One hundred years ago this month, WWI ended with an armistice on November 11, 1918. The ‘war to end all wars’ was over. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, America swore “Never Again!”
WWI shattered empires, monarchies, kingdoms and, more importantly, countless innocent men, women and children. Its greatest legacy was creating fertile ground for the rise of two of the most evil men in the history of the world – The German and the Japanese.
I did not know much about WWI except the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary which started it. I always wanted to read about WWI since we have so many WWI books at home. I finally started “The Guns of August” by Barbara Tuckman. It’s a good start. But then again, I have other interesting subjects I want to read. It’s always the case of “too many books, too little time”.
When I asked my husband where his father, Lt. Robert Morgan, fought in WWI, he said Meuse Argonne. He was with the 77th Division, Machine Gun Unit. He survived the war.
Where is Meuse Argonne? I have never heard of the place. The only thing I heard often was the battle at the Somme. But then tonight, I just caught the end of the movie “Sgt York” on TCM and it mentioned Meuse Argonne.
Well, here is what I found out about Meuse Argonne.
- The Meuse Argonne region was located in a very hilly area in the Alsace-Lorraine region that was heavily fortified by the Germans. If the Germans broke through this area they could easily take Paris. Likewise, if the American and French forces could push the Germans out of this area they could deeply influence a surrender.
- This battlefield was a very large, highly fortified area full of towns, hills, trenches, roads, and railroads. The only way to take it would be to get out of the trenches and go on the offensive. Hence the name, Meuse Argonne Offensive.
- There were 5 important “heights” that needed to be taken in order to control this region. They were: Montfaucon, Romagne Heights, Heights of the Meuse, Argonne Forest, and Barricourt Heights.
- General Pushing hoped to capture this area in about 6-7 days. It would really take 6 weeks!
- Meuse Argonne Offensive also known as Battles of the Meuse Argonne was the deadliest battle in American history involving 1.2 million American soldiers. It was fought from September 26, 1918 until the Armistice of November 11, 1918, a total of 47 days. The battle cost 28,000 German lives, 26,277 American lives and an unknown number of French lives.
Here is the timeline of The Great War:
6-28-1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated.
8-01-1914 – Germany declares war on Russia.
4-06-1917 – The U.S. declares war on Germany after the sinking of three U.S. merchant ships by German U-boats.
6-26-1917 – American troops begin landing in France.
11-11-1918 – Germany accepts the armistice terms demanded by the Allies, ending the war.
6-28-1919 – The Treaty of Versailles is signed at the Palace of Versailles, France.
By the numbers:
70 million – the number of men mobilized by warring countries in WWI. Almost half were killed or injured during the four-year conflict.
France – 1.4 million dead, 4.2 million injured.
Germany – 1.8 million dead, 4.2 million injured.
Austria-Hungary – 1.4 million dead, 3.6 million injured.
Russia – 1.8 million dead, five million injured.
Britain and British Empire – 900,000 dead, two million injured.
Italy – 600,000 dead, one million injured.
United States – 116,500 dead, 204,000 injured.
Ottoman Empire – 800,000 dead.
10 million refugees
3 million war widows
6 million orphans
In addition, millions of civilians died in massacres and another 20-30 million perished in an influenza epidemic called “Spanish Flu” that broke out at the end of the war among populations weakened by years of deprivation.
Click the link below to see the end of the war or start from the beginning to see the whole battle experience of Meuse Argonne Offensive.
Remember those who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy our freedom today.
Source: Newsmax, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica