This Day in History, September 26, 1918: The Meuse-Argonne Campaign Begins

On September 26, 1918  the U.S. Army launched one of the largest offensives in American Military history, the Meuse-Argonne Campaign of the First World War.  More than 1.2 million soldiers of the American Expeditionary Forces engaged in this critical battle that lasted until Armstice Day.

Video Transcript

NARRATOR, ABMC SECRETARY MAX CLELAND:

On this day in history… September 26th, 1918…

…the U.S. Army launched one of the largest offensives in American Military history, the Meuse-Argonne Campaign of the First World War.  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. 

In the Meuse-Argonne, the Americans faced their greatest challenge since arriving in theatre. 

The region was of great strategic importance to the German Army. It linked their communications along the extensive four hundred mile front, and protected railways vital for transporting troops.  The German Army would hold out at all costs.

With four years of combat experience, the Germans were well prepared for the engagment. 

The rolling hills and densely wooded forests of the region provided the Germans with ideal defensive positions on which to unleash devastating machine gun and artillery fire upon the advancing American forces. 

The Americans faced a formidable adversary whose guns would not be silenced with ease. Nevertheless, the determined American offensive forced the Germans to continuiously withdraw northward, before the armistice abruptly ended the campaign and the war.

During the forty seven day battle... 

…over twenty six thousand Americans lost their lives, and nearly one hundred thousand were wounded.

Of those brave Americans who fell during the campaign fourteen thousand two hundred forty six were laid to rest at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in eastern France.  The names of over nine hundred are inscribed on the cemetery’s wall of the missing.