|Section 1: Overview of Teaching and Mapping the Geography of the Meuse Argonne Offensive|
|Section 2: Introduction|
|Section 3: Where? Why There?|
|Section 4: Geography is War, A Case Study of the Argonne Forest and the Lost Battalion|
|Section 5: A Virtual Field Trip: The ABMC monuments and Meuse-Argonne Cemetery|
|Section 6: Lesson Plans, Interactive Maps and 3-D Imaging|
Essential question: Where is the Meuse-Argonne? Why did the largest land offensive in U.S. history happen here?
A.Where is the Meuse-Argonne?
Much of the land that was fought over during the Meuse-Argonne campaign was located in the region of Alsace-Lorraine, which is located in northeastern modern day France. Alsace-Lorraine borders the countries of Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. It was an area rich in natural resources and fertile farmlands. France had been seeking to establish its “natural boundaries” for hundreds of years. The Pyrenees Mountains create a natural border with Spain in the southwest. The Alps serve as a topographical border to the southeast, and the Rhine River was a border to the northeast of France.
B. Why was this land contested for hundreds of years?
As a result of its key location in Europe and its wealth of natural resources Alsace-Lorraine has been an area of contention for hundreds of years, as many nations wanted to reap the benefit of its wealth. In 58 BC, the Romans invaded Alsace and turned it into an agricultural hub, complete with fortifications for defense. Agriculture and the harvesting of natural resources dominated the economy of the region at this time, and it contained quite a bit of fertile farmland, which was especially ripe for viticulture, or the growing of grapes. Iron ore, coal, potassium chloride, and phosphate mines also contributed to the region’s wealth in natural resources.
The Celts occupied Alsace-Lorraine during the much of existence of the Roman Empire, and it became part of Lotharingia in the mid-ninth century, united with the German territories of the Carolingians. The Treaty of Mersen in 870 redistributed the land of the Carolingian Empire between the sons of Louis I. Then the Kingdom of Lotharingia was split between King Lothair’s sons, Charles and Louis after his death. In the redistribution, the Holy Roman Empire received the region of Alsace, and France took most of the modern Netherlands, Belgium and the region of Lorraine.
The Treaty of Westphalia returned Alsace to the French in 1648, and the region of Lorraine was incorporated into France in 1766. It remained French territory until the French lost the Franco-Prussian war, after which it became German land. The region was just as diverse in 1918 as it was in 1800, and much of the region spoke some sort of German dialect.
C. Why was this region important during WWI?
During World War One, the heights of this region had been contested since 1914, when France failed to retake Montfaucon on several attempts. The Crowned Prince of Germany used the splendid natural height of Montfaucon as an observation post for the Battle of Verdun in 1916.[i]The German defenses in the Meuse-Argonne region had been considered impregnable since 1915, and the American Army had a decisive strategy for how to attack this difficult terrain.
The German soldiers were organized into three main lines, each named for a witch in a Richard Wagner opera. (Access the web map Where? Why There? to see the German lines). The first line or the Etzel-Giselher Stellung included Montfaucon, and while the strongest German troops weren’t placed here, their position by nature of the terrain, was difficult to attack. The second and the strongest line was named Kriemhilde Stellung and included the heights of Romagne and Cunel, as well as the village of Grandpré. The third line, or the Freya Stellung, was the weakest line to the north. Each line consisted of a network of interlocking trenches that were protected with barbed wire. Earthen and wooden emplacements and many other sites anchored the network of German trenches. However, in between the lines lay seemingly innocuous fields and countryside.[ii]It was just a trap however, and they were full of barbed wire, pillboxes, machine gun nests and peril; the “No Man’s Land” of the Meuse-Argonne.
Most of the German heavy guns and artillery were located along the heights of the Meuse River towards the east. However, many of the forests in the region were under German control, and the Germans had quite a strong defensive system. Germans were entrenched in much of the region, especially in the vicinity of and in the Argonne Forest.[iii]For four years, the Germans dug into their positions and resisted the onslaught of Allied attacks. This perpetual fighting had weakened the German Army so that “by the autumn of 1918 much of the muscle had worn away, leaving a sickly frame of skin and bones with a fighting sparkle in its eyes.”German divisions were functioning at less than 50%, and most of the soldiers were old, sick, or weak. Morale varied amongst the German Army, however a resolve to fight until the bitter end was entrenched into nearly every man and battalion.
D. What was the Allies plan of attack?
If the Allies had figured out the importance of the Meuse-Argonne region, had not the Germans as well? The German Army was poised, waiting for the American onslaught. However, they were waiting in the wrong place. General John Joseph Pershing planned to strike quickly. He staged a fictional Tenth Army in the vicinity of St. Mihiel to distract and divert German attention. It worked, and the Allied forces now had a golden opportunity to strike in the area of the Meuse-Argonne. Pershing planned the attack in three phases.
The first phase had the Americans push to the main German line or the Kriemhilde Stellung, taking Montfaucon and forcing German evacuation of the Argonne Forest. Pershing was relying on swiftness to surprise the Germans and take advantage of their physical and mental weakness. If the mission was not completed quickly however, and German reinforcements made it to the front, the battle could rage on for months.[iv]
The second phase required the Americans to advance ten miles across a weakly defended plateau to the north of the heights of Romagne, outflanking the German defenses along the Aisne River, and opening up a route behind the German front to the town of Sedan.
Then in the third and final phase, the Americans were to attack across the heights of the Meuse to clear them of German soldiers and artillery. By then, German troops should have be retreating back into Germany, or at least that was the hope of the Allies. The Americans were facing serious disadvantages however, such as ill-prepared troops and exhausted veterans, unable to continue to fight. However, simply the Americans had more soldiers than the Germans and would outnumber them three to one on the front lines.[v]“Speed,” Pershing said, “was the thing.”[vi]
The Americans faced the task of dislodging the Germans from land so easy to defend and difficult to attack. Although the American offensive was much slower than Pershing’s intensions, the ambitious offensive, along with a dying German Army, as weakened allies and alliances resulted in the German request for surrender in November of 1918.
NEXT SECTION 4 – Geography is War: A Case Study of the Argonne Forest and the Lost Battalion?
PREVIOUS SECTION 2 – Introduction
Edward Lengel,To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918.(New York: Holt, 2008), 59.
[i]Edward Lengel,To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918.(New York: Holt, 2008), 57.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operation of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties.What was the significance of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive quizlet? ›
Why was the Meuse - Argonne offensive a significant battle of WW1? It ended the war and Germany agreed to a truce or armistice.Why did the Battle of Meuse-Argonne happen? ›
Objective. The Allied objective was the capture of the railway hub at Sedan that would break the railway network supporting the German Army in France and Flanders.What was the significance of the Battle of the Argonne Forest responses? ›
More than one million american troops joined the allies in battle. What was the significance of the Battle of the Argonne Forest? The allies pushed back the germans and broke through enemy lines, effectively invading germany.How was the Battle of Argonne Forest an important turning point in winning WWI? ›
Cover and Concealment: American soldiers made use of the dense forest terrain to conceal their movements and protect themselves from enemy fire. This tactic made it difficult for the German forces to effectively target and engage the American soldiers.Why was the Selective Service Act an important step toward winning World War I? ›
The reason for the Selective Service Act, though, was that American men had not volunteered en masse or certainly not in the numbers needed to raise, train, and deploy an army quickly after the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.When did the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in ww1 take place? › Where did the Meuse-Argonne Offensive take place? › What was the lost battalion from the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during World War I quizlet? ›
What was the "Lost Battalion" from the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during World War I? The name given to a group of 554 men isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. How did the Allies feel about Wilson's proposed treaty at the end of World War I?Who started the Meuse-Argonne Offensive? ›
The Americans faced the most difficult natural obstacle, the dense Argonne Forest. Gen. John Pershing's opening surprise attack advanced 5 miles (8 km) along the Meuse River but only 2 miles (3 km) in the difficult Argonne Forest sector.
