World War I - United States Involvement
For the first three years of World War I, the United States tried to remain neutral and broker peace. That was the goal of President Woodrow Wilson. The U.S.A. remained neutral through the second year of the war, 1915, even after one hundred and twenty-eight Americans died during the German attack on the passenger ship Lusitania. The public was divided on the United States joining the fight, but eventually after provocations in 1916, Wilson decided to actively join the war, sending troops to Europe during 1917 and 1918.
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- Battle Timeline
World War 1 Major Battles and U.S.A. Incidents
March 21 to April 5, 1918 - Operation Michael (France)
Troops: British Empire/France/USA 52 divisions; Germany 72 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): British Empire/France/USA 254,816; Germany 239,800.
German offensive from Hindenberg line in Northern France pushing northwest toward Channel ports, then west to split the British and French forces. Germany advance halted at Amiens unable to supply forces, and subsequent additions of United States troops marked a turning point in the war against the German Empire.
April 7-29, 1918 - Battle of the Lys, Operation Georgette (Belgium/France)
Troops: British Empire/France/Portugal/Belgium/USA NA; Germany 35 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 120,000; Germany 120,000.
Smaller spring offensive by German Empire with same objective as Operation Michael in area of Flanders and Ypres. French reinforcements toward end of campaign forced Germany to halt the offensive.
May 27 to June 6, 1918 - Third Battle of the Aisne (France)
Troops: British Empire/France/USA French 6th Army, 4 British divisions, 2 USA divisions; Germany 20 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 127,000; Germany 130,000.
Battle in the German spring offensive with objective to capture the Chemin des Dames ridge outside Paris before the American Expeditionary force arrived in full. Suprise attack to be used as diversionary tactic, pulling troops from Flanders, comes within thirty-five miles of Paris, but is halted due to lack of supplies and men.
May 27-31, 1918 - Battle of Cantigny (France)
Troops: USA/France 26,500; Germany NA.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/France 1,603; Germany 250 captured.
First offensive launched by American troops, using the 1st Division, one of the five then in France, capture city of Cantigny. Battle, although small, proved the value of the American toops to their French counterparts. At time of battle, the American Expeditionary Force had 406,844 troops in Europe.
June 1-26, 1918 - Battle of Belleau Wood (France)
Troops: USA/France/British Empire; Germany 5 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 9,777; Germany NA, 1,600 captured.
Battle near the Marne River, including the U.S. Marine Corps, who's tenacity led to an Allied victory. Famous for first use of the term during one French retreat, "Retreat, Hell, we just got here."
June 15-23, 1918 - Battle of the Piave River (Italy)
Troops: Italy/France/Great Britain 69 divisions; Austria-Hungary 57 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 43,000; Austria-Hungary 92,495, plus 25,547 captured.
New offensive for Austria-Hungary ends in decisive victory for Italian and Allied Army. Battle leads to eventual effective end of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
July 4, 1918 - Battle of Hamel (France)
Troops: British Empire/USA 7,000; Germany 5,600.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 1,400; Germany 2,000, plus 1,600 prisoners.
Australian forces lead USA troops against German positions in French city of Le Hamel in ninety minute victory.
July 15 to August 6, 1918 - Second Battle of the Marne (France)
Troops: France/USA/Italy/British Empire/Siam 58 divisions; Germany 52 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 132,717; Germany 139,000, plus 29,367 prisoners.
Last major offensive by Germany in World War I fails when French and American forces overwhelm their opponent, resulting in a shortening of the German line by twenty-eight miles.
July 21, 1918 - Attack on Orleans (USA)
Troops: USA 5 ships, 5 seaplanes; Germany 1 submarine.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 5 ships; Germany 0.
German raid against tugboat and barges near Massachusetts town of Orleans by submarine U-156 become only engagement on United States soil in World War I. No casualties. U-boat attacked by seaplanes, but got away.
August 8-12, 1918 - Battle of Amiens (France)
Troops: British Empire/France/USA 32 divisions; Germany 14 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 44,000; Germany 75,000.
First action of the Allies Hundred Days Offensive leads to decisive victory with large number of German prisoners taken. Surprise attack, use of armoured tanks, and the cutting of German communication lines signaled beginning of the end for the German fighting force.
