History of the American Nation by William J. Jackman

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Author: William James Jackman

The Field of Battle

As a result of these decisions the depth of the St. Mihiel operation was limited to the line Vigneulles-Thiaucourt-Regnieville. The number of divisions to be used was reduced and the time shortened. Eighteen to nineteen divisions were to be in the front line. There were four French and fifteen American divisions available, six of which would be in reserve, while the two flank divisions of the front line were not to advance. Furthermore, two Headquarters, with their corps troops, practically all the army artillery and aviation, and the 1st, 2d, and 4th Divisions, the first two destined to take a leading part in the St. Mihiel attack, were all due to be withdrawn and started for the Meuse-Argonne by the fourth day of the battle.

The salient had been held by the Germans since September, 1914. It covered the most sensitive section of the enemy’s position on the western front, namely, the Mezieres-Sedan-Metz railroad and the Briey Iron Basin; it threatened the entire region between Verdun and Nancy, and interrupted the main rail line from Paris to the east. Its primary strength lay in the natural defensive features of the terrain itself. The western face of the salient along the rugged, heavily wooded eastern heights of the Meuse; the southern face followed the heights of the Meuse for eight kilometers to the east and then crossed the plain of the Woevre, including within the German lines the detached heights of Loupmont and Montsec which dominated the plain and afforded the enemy unusual facilities for observation. The enemy had reenforced the positions by every artificial means during a period of four years.

On the night of September 11 the troops of the First Army were deployed in position. On the southern face of the salient was the 1st Corps, Major Gen. Liggett commanding, with the 82d, 19th, 5th and 2d Divisions in line, extending from the Moselle westward. On its left was the 4th Corps, Major Gen. Joseph T. Dickman commanding, with the 89th, 42d and 1st Divisions, the left of this corps being opposite Montsec. These two army corps were to deliver the principal attack, the line pivoting on the center division of the 1st Corps. The 1st Division, on the left of the 4th Corps, was charged with the double mission of covering its own flank while advancing some twenty kilometers due north toward the heart of the salient, where it was to make contact with the troops of the 5th Corps. On the western face of the salient lay the 5th Corps, Major Gen. Geo. H. Cameron commanding, with the 26th Division, 15th French Colonial Division and the 4th Division in line, from Mouilly west to Les Eparges and north to Watronville. Of these three divisions the 26th alone was to make a deep advance directed southeast toward Vigneulles. The French division was to make a short progression to the edge of the heights in order to cover the left of the 26th. The 4th Division was to make a deep advance directed southeast to [sic] and 5th Army Corps, was the 2d French Colonial Corps, Major Gen. E. J. Blondlat commanding, covering a front of forty kilometers with three small French divisions. These troops were to follow up the retirement of the enemy from the tip of the salient.

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Chicago: William James Jackman, "The Field of Battle," History of the American Nation by William J. Jackman in William J. Jackman, Jacob H. Patton, and Rossiter Johnson. History of the American Nation, 9 Vols. (Chicago: K. Gaynor, 1911), Pp.2542-2543 Original Sources, accessed January 26, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EIU7FZ4H1P5BQZ.

MLA: Jackman, William James. "The Field of Battle." History of the American Nation by William J. Jackman, in William J. Jackman, Jacob H. Patton, and Rossiter Johnson. History of the American Nation, 9 Vols. (Chicago: K. Gaynor, 1911), Pp.2542-2543, Original Sources. 26 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EIU7FZ4H1P5BQZ.

Harvard: Jackman, WJ, 'The Field of Battle' in History of the American Nation by William J. Jackman. cited in , William J. Jackman, Jacob H. Patton, and Rossiter Johnson. History of the American Nation, 9 Vols. (Chicago: K. Gaynor, 1911), Pp.2542-2543. Original Sources, retrieved 26 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EIU7FZ4H1P5BQZ.