previous arrow
next arrow
Slider
previous arrow
next arrow
Slider

World War I Centennial News


 

Bells of Peace Participation Update

Bells of Peace iconWhat is Bells of Peace?
In 2018, we launched the Bells of Peace initiative to create a national bell tolling at 11am local on 11/11 as a WWI Armistice Centennial remembrance. It was a major success, prompting The Doughboy Foundation to promote "Bells of Peace" as an annual moment of remembrance on Veterans Day to reflect on "The War that Changed the World" and those who were changed by it.

 

 

Bells of Peace in these Pandemic times

In these difficult pandemic times, a number of people have reached out to us wanting to participate but concerned that getting groups together on Nov. 11th is perhaps unadvisable. That got us thinking… like so many other things we have all gotten good at doing in a distanced way, why not adapt Bells of Peace to a Zoom Event? Anyone who would like some support please Contact us

You are invited to join OUR Bells of Peace Zoom Events.
There will be a Bells of Peace ceremony on zoom for each time zone. We have put together a very nice program that is around 30-40 minutes long and will start at 10:45 am local on November 11, 2020. We will start at 10:45 Eastern and repeat every hour for Central, Mountain, Pacific, Alaska and Hawaii.

How can you participate?
We are using the Bells of Peace Participation App to coordinate.
As you may know, we have the new 2020 Bells of Peace Participation App. If you have not downloaded it yet you’ll find links at ww1cc.org/bells under the app tile, or search for “Bells of Peace” in your phone’s app store. Then pledge to participate  (see the register/countdown screen below) this will put you on the mailing list for getting the Zoom Tolling invitation.

Bells of Peace App three key screens: Register, Toll and Share

Sharing your OWN Bells of Peace
About 3,000 people are active on the app now and around 550 groups and individuals have contacted us about tolling. The goal is to create a community of participation. To do this, we encourage you to tag your social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube with #BellsOfPeace. This will bring your posts into our aggregation system. We monitor this and if your post is about Bells of Peace or the 100 day countdown to it, we will add your post to both our web site and right into the share area of the participation app.

In the App, check the share button (see above, it looks like a camera). Even if you don't have a social media account, you can post your participation right from inside the app in this area, adding picture and videos of your event.
We will also repost your participation shares on our website at  ww1cc.org/BOP-share.

Doughboy Foundation LogoThank you for your participation in this program. Bells of Peace is brought to you by The Doughboy Foundation: Keeping Faith with the American Doughboys and all those who served in WWI.


 

 

VINSON STORY SOLDIERSA group of American and French soldiers gather in the Argonne Forest as they worked to clear the area of German forces. The formerly dense forest has been denuded of trees by fierce shelling between the opposing armies. Photo courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library by way of the National Archives. 

Lebanon soldier’s sacrifice recalled by VFW post 

By Jeff Brown, Camden VFW Post No. 3238
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Almost 10,000 members of the United States armed services in World War I came from Delaware. Of those, 43 had died by the time the guns fell silent at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918.

VINSON STORY PORTRAIT 300Clarence VinsonFor the family of Pvt. Clarence Vinson, the news of the armistice was tinged with uncertainty. James and Maggie Vinson of Lebanon, Del., knew their 28-year-old son was in the midst of some of the heaviest fighting of the conflict. What they did not know was that their only child had not lived to see the end of the war, dying only eight days before the end of the fighting.

VFW logo 300In recognition of Vinson’s service and sacrifice, the Camden Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3238, was dedicated in his honor in March 1935.

Larry Josefowski, incoming commander of the Clarence Vinson/John Chason VFW post, reflected on Vinson’s life and legacy.

“Vinson’s story, of one giving his life for his country, is a story that has been 1.6 million times our country’s history,” he said. “Our post is co-named for him as an honor for his sacrifice, but also as a reminder that we must not forget that sacrifice and the sacrifices made by all who answered our nation’s call.”