September 12-15, 1918 - Battle of St. Mihiels (France)
Troops: USA/France 550,000; Germany 50,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/France 7,000; Germany 22,500.
Major offensive by General Pershing against German positions at the salient leading to Metz catches German troops in retreat, although they are able to refortify positions and prevent Metz capture. Use of U.S. Air Force a significant reason for success and Allied victory.
September 26 to November 11, 1918 - Battle of Argonne Forest (France)
Troops: USA/France/Siam 1,200,000; Germany/Austria-Hungary 450,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 192,000; Germany/Austria-Hungary 126,000.
Forty-seven day battle until the end of the war part of One Days Offensive. Over one million United States troops take significant casualties in battle along the entire Western Front, eventually clear the Forest on October 31 and pressure the Germans toward Armistace.
September 29 to October 10, 1918 - Battle of St. Quentin Canal (France)
Troops: British Empire/USA 14 divisions; Germany 13 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies NA; Germany NA.
First full breach of Hindenberg line cements thought in Germany leaders that war could not be won.
October 8-10, 1918 - Second Battle of Cambrai (France)
Troops: British Empire 25 divisions; Germany 180,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 12,000; Germany 10,000.
Significant tank battle leads to capture of city of Cambrai.
October 24 to November 3, 1918 - Battle of Vittorio Veneto (Italy)
Troops: British Empire/France/Czech/USA 57 divisions; Austria-Hungary 61 divisions.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 37,461; Austria-Hungary 135,000 plus 300,000 captured.
Italian and Allied victory on the western front starts chaotic retreat and eventual capture of Austrian towns. By October 31, Austria had ended their partnership with Hungary and the Austria-Hungarian Empire was over.
On November 11, Germany signed the Amistice of Compiegne, ending fighting at 11:00 a.m. Paris time. It signalled an Allied victory and German defeat, although not technically termed a surrender. Other Central Powers had been surrendering prior to that date: Bulgaria on September 29; the Ottoman Empire on October 30; Austria and Hungary on November 3. Six months later, the Treaty of Versailles ended the war and signalled peace. Seventeen million people died, military and civilian, during World War I, including 117,465 Americans. An additional 204,002 Americans were wounded.
Text of Amistice of November 11, 1918
TERMS OF ARMISTICE SIGNED BY GERMANY
TERMS OF ARMISTICE WITH GERMANY, NOVEMBER 11, 1918. Between Marshal Foch, commander in chief of the allied armies, acting in the name of the allied and associated powers, with Admiral Wemyss, first sea lord, on the one hand, and Herr Erzberger, secretary of state, president of the German delegation, Count von Oberudorff, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, Maj. Gen. von Winterfeldt, Capt. Vanselow (German navy) , duly empowered and acting with the concurrence of the German chancellor, on the other hand. An armistice has been concluded on the following conditions:
Conditions of the Armistice Concluded With Germany
I. Military Clauses on Western Front.
One. Cessation of operations by land and in the air six hours after the signature of the armistice.
Two. Immediate evacuation of invaded countries: Belgium, France, Alsace Lorraine, Luxemburg, so ordered as to be completed within fourteen days from the signature of the armistice. German troops which have not left the above mentioned territories within the period fixed will become prisoners of war. Occupation by the Allied and United States forces jointly will keep pace with evacuation in these areas. All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated in accordance with a note annexed to the stated terms.
Three. Repatriation beginning at once and to be completed within fourteen days of all inhabitants of the countries above mentioned, including hostages and persons under trial or convicted.
Four. Surrender in good condition by the German armies of the following equipment: five thousand guns (two thousand .five hun- dred heavy, two thousand five hundred field), thirty thousand machine guns. Three thousand minenwerfer. Two thousand aero- planes (fighters, bombers - firstly D. Seventy three's and night bombing machines). The above to be delivered in Simmstu to the Allies and United States troops in accordance with the detailed conditions laid down in the annex -d note.
