Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/144

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sion of the high ground N. W. of Château-Thierry. In a five-hour fight, they captured Bouresches and Torcy. Far bitterer was the fight that followed for the possession of Belleau Wood, where marines and regular soldiers won imperishable fame. The wood was densely forested, was defended by artillery and machine-gun nests and was held by the crack divisions of the German army. But the Americans pressed doggedly forward, gaining ground foot by foot, and at last in a headlong charge swept the remnants of the enemy forces from the wood, capturing hundreds of prisoners, while the ground was carpeted with German dead.

On July 1, at Vaux, the Americans, acting alone, captured the town in forty minutes, taking 500 prisoners. On July 4, in a great attack at Hamel, Independence Day was celebrated by the Americans in conjunction with the Australians by a victory that netted 1,500 prisoners. The resistance was determined, but the Americans advanced to the charge uttering the cry “Lusitania,” and the fate of the day was decided.

The greatest action of the war so far for the Americans was that of July 15, when they stopped the thrust of the German Crown Prince toward Paris. The American forces were holding Jaulgonne and Dormans on the Marne. The Germans threw 25,000 of their best troops across the river. Under the shock of the great masses hurled against them the American line at first bent, but quickly rallied and threw the enemy back across the river. The Germans lost 10,000 men in killed and captured. Had the Germans broken through on that epic occasion, they would have had excellent chances of reaching the French capital.

On the following day, the Germans again attacked the American forces, only to be driven back with heavy loss. The Germans were wavering and confused. They had met with a sharp defeat, where they had confidently counted on victory. And at that critical juncture, Foch struck at them on a 28-mile front in the most magnificent counter-attack of the war. Americans in this attack were brigaded with the French troops under General Mangin and played a prominent part in the great advance to the Vesle and the Ourcq that followed the initial victory. South of Soissons, they pushed the Allied line farthest ahead. They took Fère-en-Tardenois in conjunction with the French. At Sergy, they drove the Germans beyond the Ourcq. On Aug. 1, after fighting of the severest kind, they stormed and captured Meunières Wood. At the Vesle American engineers, under fierce artillery fire, threw bridges over the stream, over which their comrades swarmed with a determination that would not be denied. In those weeks of continuous and bloody fighting the Americans were always at the front, and were everywhere victorious.

On Aug. 7, General Mangin issued the following order of the day:

Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Soldiers of the American army:

Shoulder to shoulder with your French comrades, you threw yourselves into the counter-offensive begun July 18. You ran to it as if going to a feast. Your magnificent dash upset and surprised the enemy, and your indomitable tenacity stopped counter-attacks by his fresh divisions. You have shown yourselves to be worthy sons of your great country, and have gained the admiration of your brothers in arms.

Ninety-one cannon, 7,200 prisoners, immense booty and ten kilometers of reconquered territory are your share of the trophies of this victory. Besides this, you have acquired a feeling of your superiority over the barbarian enemy against whom the children of liberty are fighting. To attack him is to vanquish him.

American comrades, I am grateful to you for the blood you generously spilled on the soil of my country. I am proud of having commanded you during such splendid days, and to have fought with you for the deliverance of the world. In the operations following this great victory the American force took a brilliant part in smashing the Hindenburg line. Their steady drive against the Crown Prince's army compelled its retreat on a twenty-mile line on Sept. 4, At the battle of Juvigny, Aug. 29, the Americans captured Juvigny plateau, one division conquering four of the best of the German divisions.

In the meantime, a great American attack was being prepared in the Lorraine sector entirely under the direction of General Pershing and his assistants. The plan and strategy were American throughout, as were the bulk of the forces employed, although some French troops co-operated under Pershing's command.

The St. Mihiel salient was a wedge that had been driven by the Germans into French territory in the vicinity of the village of that name, and had been held in force by them since the first invasion in 1914. It effectually prevented an Allied offensive in the direction of Metz. During four years the French had not been able to reduce it. The Americans undertook the task and for