An ordinary family

Clarence Vinson was a “no-name” baby when he was born at home Jan. 23, 1890, in the Kent County town of Lebanon. His birth certificate, filed two weeks after the fact, showed his parents had yet to settle on a first name. It wasn’t until March 1934 – 15 years after his son’s death – that James officially certified his son’s name with the Delaware Board of Health.

Read more: Lebanon soldier’s sacrifice recalled by VFW post

 

How "World War I: the Marne Miracle" happened 

By Dan Breckinridge Moore
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Marne Cover2C I was given a box of letters and pictures by my cousin containing letters my father wrote to her grandmother, (his sister) from France and Germany in 1918 and 1919. This included an amazing and rare article printed in the Virginian-Pilot and Norfolk Landmark Newspaper. The article was a reprint of one of these letters to his sister Nell recounting the incredible turn of events in the Second Battle of the Marne.

These letters rarely made it through the censors in France, much less get printed in a newspaper for public consumption. His bravery and fortitude helped to turn the tide of this penultimate battle of WWI.

James Edward Moore was really a wonderful father. Therefore, I wrote the "World War I: the Marne Miracle" in his honor.

What I learned about WWI while writing the book

Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Robert Lansing anticipated that the German government might annex Denmark, consequently the Germans could also take over the Danish West Indies as a naval or submarine base from where they could launch attacks on shipping in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. For $25 million the U.S. purchased the islands on March 31, 1917.

Queen Victoria had 40 grandchildren including King George V of Great Britain and their enemy, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

Great Britain bought optical lenses for bomb sights, binoculars, and sniper rifle sights from the German manufacturer Zeiss. Britain had no comparable lens sources available anywhere. Germans needed the money to conduct was against England and the Allies. The transfer was made through Switzerland, a neutral country.

Read more: How "World War I: the Marne Miracle" happened

 

Chapters Sprenger web 

Virtual Talk Nov. 6: The Making of Stars and Stripes Over the Rhine

By Erin Hart
Director of Communications and Development, Germanic-American Institute

The Germanic-American Institute (GAI) in St. Paul, MN presents a free virtual talk with historian Dr. Kai-Michael Sprenger on Friday, November 6, at 6:00 pm CST.

Dr .Kai Michael SprengerDr. Kai-Michael SprengerDr. Kai Sprenger is the leader of a project of the Institute for Regional History (IGL) at the University of Mainz researching the American occupation of the Rhineland following the end of the First World War. In cooperation with the government of Rhineland-Palatinate and the German Foreign Ministry's “Wunderbar Together” Program, the IGL has researched the long-term social and cultural impacts of this occupation on the region and on German-American relations.

The historical background of this relationship and of the post-World War I period have been all but forgotten among the people of both nations. The occupation began after the end of World War I and lasted until 1923, covering an area from Trier to Koblenz referred to as the American Zone of Occupation. These four years were politically and economically formative, and spurred a social and cultural exchange that introduced everything from jazz and baseball to donuts and Chinese cuisine.

Throughout the five years of occupation, many of the 250,000 American soldiers stationed in the Rhineland were forcibly quartered in the homes of private citizens, leading to the birth of several thousand "American children" - creating an entire generation with (often unknown) familial roots on both shores of the Atlantic. Dr. Sprenger and the IGL have curated a traveling exhibition, “Stars and Stripes Over the Rhine,” covering these and many other aspects of the American occupation, which has visited institutions and museums in both the U.S. and Germany.

GAI logo 200In addition, the IGL is engaged in an ongoing project to identify the descendants of many of these "Amerikanerkinder" and hopes to reconnect families who have been separated for close to a hundred years. Through its work, the IGL is uncovering and presenting this widely forgotten period in the shared historical experience of the U.S. and Germany, during which former enemies of war quickly grew to become close friends.

Registration and further information for Dr. Sprenger’s talk can be found here: https://gai-mn.org/Making-of-Stars-and-Stripes

External Web Site Notice: This page contains information directly presented from an external source. The terms and conditions of this page may not be the same as those of this website. Click here to read the full disclaimer notice for external web sites. Thank you.


