TimelineMaps

Follow us through the World War I centennial on Follow wwitoday on Twitter

St. Mihiel Offensive

Detail of the Victory Monument commemorating the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, an African-American unit that served in France reorganized as the 370th U.S. Infantry Regiment of the 93rd Division. The bronze sculpture is by Leonard Crunelle and was erected in 1927.
The regiment saw action at St. Mihiel, the Argonne Forest, Mont des Singes, and in the Oise-Aisne Offensive. The monument lists the names of the 137 soldiers of the regiment who lost their lives in the war.

Detail of the Victory Monument commemorating the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, an African-American unit that served in France reorganized as the 370th U.S. Infantry Regiment of the 93rd Division. The bronze sculpture is by Leonard Crunelle and was erected in 1927.
The regiment saw action at St. Mihiel, the Argonne Forest, Mont des Singes, and in the Oise-Aisne Offensive. The monument lists the names of the 137 soldiers of the regiment who lost their lives in the war. © 2013, John M. Shea

Image text

Other views: Front

Meeting on July 24, 1918 with the Franco-American Aisne-Marne Offensive underway, Foch, Pétain, Haig, and Pershing agreed the Allies wouldn't be ready for a general offensive until September, but that local offensives would continue. Foch aimed to free three strategic rail lines: from Paris to Verdun, Amiens, and Nancy. The Americans in the St. Mihiel sector were to secure the Paris-Nancy line by taking the German-held St. Mihiel salient southeast of Verdun.

Pershing insisted on a separate United States Army, but had reluctantly allowed units to serve as reinforcements in French and British forces under the desperate conditions of the German spring offensives of 1918. At the July meeting, Foch agreed to Pershing's plan for an American offensive at St. Mihiel. On August 10, the United States First Army was activated, taking over the St. Mihiel sector twenty days later. Between two French armies, supported by French, and French colonial troops, the First Army faced two German armies. Like much of the front from Verdun to the Swiss border, the salient was relatively quiet.

Pershing's plan would have put the Americans on the border of, if not in, Germany. British commander Douglas Haig objected to the Americans being first into Germany, and persuaded Foch to change the American plan. A compromise expanded the American sector to the northwest with responsibility for the front from the Moselle to the Argonne Forest. It also limited Pershing to reducing the St. Mihiel salient, then attacking in the Argonne Forest as the French attacked to its west.

To shorten his line and limit his exposure, Ludendorff ordered the evacuation of the St. Mihiel salient on September 8, and had begun removing artillery by the time the American offensive began on September 12. After a four-hour bombardment, supported by approximately 600 planes, the Americans attacked on b

1918-09-12

1918-09-16