We’ve forgotten 26,000 dead American soldiers
Professor Edward Lengel reclaims a heroic battle that determined history’s course.Posted June 25, 2008, 3:59 PM EST
Photo by Jack Looney
“So far as the American public is concerned,” writes University of Virginia historian Edward G. Lengel, “the Meuse-Argonne might as well never have occurred.”
Imagine an undulating valley, about 20 miles wide, sliced with ravines and bordered by two rivers, the Aire to the west, with the Argonne Forest rising beyond, and the Meuse to the east, with the Meuse Heights above it.
Then imagine nine divisions—composed of regular Army soldiers, draftees and National Guardsmen—lined abreast, facing north within that confined space and told to attack German Imperial Army forces that had spent four years digging in, holding off the French, well supported by artillery and aircraft and protected in reinforced shelters, trenches and machine-gun nests.
The Americans commenced the fight in the early hours of Sept. 26, 1918, drove the Germans back roughly 40 miles and didn’t quit until Armistice Day on Nov. 11.
Read the story in the Roanoke Times.
To read Professor Lengel’s Washington Post Memorial Day essay on the vacuum of World War I in America’s memory, click here.