 

 

107510653 oAt the very end of the war, American Corporal Lee Duncan picked up two dogs from a litter of German shepherds discovered in the rubble of a kennel near Saint-Mihiel where his unit fought. He named them Nénette and Rin Tin Tin, to evoke the little woolen puppets that the children of Lorraine offered to allied soldiers as a lucky charm. Nénette died during the return crossing to the United States, but Rin Tin Tin, arriving safe and sound on American soil, quickly demonstrated the exceptional abilities which led him straight to the movie sets of Hollywood (right).

Rin Tin Tin: The World War I True Story 

By By Kate Kelly
via the America Comes Alive! web site

Rin Tin Tin likely would have been a German war dog if the World War I battle near Saint-Mihiel had gone differently.

In September of 1918, the Allies broke through the German line in northeastern France. As the Germans evacuated the area, some men were sent out to scour the countryside to see what remained. Among the discoveries were a mother dog and her puppies, left behind in a damaged war dog station.

Lee Duncan, a soldier from Southern California, couldn’t bear to leave the dogs behind. With help from a buddy, he took them back to the base where his unit, the 135th Aero Squadron, was camped.

The rest is Hollywood history.

Lee Duncan’s Childhood

Lee Duncan (1893-1960) was born into a poor family in California. His father soon left them. In 1898, his mother placed Lee and his sister in an orphanage as she was unable to support them. (Orphanages were sometimes used by families for temporary placements at this time.) By 1900, Duncan’s mother moved in with her brother. She was able to take the children back, but Duncan’s family life was never a settled one.

As a young man, Duncan saw the call for the military as an opportunity. He became part of the U.S. Army Air Service, serving with the 135th Aero Squadron during World War I.

Read more: Rin Tin Tin: The World War I True Story

 

image1Paul LaRue, a former history teacher from Washington Court House, and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park rangers accept a preservation award from the Ohio History Connection for a collaborative effort to create a new lesson plan for students."  

Camp Sherman lesson plan wins preservation award 

By Paul LaRue,
Member of the Ohio World War I Centennial Committee

Standing amongst the mounds of the Mound City Earthworks at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park outside of Chillicothe, Ohio, you gain an appreciation of the important culture of Pre-Contact American Indians. The quiet serenity of the park today is in stark contrast with the bustling World War I cantonment that sat on the same ground from 1917 -1919. More than 120,000 soldiers passed through the 9700-acre cantonment known as Camp Sherman. Some of the camp's 2,000 buildings literally sat atop the sacred mounds.

The Ohio World War I Centennial Committee produced a series of lesson plans on various World War I topics, including Camp Sherman and the Mound City Earthworks.

The State Historic Preservation Office of Ohio recently announced its annual state historic preservation awards. The Camp Sherman and the Mound City Earthworks: A Unique Story of Preservation lesson plan was recipient of the Public Education and Awareness Award. The lesson plan was written by Ohio World War I Centennial Committee member Paul LaRue in collaboration with the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and the Ohio History Connection.

Camp Sherman was also featured in a second lesson plan developed by the Ohio World War I Centennial Committee, that focused on technology and an elite Black American World War I battalion. Thousands of Black American Soldiers trained at Camp Sherman between 1917 and Armistice. In October and November 1918, nearly 8,000, or 25%, of soldiers at Camp Sherman were Black Americans. In December 1917, the 325 Field Signal Battalion was organized at Camp Sherman. The 325 Field Signal Battalion was the only battalion of Black American soldiers to serve in the Army Field Signal Corps. The 325 Field Signal Battalion was considered to be one of best educated battalions of Black American Soldiers in the Army. This battalion served with in combat with distinction in France.

Read more: Camp Sherman lesson plan wins preservation award

 

New book on the WWI origins of American Propaganda and the Information State

via the Louisiana State University LSU Press

BATON ROUGE — John Maxwell Hamilton's highly acclaimed new book on the history of American propaganda is now available (released Oct. 21, 2020) at LSUPress.org. "Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda" tells the story of the enduring threat to American democracy that arose out of World War I: the establishment of pervasive, systematic propaganda as an instrument of the state.

manipulating the masses book coverAuthor John Maxwell Hamilton is a member of The Historical Advisory Board for the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission.

