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Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/138

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representative citizens. It reached Petrograd June 13, 1917, and was received with respect, and in some quarters with cordiality. The aims of the Commission had been previously communicated to the Russian Government then in power by President Wilson. The work of the Commission was carried on with great energy and ability, and by July 10 Mr. Root was so encouraged that he declared that it had accomplished what it had gone to Russia to do and that it had found “no organic or incurable malady in the Russian democracy.” This same view was held by him when the Commission returned to the United States and made its report to Washington on Aug. 12. Events, however, showed that he had been too optimistic. Russia passed from democracy to Bolshevism and withdrew from the war. Still, the Root Commission had a real value in deferring, if it could not prevent, the Russian collapse.

Military preparations went on with increased energy as the signs of Russian weakening multiplied. On Aug. 14, President Wilson sent to the Senate for confirmation the names of 37 major-generals and 147 brigadier-generals, whom he had appointed as officers in the National Army. Radical changes were made in army organization to embody the lessons learned by the Allies in three years of war. The ratio of artillery strength to infantry was greatly increased. It was ordered that there should be three regiments of field artillery to every four regiments of infantry, instead of the former ratio of three to nine. The machine-gun arm was also materially enlarged. The one regiment of cavalry, that was previously a unit in every division, was abolished, as cavalry had been shown to be a comparatively unimportant factor in the war, except in the Far East. Many new services were provided for, such as gas and flame service, forestry regiments, trench, mortar, anti-aircraft and chemical units demanded by the exigencies of this greatest of all wars.

A notable episode and one that symbolized to the world the actual entry of America into active warfare was the arrival in Europe, June 8, 1917, of Major-General John J. Pershing, who had been chosen as Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces abroad. He was accompanied by his staff of 53 officers and 146 men. He received an enthusiastic greeting in London and a thrilling welcome in France, he was looked upon as the leader of a coming army of 20th Century Crusaders. He visited the tomb of Napoleon and laid a wreath on the tomb of Lafayette. Long conferences were held with the military authorities regarding American participation in the conflict. It was announced that General Pershing would determine where the American expedition should be sent, and that his decision would be final. He was to be an independent commander, in absolute control of his own forces, but co-operating with the British and the French. This arrangement continued in force until, as will be narrated later, General, afterward Marshal, Ferdinand Foch was made Generalissimo of the Allied forces, March 28, 1918.

The first units of the United States army that were to fight abroad reached a French port on June 26 and 27. They had been despatched in compliance with a Presidential order of May 18. They received a magnificent welcome from enormous crowds while bands played the “Star Spangled Banner” and the “Marseillaise.” The detachment was under the command of Major-General William L. Sibert. They and the troops that soon began to follow in an ever increasing stream were placed in French camps behind the firing line, where they were given intensive training by war veterans of the French and British armies. After this training was completed, they were placed in the trenches on comparatively quiet sectors near Toul and in Lorraine. The Germans soon learned of their presence, and subjected them to artillery fire, gas attacks and bombs dropped from airplanes. The Americans, in conjunction with the French, took part in trench raids and minor operations, and soon a growing casualty list gave warning of the sacrifice of life that was to be demanded of America before victory could be achieved.

The pressing need of shipping to transfer men and supplies to France was met in several ways. By Jan. 29, 1918, it was announced that the damage done by the crews to the seized German ships had been repaired, thus making available a tonnage of over 600,000. By an agreement with Japan and some of the neutral nations, 400,000 more tons were added to the total. On March 14, the United States and Great Britain announced their intention of seizing over 600,000 tons of Dutch shipping that was lying in their harbors, making compensation for them at the end of the war, in the meantime supplying food and fuel to Holland. This action was protested by the Dutch Government, though it was strictly in accordance with the principles of international law, and was duly carried out.

It was stated in Washington on Nov. 7, 1917, that the army at that time was 1,800,000 strong. A movement was set on foot to classify the 9,000,000 regis-