Five. Evacuation by the German armies of the countries on the left bank of the Rhine. These countries on the left bank of the Rhine shall be administered by the local authorities under the control of the Allied and United States armies of occupation. The occupation of these territories "will be determined by Allied and United States garrisons holding the principal crossings of the Rhine, Mayence, Coblenz, Cologne, together with bridgeheaxls at these points in thirty kilometer radius on the right bank and by garrisons similarly holding the strategetic points of the regions. A neutral zone shall be reserved on the right of the Rhine between the stream and a line drawn parallel to it forty kilometers to the east from the frontier of Holland to the parallel of Gernsheim and as far as practicable a distance of thirty kilometers from the east of stream from this parallel upon Swiss frontier. Evacuation by the enemy of the Rhine lands shall be so ordered as to be completed within a further period of eleven days, in all nineteen days after the signature of the armistice. All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated according to the note annexed.
Six. In all territory evacuated by the enemy there shall be no evacuation of inhabitants; no damage or harm shall be done to the persons or property of the inhabitants. No destruction of any kind to be committed. Military establishments of all kinds shall be delivered intact as well as military stores of food, munitions, equipment not removed during the periods fixed for evacuation. Stores of food of all kinds for the civil population, cattle, etc., shall be left in situ. Industrial establishments shall not be impaired in any way and their personnel shall not be moved. Roads and means of communication of every kind, railroad, waterways, main roads, bridges, telegraphs, telephones, shall be in no manner impaired.
Seven. All civil and military personnel at present employed on them shall remain. Five thousand locomotives, fifty thousand wagons and ten thousand motor lorries in good working order with all necessary spare parts and fittings shall be delivered to the Associated Powers within the period fixed for the evacuation of Belgium and Luxemburg. The railways of Alsace Lorraine shall be handed over within the same period, together with all pre-war personnel and material. Further material necessary for the working of railways in the country on the left bank of the Rhine shall be left in situ. All stores of coal and material for the up-keep of permanent ways, signals and repair shops left entire in situ and kept in an efficient state by Germany during the whole period of armistice. All barges taken from the Allies shall be restored to them. A note appended regulates the details of these measures.
Eight. The German command shall be responsible for revealing all mines or delay acting fuses disposed on territory evacuated by the German troops and shall assist in their discovery and destruction. The German command shall also reveal all destructive measures that may have been taken (such as poisoning or polluting of springs, wells, etc.) under penalty of reprisals.
Nine. The right of requisition shall be exercised by the Allied and the United States, armies in all occupied territory. The up-keep of the troops of occupation in the Rhine land (excluding Alsace-Lorraine) shall be charged to the German Government.
Ten. An immediate repatriation without reciprocity according to detailed conditions which shall be fixed, of all Allied and United States prisoners of war. The Allied Powers and the United States shall be able to dispose of these prisoners as they wish.
Eleven. Sick and wounded who cannot be removed from evacuated territory will be cared for by German personnel who will be left on the spot with the medical material required.
II. Disposition Relative to the Eastern Frontiers of Germany.
Twelve. All German troops at present in any territory which be- fore the war belonged to Russia, Roumania or Turkey shall withdraw within the frontiers of Germany as they existed on August first, 1914.
Thirteen. Evacuation by German troops to begin at once and all German instructors, prisoners, and civilian as well as military agents, now on the territory of Russia (as defined before 1914) to be recalled.
Fourteen. German troops to cease at once all requisitions and seizures and any other undertaking with a view to obtaining supplies intended for Germany in Roumania and Russia (as defined on August first 1914.)
Fifteen. Abandonment of the treaties of Bucharest and Brest- Litovsk and of the supplementary treaties.
Sixteen. The Allies shall have free access to the territories evacuated by the Germans on their eastern frontier either through Danzig or by the Vistula in order to convey supplies to the populations of those territories or for any other purpose.
III. Clause Concerning East Africa.
Seventeen. Unconditional capitulation of all German forces oper- ating in East Africa within one month.
IV. General Clauses.
Eighteen. Repatriation, without reciprocity, within a maximum period of one month, in accordance with detailed conditions hereafter to be fixed, of all civilians interned or deported who may be citizens of other Allied or Associated States than those mentioned in clause three, paragraph nineteen, with the reservation that any future claims and demands of the Allies and the United States of America remain unaffected.
Nineteen. The following financial conditions are required: Reparation for damage done. While such armistice lasts no public securities shall be removed by the enemy which can serve as a pledge to the Allies for the recovery or repatriation for war losses. Immediate restitution of the cash deposit, in the National Bank of Belgium, and in general immediate return of all documents, specie, stocks, shares, paper money together with plant for the issue thereof, touching public or private interests in the invaded countries. Restitution of the Rus- sian and Roumanian gold yielded to Germany or taken by that power. This gold to be delivered in trust to the Allies until the signature of peace.