"An instant classic. This stunning history of the origins of American propaganda and the information state unveils the threat to self-government that’s been with us since World War I,” said Thomas Patterson, Harvard University’s Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press. “If you care about democracy, this book belongs at the top of your reading list."

During the Great War, the federal government exercised unprecedented power to shape the views and attitudes of American citizens. Its agent for this was the Committee on Public Information (CPI) established by President Woodrow Wilson one week after the United States entered the war in April 1917.

Driven by its fiery chief, George Creel, the CPI reached every crevice of the nation, every day, and extended widely abroad. It established the first national newspaper, made prepackaged news a quotidian aspect of governing and pioneered the concept of public diplomacy. It spread the Wilson administration’s messages through articles, cartoons, books and advertisements in newspapers and magazines; through feature films and volunteer Four Minute Men who spoke during intermission; through posters plastered on buildings and along highways; and through pamphlets distributed by the millions. It enlisted the nation’s leading progressive journalists, advertising executives, and artists. It harnessed American universities and their professors to create propaganda and add legitimacy to its mission.

Even as Creel insisted that the CPI was a conduit for reliable, fact-based information, the office regularly sanitized news, distorted facts and played on emotions. Creel extolled transparency but established front organizations. Overseas, the CPI secretly subsidized news organizations and bribed journalists. At home, it challenged the loyalty of those who occasionally questioned its tactics. Working closely with federal intelligence agencies eager to sniff out subversives and stifle dissent, the CPI was an accomplice to the Wilson administration’s trampling of civil liberties.

Read more: New book on the WWI origins of American propaganda and the Information State

 

military working dog 1280The Military Working Dog Tribute in at the Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, WI shows a soldier crouched beside his German Shepherd partner. Just as in the 21st Century, dogs played many important roles supporting America's soldiers on the battlefields of World War I.  (Photo via Pixabay.)

Six Incredible Roles Performed by Dogs in World War I 

By Ashley Lipman
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

America loves their pets, and according to ownership statistics, dogs are the favorite. More than 60 million American households own a dog, and this shows no signs of slowing down. People love to choose from good dog breeds and find the next member of their family.

However, dog’s aren’t always reserved for being a pet. They can be great guards, investigators and can play many other roles. In fact, back in World War 1, dogs had several roles that were instrumental in the success of various operations. Read on to learn about 6 of the roles that dogs performed in World War 1.

sergeant stubby wwi dogsRenowned WWI American canine hero Sergeant Stubby once saved multiple soldiers when he roused them from their sleep after a German mustard gas attack. (Via History.com.) 

Guard Dogs

While dogs today are often used as guard dogs, the same could be said around 100 years ago in World War 1. These sentry dogs would often sit alongside a soldier who was on guard, and could often alert him when trouble was near. Dogs have great senses in most cases, and these guard dogs were trained to bark or growl when a stranger approached the camp or post.

Read more: Six Incredible Roles Performed by Dogs in World War I

 

How WWI US Propaganda Grew Out of a Society of Illustrators 

By D.B. Dowd
via the hyperallergic.com web site

http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.18343Joseph Pennell, “That liberty shall not perish from the earth — Buy liberty bonds Fourth Liberty Loan” (1918), Pennell uses a simple two-color palette and the rhetorical device of hyperbole to capture what might result from a failure to defeat Germany: New York City enveloped in a firestorm, the Statue of Liberty in danger of collapse beneath aerial bombardment. The personification of Lady Liberty, embodied in Bartholdi’s statue (1886), tethered to Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, packs more punch than “Wake Up, America!”; Jodi and Louis Atkin Family Collection, D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, Washington University Libraries (photo by the Library of Congress).Until recently, serious thinking about propaganda had seemed like a subject at rest, tidily contained in reflections on the victory over fascism following World War Two. Since 2010, we have witnessed the worldwide resurgence of populism and white nationalism, especially in the United States. Toxic ideologies and rising authoritarianism are now widely understood as serious threats to liberal democracy. If the echoes of fascism have brought the 1930s and ‘40s troublingly to mind, it’s worth recalling that modern propaganda became a global enterprise during the First World War, rather than the second. For the US, that conflict was brief, lasting less than two years. But the ideological output was prodigious.