Its uneven ground, sharp cliffs, ravines and streams were a barrier that would require fierce fighting to wrest from the entrenched Germans.What is Argonne battles? ›
The battles of the Meuse-Argonne were a series of final confrontations on the Western Front in northeastern France in World War I. They took place from September 26 to November 11, 1918. After the Second Battle of the Marne in July 1918, the Germans retreated from the Marne River area in France.How did the Battle of the Argonne Forest contribute to the Allied victory? ›
Western front's Battle of Argonne Forest contributed to the Allied victory by pushing back Germans and forcing them to capitulate. This victory ended the war and prompted a peace conference in 1919.When did the armistice go into effect? ›
The Armistice was agreed upon at 5:00 a.m. on 11 November 1918, to come into effect at 11:00 a.m. CET, for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month". Signatures were made between 5:12 a.m. and 5:20 a.m., CET.What was the lost battalion from the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during World War I? ›
The Lost Battalion is the name given to the nine companies of the US 77th Division, roughly 554 men, isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918.What was the most significant turning point of the war? ›
Battle of Stalingrad—The Turning Point of WW2
The Battle of Stalingrad is often considered the turning point of WW2. In 1942, Hitler sent an army south in an attempt to capture the Soviet Russian city that had been renamed after the Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Union capture of Vicksburg and victory at Gettysburg (July 1863)What was the turning point in the war in the Pacific Why was it important? ›
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - The Battle of Midway, referred to as the turning point of the Pacific War of World War II, took place from June 3 to 7, 1942, near the Midway atoll in the Pacific.Does Selective Service still exist? ›
Yes, you are still required to register with Selective Service.What happens if you don't do Selective Service? ›
If required to register with Selective Service, failure to register is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment. Also, a person who knowingly counsels, aids, or abets another to fail to comply with the registration requirement is subject to the same penalties.
Nearly 370,000 black men either volunteered for or were drafted into, the United States Army during the war. Although the majority of black troops served in support units, the 92nd and 93rd Divisions served in combat. Both divisions saw action during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.What was the zigzag pattern of trenches on the front lines designed to do during World War 1? ›
The trenches were built in a zig-zag pattern to keep raiding enemies from firing down the full length of the fortification.What was the most significant impact of heavy artillery and machine guns in World War 1? ›
Weapons played a large part in creating the difficult and unusual circumstances of trench warfare which the British Army encountered during the First World War (1914-18). The destructive power of modern artillery and machine guns forced soldiers to seek cover on the battlefield and dig in for protection.In what ways was ww1 a global conflict? ›
The First World War was the first truly global conflict. From 1914 to 1918, fighting took place across several continents, at sea and, for the first time, in the air. This was war on an unprecedented scale, with battles often lasting months instead of days.How was the U.S. affected by ww1? ›
In addition, the conflict heralded the rise of conscription, mass propaganda, the national security state and the FBI. It accelerated income tax and urbanisation and helped make America the pre-eminent economic and military power in the world.What was the objective of the Spring offensive in March 1918? ›
The intention of the German offensive, codenamed Operation Michael, was to overrun the British defences and advance rapidly to the Channel ports, capturing the strategically crucial rail junctions of Arras and Amiens on the way.Why was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive a significant battle of WWI? ›
More than 1.2 million Americans took part in this 47 day offensive. Of these, more than 26,000 lost their lives. The scale and results of this offensive underscored America's emerging role on the world stage, and helped bring an end to the war.Why were they called the Lost Battalion? ›
The Lost Battalion is the name given to a group of U.S. Army units of the 77th Division that fought together in France during World War I. The soldiers were not lost but were cut off from the main body of the U.S. troops after the Germans surrounded them on October 2–7, 1918.How long was the Lost Battalion in the Argonne Forest how many marched out after the ordeal was over? ›
In October 1918, 600 men of the 77th Division attacked a heavily defended German position, charging forward until they were completely surrounded by enemy forces. Only 194 men walked out when they were finally rescued.What are important facts about the Meuse-Argonne Offensive? ›
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operation of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties.
