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American Involvement in WWI
Use the Text to answer the following about the Battles of WWI that the United States was a part of
3rd Battle of
2nd Battle of
St. Mihiel
Why it is significant
The Second Battle of the Marne
was the last German offensive of
the war. The Germans hoped to
make a breakthrough before large
numbers of American troops could
The German were hoping for a
breakthrough and their attack
began on July 15th when 23
divisions of their First and Third
Army attacked east of the Reims
River. At the same time an
additional 17 division from the
German Seventh Army attacked to the west of the river.
The attack by the First and Third Army’s were stopped on the first day. The attack to the west of the river was more successful. The
Germans successfully established a bridgehead. The German advanced 4 miles on a front that was 12 miles wide. The British and the
Americans rushed troops to stem the German advance. They were successful. By July 17 the advance was stopped.
The Allies launched a counter offensive that included eight American divisions and 350 tanks. The offensive was launched on July 18th.
By July 20th the Germans ordered a retreat to the lines that they had begun the offensive.
The Battle Marne was a turning point in the war. Besides marking that last German offensive of the war, it marked the entry of American
troops into the war. By all accounts despite their lack of experience they equipped themselves bravely in the battles. More importantly the
arrival of fresh American troops unburdened by years of warfare strengthened all of the Allies giving the average soldier a feeling that the
war might end.
3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) July31- November 6, 1917
The Third Battle of Ypres - also known as Passchendaele - has shaped perceptions of the First World War on the Western
Front. Fought between July and November 1917, both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured appalling conditions. The
name Passchendaele has become synonymous with mud, blood and futility.
In 1917, General Sir Douglas Haig planned a major offensive to break out of the Ypres salient, which the Allies had occupied
since 1914.
Haig's vision was for a war-winning breakthrough. He planned to capture the high ground around Ypres, as well as a key rail
junction to the east, and then advance on the German-occupied ports of the Belgian coast - critical to the U-Boat campaign.
The battle failed to achieve Haig's objectives. It lasted over 100 days. In that time, the Allies advanced about 5 miles for the loss
of over 500,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing.
On May 28, 1918 the American 1st Division led an assault on the town of Cantigny, France, making it the first divisional attack
by the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. Prior to this attack, American soldiers had been at the front for
operational training serving as part of experienced British and French units. The success of this attack proved that American
forces had the training, tools and leadership necessary to be a major threat to the Germans.
The AEF’s 1st Division had shown that American troops could perform effectively in larger coordinated operations with other
Allied armies, and that large American units could defend against determined enemy attacks. Though relatively small, the
successful attack on Cantigny added a spirit of self-confidence to American forces. The battle left the Allies feeling
encouraged, and optimistic about the employment of further American divisions, corps, and armies. The efficiency of
American preparation and execution of a difficult operation was a foreshadowing of the energy and ability they would display
in the coming months.
The Battle of Château-Thierry was a significant battle of World
War I along the Western Front, which was the line of trenches
that stretch through Belgium and northern France on the western
edge of Germany. One of the main reasons that the Battle of
Château-Thierry was so significant was because it was the first
major conflict that involved American forces in World War I.
The Battle of Château-Thierry took place on May 31st, 1918 and
was part of the larger Second Battle of the Marne, which was
related to the German Spring Offensives of 1918. As such, a
major component of the Battle of Château-Thierry, was Allied
forces (French and American soldiers) defending their positions
against German attacks. The Germans began their assault on the
French line and overran the French 6th Army. As a result, The
American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under the command of
John J. Pershing circled around to assist the French and stop the
German advance. More specifically, the Germans were able to
push through the French defenses and made it to the Marne
River, which was only about 50 miles from the French capital of
Paris. As such, the American 3rd Division was mobilized to an
important bridge on the Marne River near the town of Château-Thierry on May 31st in 1918 in aid of the French.
The Germans attacked the bridge, as the American and French defenders replied with heavy machinegun fire. The fighting
continued with artillery and sniper fire, which led to numerous casualties on both sides. The Allies were successful in
preventing a German advance and were even able to carry out their own counter-attack. For example, on July 18th, 1918,
French and American forces attacked German positions near Château-Thierry, which caused the Germans to retreat from the
area. In all, the Battle of Château-Thierry was an important Allied victory and one of the first engagements for the newly
formed American Expeditionary Force in World War I. During the battle, the Americans and French suffered a combined 1,900
casualties, while the Germans endured over 5,300.
Battle of Saint-Mihiel
The Battle of Saint-Mihiel occurred
between September 12 and 15, 1918, in
and around the town of Saint-Mihiel,
France, nearly two hundred miles east of
Paris. It became the only American led
offensive in World War I. US General
John J. Pershing pressured French
General Ferdinand Foch to give American
forces responsibility over this sector.
Pershing wanted American troops to show
their abilities; he did not want US forces
to operate as components of the
integrated Allied forces, under the command of seasoned French and British senior officers. He hoped the Saint-Mihiel
operation would penetrate German defenses and capture the strategic city of Metz, near the German border. The battle
resulted in an American victory, even if it did not reach Metz. Foch’s desire to begin what became the war’s final push,
meant that the Allied leadership rerouted US forces for the final battle of the war. Captain George Marshall, responsible
for logistics, managed an incredibly complex shift of men and material in just about a dozen days so US forces could
start the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the US sector of the final battle, on September 26, 1918.
The US Army Air Service played a critical role in the battle’s outcome, pivoting victory towards the Allies with its use
of close air support and the denial of Central power air superiority. While Allied air assets included British, French, and
Italian pilots and aircrewmen, forty percent of Allied airpower was American. Roughly 1,500 Allied aircraft made the
Battle of Saint-Mihiel the largest air operation of the war. Allied leadership and strategy also played a significant role in
shaping the battle’s outcome. Pershing employed a combined-arms approach to penetrate stiff German trenches, using
mixed unit composition to further the American advance. US forces suffered 7,000 casualties of a force of 550,000
troops. Noteworthy American officers included, the aforementioned George C. Marshall, who led the Marshall Plan that
rebuilt Europe after World War II, as well as William "Billy" Mitchell, the father of American air power, and George
Patton, the seasoned tank commander of World War II (1939-1945). US military officer candidates study the leadership
of small field unit officers at Saint-Mihiel today.
The Battle of Meuse-Argonne
The Battle of Argonne Forest was part of what became known
as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the last battle of World War
I . It was a massive attack along the whole line, with the
immediate goal of reaching the railroad junction as Sedan. The
US had over 1 million troops now available to fight. While the
US troops were not battle tested, the introduction of over 1
million well armed troops into a battle that had exhausted
armies for four years would prove decisive.
Commanding US troops was General Pershing. Responsible for
the logistics was Colonel George Marshall. The American
offensive began on September 26th, 1918 North of Verdun. It
began like all World War I battles with a massive artillery
attack. The American forces had mixed results in the first stage
of the battle that lasted until October 3rd. German resistance
was strong, but the sheer numbers of the Americans slowly
forced the German back. Meanwhile the French and British
troops to the North were having similar success, slow but
steady advances. By the end of the second stage of the battle
which lasted from October 6th to 26th the American forces had
advanced over 10 miles and cleared the Argonne Forest.
In the final stage of the battle which lasted until the Armistice
of November 11, 1918 American forces advanced on Metz,
while French forces conquered the goal of the campaign Sedan. The Americans suffered 192,000 casualties in the battle
including 26,277 killed. The French suffered 70,000 casualties, while the Germans had 126,000 casualties among them 56,000