When the United States Congress declared war on the Imperial German government in April 1917, belatedly entering World War I at Woodrow Wilson’s urging, the nation was flat-footed, unready for conflict. In addition to a lack of military preparedness, a divided citizenry needed rousing to get on a war footing. A propaganda operation would have to be mustered. Soon that job fell to George Creel, a former Rocky Mountain News editor who assumed the chairmanship of the new Committee on Public Information, an independent government agency formed by President Wilson’s executive order on April 13. Over the next two years, the CPI — a de facto department of propaganda — would sprout many “divisions,” or areas of activity, but few would rival what became the poster shop: the Division of Pictorial Publicity.

Creel understood the propaganda role that posters could play, partly because combatant nations had been using them for years, since the outbreak of war in 1914. In the United States, Creel later wrote in How We Advertised America (published in 1920), “The poster must play a great role in the fight for public opinion. The printed word might not be read; people might choose not to attend meetings or to watch motion pictures, but the billboard was something that caught even the most indifferent eye.”

The roots of Great War visual propaganda sprouted in the last decades of the 19th century, specifically in refinements to large format chromolithography and the development of a spot color design aesthetic by fin-de-siècle French poster designers. By “spot color,” I mean the commercial design practice exploited by Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec of modern color assignations for communicative, rather than illusionist, purposes. An international “poster craze” followed the French example in Europe and America.

Another development contributed to emerging propaganda. During the 1890s, a new generation of American magazine publishers developed an alternative for the dusty old “family house” magazines which published literary and historical subjects. The new breed embraced current topics and sought popular appeal, crucially by lowering prices. Because cheaper issues would have to be underwritten by advertising revenue, magazines like Munsey’s and Cosmopolitan sold rafts of ads to new consumer product manufacturers. Advertisements quickly evolved into a fresh visual medium. In the process, magazine covers and full-page advertisements provided the space and money for illustrators and designers to create a new commercial science of word, image, and letterform. Working with editors, art directors, and ad clients, they honed their skills to stimulate, even implant, consumer desire for new products.

Read more: How WWI US Propaganda Grew Out of a Society of Illustrators

 

General Pershing MCU.max 1600x900"Major General John J. Pershing was chosen to lead the American Expeditionary Force (A. E. F.). He was more admired than liked... As it turned out, Black Jack Pershing’s qualities, skills, and traits made him an outstanding leader of the A.E.F." 

Remembering World War I 

By Ron Montonye - Pierce County Veterans Service Officer
via The Tribune newspaper (Pierce County, ND) web site

Oct 10, 2020 -- As I write this column, I am in the process of reading a book titled “Yanks – The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I.” It was written by John S.D. Eisenhower. As I read this book, it reminded me of many facts that I had either forgotten, or never learned, about World War I. I would like to share a few of these facts, and some thoughts of mine, with you.

World War I was fought from July 28, 1914 to Nov. 11, 1918. The formal state of war between the Allied Forces and Germany officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. Like World War II, the Germans fought the war on two fronts, the Eastern Front against Russia, and the Western Front against mainly Britain, France, and the United States. This global war, also known as the Great War, or “the war to end all wars,” was one of the deadliest conflicts in history. It led to the mobilization of more than 70 million military personnel, with an estimated nine million combatant deaths and 13 million civilian deaths. Of these numbers, the United States mobilized a force of 4,355,000 and suffered 322,000 casualties, including 116,000 killed.

Britain and France fought the Germans on the Western Front for over two years before the United States entered the war. The trench warfare tactics had resulted in very heavy losses and no major victories. They were desperate for the United States to join their efforts to defeat Germany. The use of automatic weapons, machine guns, tanks, early airplanes, and poisonous gases led to horrific casualty rates.