The preliminary bombardment, using some 800 mustard gas and phosgene shells, killed 278 German soldiers and incapacitated more than 10,000.What was the deadliest battle in American history? ›
The deadliest single-day battle in American history, if all engaged armies are considered, is the Battle of Antietam with 3,675 killed, including both United States and Confederate soldiers (total casualties for both sides was 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing Union and Confederate soldiers September 17, 1862).What happened to soldiers who were captured by the enemy? ›
During the conflict prisoners might be repatriated or delivered to a neutral nation for custody. At the end of hostilities all prisoners are to be released and repatriated without delay, except those held for trial or serving sentences imposed by judicial processes.Who won the Battle of Argonne? ›
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.What was the significance of the Battle of the Argonne Forest quizlet? ›
What was the significance of the Battle of the Argonne Forest? The allies pushed back the germans and broke through enemy lines, effectively invading germany.What is Argonne known for? ›
Argonne is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center, where talented scientists and engineers work together to answer the biggest questions facing humanity, from how to obtain affordable clean energy to protecting ourselves and our environment.What is significant about the Argonne Forest? ›
At dawn on September 26, 1918, General Pershing's troops launched an attack along the Meuse River and into northern France's rugged Argonne Forest that would prove to be the deadliest battle in American history.What was the critical impact of the Battle of Argonne Forest? ›
Germans losses numbered 28,000 killed and 92,250 wounded. Coupled with British and French offensives elsewhere on the Western Front, the assault through the Argonne was critical in breaking German resistance and bringing World War I to an end.Who was the last soldier killed in ww1? ›
Just two minutes before the Armistice ended hostilities at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, Pvt. Henry N. Gunther, of the 79th Infantry Division's 313th Infantry Regiment, was shot and killed in France as he charged a German roadblock in the village of Chaumont-devant-Damvillers near Meuse.What happens at 11am on Veterans Day? ›
At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes “Present Arms” at the tomb. The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath.
|Albert Otto Walter Mayer|
|Buried||German Military Cemetery, Alsace, France|
|Service/branch||Imperial German Army|
|Years of service||1912–14|
Summary. Based on the experiences of soldiers in the American 77th Infantry Division, about 550 of whom were isolated and surrounded by the Germans during the Battle of the Argonne in World War I. The men suffered from thirst, hunger, and heavy losses, but refused to surrender.Did the Lost Battalion survive? ›
Roughly 197 were killed in action and approximately 150 missing or taken prisoner before the 194 remaining men were rescued. They were led by Major Charles W. Whittlesey.What was the deadliest Battle in American history? ›
The deadliest single-day battle in American history, if all engaged armies are considered, is the Battle of Antietam with 3,675 killed, including both United States and Confederate soldiers (total casualties for both sides was 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing Union and Confederate soldiers September 17, 1862).Where was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive fought? › What was the most deaths in a battle for one day? ›
The heaviest loss of life for a single day occurred on July 1, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, when the British Army suffered 57,470 casualties.What's the deadliest war in history? ›
World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China.What was the most brutal battle of the Civil War? ›
The Battle of Antietam is commonly considered the single bloodiest day of the Civil War. Q: What Civil War battle had the most casualties? Again, the Battle of Antietam claimed the most human lives of any battle in the Civil War.What was the United States Army's role in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive? ›
More than one point two million soldiers of the American Expeditionary Forces engaged in this critical battle that lasted until Armstice Day. The campaign supported the entire Allied offensive that would extend from Verdun, France, through Belgium all the way to the English Channel.Who planned the Meuse-Argonne Offensive? ›
It worked, and the Allied forces now had a golden opportunity to strike in the area of the Meuse-Argonne. Pershing planned the attack in three phases.
In addition, the conflict heralded the rise of conscription, mass propaganda, the national security state and the FBI. It accelerated income tax and urbanisation and helped make America the pre-eminent economic and military power in the world.What was the first American offensive in ww1? ›
In the first sustained American offensive of World War I, an Allied force including a full brigade of nearly 4,000 United States soldiers captures the village of Cantigny, on the Somme River in France, from their German enemy.How important was America's entry into the war to the Allied cause? ›
The entry of the United States was the turning point of the war, because it made the eventual defeat of Germany possible. It had been foreseen in 1916 that if the United States went to war, the Allies' military effort against Germany would be upheld by U.S. supplies and by enormous extensions of credit.What gun has the most kills in history? ›
No firearm of any kind has killed more people – or been more widely embraced as a symbol – than the AK-47 Kalashnikov.Which weapon killed the most in ww1? ›
- World War I was a war of artillery - The Big Guns. ...
- Different types of weapons made up the artillery of WWI. ...
- 60% of the battlefield casualties in WWI were caused by artillery shells exploding. ...
- Artillery was more destructive than ever before.
Artillery (heavy guns) played a big part in the battlefields of World War I. A bombardment that was aimed well could destroy enemy trenches, and knock out artillery batteries (groups of guns) and communication lines. It could also help break up an attack by infantry (soldiers on foot).