviki, an extremist party, seized control, they were forced to make piece on his terms.

With the fall of Russia the Kaiser resolved to carry the German troops from Russia to France and there break through. His aim was to reach Paris and the English Channel before the American army could get to France.

The Germans began their attack late in March, with all the forces they could gather. They drove the French back over thirty miles before they were stopped. In the north the English general, Haig, stopped them before they got very far. To the southward the Germans attacked again, in May, and pushed back the French for thirty miles. These German gains made people fearful. Would the Germans reach Paris, after all these years of fighting? The French and English had used up their spare men! America was their only hope now that Russia was out of the game. Thousands of persons in France, Great Britain, and America were anxiously wondering "Will the Americans with soldiers enough to stop the Germans, reach France in time, or will all that America has done and is doing be useless because it comes too late?" The suspense was terrible.

175. The Americans to the Rescue. The Allied leaders urged America to be quick in getting troops to France. America said: "Send us ships to carry them over." England replied: "Here are our ships! Use them as best you can!"

By April, 1918, we had sent about 400,000 men to France. In answer to the Allies’ call for haste, between May and November, 1918, we raised this number to 2,000,000 men! Not a man was lost in crossing over to France, so closely were the troopships guarded by the great fleets. This seems to us almost a miracle.

While this mighty host is going over the sea, let us turn to France. There the Allies were beginning to learn what past wars always had taught. Until now the Belgians, French, and English had each had their own generals. Now a fourth was added—the American. It was almost impossible for these four generals, many miles apart from each other, to give the same orders. They might give, commands that would not agree. The great Napoleon won not only because he was a great fighter, but because the allies against him had too many heads.

The Allies now decided to appoint some great soldier from their armies to be their head. They finally agreed upon General Foch, a Frenchman. He was called Marshal Foch. He was a fine general and a noble man. Now, under Foch’s command, the four armies would move together or one at a time, as he might decide.

When the Americans first reached France, General Pershing said to Foch: "Now do with us as you think best. We are here to serve you." So Foch broke up American regiments and scattered the men among the English and French soldiers on the fighting line. Here the Americans could learn from veterans who had been fighting Germans for years. The Americans were soon ready to form an army of their own. This was the largest army ever commanded by an American general.

In April two divisions of American forces were helping General Haig in the north. They checked the enemy. In May the American marines and French reserves stopped the Germans at Cantigny. On June 4-12 American marines did some of the best fighting of the war in destroying German machine gun "nests" in Belleau Wood.

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© 2001 by Lynn Waterman