Having led a policy of isolationism during the first two years of the war, the United States military and manufacturing were little prepared for the massive build-up it would take to fight a war of this magnitude. The U.S. officially declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. So, our military involvement in World War I was actually only one-year and seven months.

Once the U.S. declared war, the massive build-up of troops and supplies was almost unbelievable. Major General John J. Pershing was chosen to lead the American Expeditionary Force (A. E. F.). He was more admired than liked. By nature he was strict in manner, attitude, and appearance, and his rigid insistence on military procedures earned him enemies. When he was assigned as a tactical officer at West Point, his obsession with stern discipline made him extremely unpopular with the cadets. Seizing on his previous assignment with the 10th Cavalry, a regiment of African American soldiers, cadets saddled him with the name “Black Jack.” This name stuck with Pershing throughout the rest of his career and long after its origin was forgotten. As it turned out, Black Jack Pershing’s qualities, skills, and traits made him an outstanding leader of the A.E.F.

Read more: Remembering World War I

 

 Military in Guam10172020 768x403Marines on Guam after the Cormoran incident. The men with them are laborers from German New Guinea who’d been working aboard the raider. Later they were returned to their homeland aboard a Japanese ship, Japan having been on the side of the Allies in World War I. (Guampedia photo)

Rock Springs, WY Man Fired First American Shot in World War 1 

via the SweetwaterNOW (WY) web site

SWEETWATER COUNTY — On Sunday morning, June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, setting off the Great War, later called World War I.

On one side were the Central Powers, which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire; on the other was the Allies – at that time Great Britain, France, and Russia, among others.

The United States would not enter the war on the side of the Allies for nearly three more years, and when it did, the first shot an American serviceman fired at an enemy in that colossal conflict was not in the trenches in France or on the battlefields of the eastern front, but in the harbor of a Pacific island over 6,000 miles from his birthplace.

The staff of the Sweetwater County Museum reported on Saturday that Corporal Michael Chockie, United States Marine Corps, the man who fired that shot, was a native of Rock Springs, Wyoming, the son of Austrian immigrants.

The German merchant raider Cormoran, armed with eight 4.1-inch guns, put into Apra Harbor, Guam, on December 14, 1914. Guam was American territory and the United States was still neutral. Nearly out of coal, the Cormoran and her crew were interned by American naval authorities and remained in Apra for the next two years.

Read more: Rock Springs Man Fired First American Shot in World War 1

 

The Political Legacy of World War I

By John E. Moser
via the Cato Unbound web site

n July 1918, Columbia University philosophy professor John Dewey offered an explanation for why so many Progressive intellectuals had embraced U.S. involvement in the First World War. True, the “immediate aim” of the war was a mere expression of “the will to conquer,” but to focus exclusively on this was to miss the exciting possibilities that the war offered to society. Throughout the world, the conflict has “made it customary to utilize the collective knowledge and skill of scientific experts in all lines, organizing them for community ends.” “In every warring country,” he continued, “there has been the same demand that in the time of great national stress production for profit be subordinated to production for use. Legal possession and individual property rights have had to give way before social requirements. The old conception of the absoluteness of private property has received the world over a blow from which it will never wholly recover.” Not only would the eventual defeat of German autocracy and militarism make the world “safe for democracy,” as Woodrow Wilson had put it in his April 1917 war address, but it would “initiate a new type of democracy,” in which “the supremacy of the public and social interest” would finally be established “over the private possessive interest.”[1]

unbound 10 20 0World War I was arguably the most important conflict of the twentieth century, bringing down four great empires and redrawing the map of Europe. The effect on the United States was quite different; it did not alter the country’s boundaries, or change its fundamental form of government, and the number of American men who lost their lives (126,000) paled in comparison to the figures from the European belligerents (2 million Germans, 1.4 million Frenchmen, nearly a million Britons). However, the war redefined the role of the federal government. While it did not quite lead to the democratic socialism that Dewey embraced, it redefined the relationship between Washington and its citizens, and set precedents to which subsequent presidents would repeatedly refer.

