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Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/145

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weeks the most careful and intensive campaign was prepared. More than 100,000 detail maps were issued showing the character of the terrain and the posts held by the enemy. 40,000 photographs were distributed among the officers and men. Five thousand miles of wire were laid and 6,000 telephone instruments were connected with the wires. Nothing was left to chance, the result being one of the most signal and overwhelming victories of the war.

The position of the American army just preceding the battle is thus officially stated by General Pershing:

From Les Eparges around the nose of the salient at St. Mihiel to the Moselle river the line was, roughly, forty miles long and situated on commanding ground greatly strengthened by artificial defenses. Our 1st Corps (82d, 90th, 5th, and 2d Divisions), under command of Major-General Hunter Liggett, resting its right on Pont-à-Mousson, with its left joining our 3d Corps (the 89th, 42d, and 1st Divisions), under Major-General Joseph T. Dickman, in line to Xivray, was to swing toward Vigneulles on the pivot of the Moselle river for the initial assault. From Xivray to Mouilly the 2d Colonial French Corps was in line in the center, and our 5th Corps, under command of Major-General George H. Cameron, with our 26th Division and a French division at the western base of the salient, was to attack three difficult hills—Les Eparges, Combres, and Amaranthe. Our 1st Corps had in reserve the 78th Division, our 4th Corps the 3d Division, and our First Army the 35th and 91st Divisions, with the 80th and 33d available. It should be understood that our corps organizations are very elastic, and that we have at no time had permanent assignments of divisions to corps.

On Sept. 12, 1918, the assault was begun, and resulted in a sweeping victory. The tanks in advance broke down the enemy entanglements, and a tremendous artillery fire prepared the way for the dash of the infantry. The attack began at dawn, and within 27 hours after the beginning of the offensive, the Americans had recaptured 155 square miles of territory and had taken 433 guns and 16,000 prisoners, together with vast stores of munitions and supplies. The remainder of the enemy, numbering about 100,000, fled in hasty retreat. The victory freed Verdun from the menace of the German threat against its flank, put the dominating heights of the Meuse in American hands and cleared the way for an advance toward the Briey basin and the fortress of Metz.

While our soldiers abroad were thus demonstrating that as fighting men they had no superiors in the world, renewed endeavors had been made in this country to augment the size of American armies. A new draft law was enacted by Congress and signed by the President on Aug. 31, 1918, extending the American draft ages to all males between 18 and 45 inclusive. The number of men estimated to be affected by this law was about 13,000,000. The day of registration was set as Sept. 12, which by a coincidence chanced to be the date of the victory of St. Mihiel. It was believed that about 2,300,000 men could be obtained for military service under this registration. This would make it possible for America's total army in the field to be brought to 5,000,000 men, of whom it was believed that eighty divisions aggregating 4,000,000 could be in France by June 30, 1919. This would leave 18 divisions to be trained and held in readiness at home. It was a colossal program, and would doubtless have been carried out, had not the collapse of the Central Powers made it unnecessary.

The work of the American army at St. Mihiel was equalled by the operations of other units that were brigaded with the Allies. The 27th and 30th Divisions were brigaded with the British troops and fought in company with the Australians in the brilliant series of attacks that smashed the Hindenburg line in the vicinity of the St. Quentin canal, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. They reached all their objectives, despite the most bitter artillery and machine-gun resistance. In less than two weeks they had overrun the enemy's lines to a depth of thirteen miles and had captured 6,000 prisoners. Their casualties were heavy, but did not compare with those inflicted upon the enemy.

Two other divisions, the 2d and 36th, aided the French in driving the Germans from positions they had held for four years in the Rheims sector. In the week Oct. 2-9, they stormed and held the formidable position of Blanc Mount, and later captured the town of Ste. Etienne in bloody fighting. A little later, the 37th and 91st Divisions, which had been sent in haste to re-enforce the French troops operating in Belgium, took part in a brilliant advance that on Oct. 31 and Nov. 3 crushed the enemy's resistance, and drove his troops across the Escaut river, the American forces reaching the town of Audenarde. In Italy also American troops did gallant work in the last great Italian drive against Austria.

While these decisive operations were proceeding on the western front, United States troops were taking part also in