World War I Poster

Photo above: World War 1 Poster, 1917, James Montgomery Flagg. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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

    World War I


    January 11, 1917 - The Zimmermann Telegram
    Troops: USA 0; Mexico 0.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 0; Mexico 0, Germany 0.
    German foreign minister Arthur Zimmermann sends telegram to Mexico, urging them to attack the United States if the U.S. entered the war against Germany in exchange for cooperation, if victorious, in recovering southwest states Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Mexico considers idea, then decides it can not win. Although no battle was fought, the telegram prompts further action by the United States toward entering World War I.

    February 1, 1917 - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
    Troops: USA 0; Germany 0.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 0; Germany 0.
    Germany reverses policy not to attack passenger or merchant vessels, including U.S. vessels, announcing its unrestricted submarine warfare policy for the rest of the war. Two days later, the U.S. cut diplomatic ties with Germany. Two ships were sunk during the month. Five merchant ships would be sunk in March.

    February 19, 1917 - Zimmermann Telegram Released to USA
    Troops: USA 0; Germany 0.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 0; Germany 0.
    British uncover, decipher, and release telegram to U.S. officials. On March 3, German official Arthur Zimmermann admits that it was true.

    April 6, 1917 - Congress declares War on Germany
    Troops: USA 0; Germany 0.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 0; Germany 0.
    Four days after President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to wage war against Germany, the Senate voted 82-6 and the House of Representatives 373-50 to declare war against Germany. It did not include a Declaration of War against Austria-Hungary.

    April 9 to May 16, 1917 - Battle of Arras (France)
    Troops: British Empire 23 divisions; Germany 17 divisions.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): British Empire 158,660; Germany 120,000-130,000.
    First battle of World War I after United States entered and prepared to assist, Great Britain begins offensive on Western Front with initial success, but eventual failure to break through Germany's line.

    April 22 to May 8, 1917 - Battle of Doiran (Serbia)
    Troops: British Empire 43,000; Bulgaria 30,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): British Empire 12,000; Bulgaria 2,000.
    British continue plan to break through the Bulgarian forces in the Balkans, but defensive positions were too strong and result in a Bulgarian victory.

    May 10 to June 8, 1917 - Tenth Battle of Isonzo (Slovenia)
    Troops: Italy (Allies) 400,000; Austria-Hungary 200,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Italy 150,000 (35,000 killed); Austria-Hungary 75,000 (17,000 killed).
    Italians push a tenth fight after nine largely unsuccessful attempts on the Eastern Front against a weaker Austria-Hungary force, fearing subsequent German involvement. Italians advance, but are pushed back to minimal gains.

    June 7-14, 1917 - Battle of Messines (Belgium)
    Troops: British Empire 216,000; Germany 126,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): British Empire 24,562; Germany 25,000, including 7,200 prisoners.
    British advance with prelude of mine explosion creating nineteen craters in the German lines lead to capture of the ridge and British victory. German reinforcements from France helped relieve pressure on French Western Front.

    July 31 to November 10, 1917 - Third Battle of Ypres (Belgium)
    Troops: British Empire, France, and Belgium 56 divisions; Germany 77-83 divisions.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): British (Allies) 200,000-448,615; Germany 217,000-410,000, including 24,065 prisoners.
    Continued campaign after Messines to take the ridges near Ypres end with Germany diverting attention from its French line, but keeping control of the submarine bases. Large number of casualties on both sides, which the German Empire could not afford.

    August 18 to September 12, 1917 - Eleventh Battle of Isonzo (Slovenia)
    Troops: Italy (Allies) 600 battalions; Austria-Hungary and Germany 250 battalions.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Italy (Allies) 148,000; Austria-Hungary/Germany 105,000, including 20,000 prisoners.
    Italians cross the river and gain control of several strongpoints, but not their final objectives. Both sides eventually succumb to an inconclusive battle with many casualties.

    October 24 to November 19, 1917 - Twelfth Battle of Isonzo, Battle of Caporetto (Slovenia)
    Troops: Italy (Allies) 874,000; Austria-Hungary and Germany 350,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Italy (Allies) 655,000, including 265,000 captured; Austria-Hungary/Germany 70,000.
    German reinforcements using effective stormtrooper tactics and poison gas rout the Italian Army. Considered the worst defeat in Italian military history.

    November 20 to December 7, 1917 - Battle of Cambrai (France)
    Troops: British, France, United States 2 corps; Germany 1 corps.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 44,000; Germany 45,000.
    First action by United States troops on November 30 part of British offensive, including an effective use of tanks against Germany supply port and rear of German line, German counteroffensive ends with negligible gains by both sides. Three regiments of engineer units from the U.S.A. Army supported the British Third Army and were the first United States forces engaged in the war. They suffered seventy-seven casualties.

    December 7, 1917 - Congress declares War on Austria-Hungary
    Troops: USA 0; Austria-Hungary 0.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 0; Austria-Hungary 0.
    Responding to the use of unrestricted submarine warfare, the cutting of diplomatic ties, and the Austria-Hungary alliance with Germany, the Senate voted 74-0 and the House of Representatives 365-1 to declare war on the Austria-Hungarian Empire.

    Most of 1917 after the United States Declaration of War against Germany was spent building the Army and Navy, which had been kept at minimual proportions, smaller than most of the nations already involved in World War I. By the end of 1917, the Selective Service Act had drafted two million eight hundred thousand men. They would begin arriving in Europe at the pace of ten thousand per day, replenishing the losses already encountered by the Allies.

    Note: Photo above: United States Field Artillery assisting the 29th Infantry Division in France during World War I, 1917/1918. Photo by Signal Corps courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources; article, "American military operations and casualties in 1917-18," George Thompson, M.A., M.F.A., Adjunct Associate Professor, History, University of Kansas. Divisions during World War I and II consisted of 10,000 to 30,000 men.

    1st World War 1918

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