To say that the United States was unprepared for war in 1917 would be a serious understatement. The U.S. Army had well below 200,000 soldiers (by contrast, the Russian Army had nearly 6 million on the eve of war; the German Army had 4.5 million, while even Bulgaria fielded 280,000 men), and no arms industry capable of producing weapons heavier than rifles and pistols. While the reforms of the Progressive Era had marginally increased the power of the federal government, most authority still resided in the states, and the economy was almost entirely market-driven.

In order to assemble an army large enough to make a difference on the battlefields of Europe, the Wilson administration employed the power of the federal government on an unprecedented level. Even before the war the president had established a nonpartisan advisory committee—the Council for National Defense—made up of business and labor leaders to oversee the process of mobilization. When, in the first weeks of the war, calls for volunteers failed to meet army quotas, Wilson pushed through Congress a Selective Service Act that instituted mass conscription. To make sure that the new army—and the soldiers and civilians of Allied countries—would be properly fed, the president persuaded Congress to pass the Food and Fuel Control Act, which authorized the administration “to requisition foods, feeds, fuels, and other supplies necessary to the support of the Army…or any other public use connected with the common defense.” The bill created a Food Administration—headed by former mining engineer Herbert Hoover—that was empowered to fix prices and even control the amount of food consumed by American civilians; soon “wheatless” and “meatless” days became regular features of American life.

Read more: The Political Legacy of World War I

 

Cantigny churchAt Cantigny, in their first major battles of World War I, American Expeditionary Force troops helped blunt multiple offensives launched by the German Army in the spring of 1918.

 How America Entered WWI with a Bang

By Warfare History Network
via The National Interest web site

s the fateful day drew to a close, the exhausted soldiers of the German 25th and 82nd Reserve Divisions huddled in their trenches. It was May 30, 1918, and for the past two days the Germans had battled elements of the American 1st Division for control of the small village of Cantigny and its environs. Before them the virgin ground had been churned, the town shot up, and its cemetery turned into a ghoulish battlefield of broken headstones and protruding coffins.

While the Americans had given ground, they had not broken, and they had repulsed every assault the experienced Germans mounted. Over the course of the battle, the Americans had whittled the 82nd Reserve Division down to 2,500 effective personnel. The Battle of Cantigny, the first major assault of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front in World War I, proved that Americans “would both fight and stick,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee Bullard, commander of the 1st Division.

The drubbing had been delivered by the 28th Infantry, later reinforced by elements of the 18th Infantry. The Battle of Cantigny began at 4:45 am on May 28. After a 90-minute artillery barrage, the Yanks advanced with three battalions arrayed along a front of 11/2kilometers. Machinegun companies protected each flank. The Americans overran most German forward positions within the first 10 minutes, although the fighting in Cantigny itself came down to flamethrowers, hand grenades, and bayonets. By 8 am the Yanks were digging in, with the 2nd Battalion occupying Cantigny and the 3rd Battalion deployed to the south.

“The success of this phase of the operation was so complete, and the list of casualties so small, that everyone was enthusiastic and delighted,” wrote Colonel George Marshall, who planned the attack. “[However], trouble was coming thick and fast.”

That afternoon, the French withdrew their supporting artillery to deal with a new German offensive. At the same time, German 210mm guns pounded the American positions and tore up the communications wires carefully laid by the 28th Infantry’s engineers. The German counterattack began in the evening and continued into the next morning. The German commander in chief, General Erich Ludendorff, had ordered that the American positions around Cantigny be utterly destroyed for the same reason AEF commander General John J. Pershing ordered that it be held at all costs. “For the 1st Division to lose its first objective was unthinkable and would have had a most depressing effect on the morale of our entire Army, as well as those of our Allies,” wrote Marshall.

Read more: How America Entered WWI with a Bang

"Pershing" Donors

$5 Million +


Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo


Starr Foundation Logo


The Lilly Endowment