V. Naval Conditions.
Twenty. Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and definite information to be given as to the location and movements of all German ships. Notification to be given to neutrals that freedom of navigation in all territorial waters is given to the naval and mercantile marines of the Allied and Associated Powers, all questions of neutrality being waived.
Twenty one. All naval and mercantile marine prisoners of war of the Allied and Associated Powers in German hands to be returned without reciprocity.
Twenty two. Surrender to the Allies and the United States of America of one hundred and sixty German submarines (including all submarine cruisers and mine laying submarines) with their complete armament and equipment in ports which will be specified by the Allies and the United States of America. All other submarines to be paid off and completely disarmed and placed under the supervision of the Allied Powers and the United States of America.
Twenty three. The following German surface warships which shall be designated by the Allies and the United States of America shall forthwith be disarmed and thereafter interned in neutral ports, or. for the want of them, in Allied ports, to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America and placed under the surveillance of the Allies and the United States of America, only caretakers being left on board, namely : Six battle cruisers, ten battleships, eight light cruisers, including two mine layers, fifty destroyers of the most modern type. All other surface warships (including river craft) are to be concentrated in German naval bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, and are to be paid oft' and completely disarmed and placed under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America. All vessels of the auxiliary fleet (trawlers, motor vessels, etc.) are to be disarmed.
Twenty four. The Allies and the United States of America shall have the right to sweep up all mine fields and obstructions laid by Germany outside German territorial waters, and the positions of these are to be indicated.
Twenty five. Freedom of access to and from the Baltic to be given to the naval and mercantile marines of the Allied and Associated Powers. To secure this the Allies and the United States of America shall be empowered to occupy all German forts, fortifications, batteries and defense works of all kinds in all the entrances from the Categat into the Baltic, and to sweep up all mines and obstructions within and without German territorial waters without any question of neutrality being raised, and the positions of all such mines and obstructions are to be indicated.
Twenty six. The existing blockade conditions set up by the Allies and Associated Powers are to remain unchanged and all German merchant ships found at sea are to remain liable to capture.
Twenty seven. All naval aircraft are to be concentrated and im- mobilized in German bases to be specified by the Allies and the United States of America.
Twenty eight. In evacuating the Belgian coasts and ports, Ger- many shall abandon all merchant ships, tugs, lighters, cranes and all other harbor materials, all materials for inland navigation, all aircraft and all materials and stores, all arms and armaments, and all stores and apparatus of all kinds.
Twenty nine. All Black Sea ports are to be evacuated by Germany ; all Russian war vessels of all descriptions seized by Germany in the Black Sea are to be handed over to the Allies and the United States of America; all neutral merchant vessels seized are to be released; all warlike and other materials of all kinds seized in those ports are to be returned and German materials as specified in clause twenty eight are to be abandoned.
Thirty. All merchant vessels in German hands belonging to the Allied and Associated Powers are to be restored in ports to be specified by the Allies and the United States of America without reciprociter.
Thirty one. No destruction of ships or of materials to be permitted before evacuation, surrender or restoration.
Thirty two. The German Government shall formally notify the neutral Governments of the world, and particularly the Governments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Holland, that all restrictions placed on the trading of their vessels with the Allied and Associated Countries, whether by the German Government or by private German interests, and whether in return for specific concessions such as the export of shipbuilding materials or not, are immediately canceled.
Thirty three. No transfers of German merchant shipping of any description to any neutral flag are to take place after signature of the armistice.
VI. Duration of Armistice.
Thirty four. The duration of the armistice is to be thirty days, with option to extend. During this period, on failure of execution of any of the above clauses, the armistice may be denounced by one of the contracting parties, on forty eight hours previous notice.
VII. Time Limit for Reply.
Thirty five. This armistice to be accepted or refused by Germany within seventy two hours of notification.
Note: Photo above: Guards at American Bridgehead Boundary, Rhine, 1920. Photo by Keystone View Company, courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources. Armistice terms from the speech of Woodrow Wilson to Congress/Library of Congress. Divisions during World War I and II consisted of 10,000 to 30,000 men.