The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, a World War I Online Interactive, Released
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I ranks as one of America’s most significant battles in terms of men and equipment engaged, the numbers of dead and wounded, and the strategic consequences. More than 1.2 million Americans took part in this 47 day offensive. Of these, more than 26,000 lost their lives. The scale and results of this offensive underscored America’s emerging role on the world stage, and helped bring an end to the war.
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Britain and France recommended that American soldiers fight as replacements, or as tactical level units serving under Allied command. Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, reflected the views of his government in insisting that U.S. forces would fight as an independent army. They would serve alongside the Allies, but in a sector of their own. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive fulfilled this vision, committing the U.S. First Army to a battle of unprecedented scale, duration and intensity in American history.
On September 26, 1918 nine American divisions began the first assault along a twenty-four mile front from the Argonne Forest to the Meuse River—about 150 miles east of Paris. The objective was to cut vital German rail communications running through Mezieres and Sedan, and to serve as one of two Allied pincers converging on the Germans in Belgium and Northern France. The intense fighting caused heavy losses on both sides, but American forces had penetrated the formidable defenses of the “Hindenburg Line” by October 11. The U.S. First Army renewed its assault several times after much-needed pauses for rest, reorganization and replacement. Fresh divisions relieved those that had suffered the most grievous combat losses. A final push began on November 1. German forces began withdrawing across the entire front. Recognizing that they could no longer prevent defeat, the Germans signed an Armistice effective at 11:00 a.m. on November 11. Fighting continued until the final minute, with Americans losing their lives up until that point.
To further tell this story, the American Battle Monuments Commission has released the Meuse-Argonne Offensive Interactive. This free, digital tool allows the user to follow the paths of American forces as they fought this massive campaign.
Including dynamic maps showing the locations of units over time, narrative text, and an encyclopedia of people, places, organizations and equipment involved, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive Interactive provides comprehensive insight into this critical World War I offensive.
Members of the American armed forces who lost their live in this offensive are honored at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive Interactive is one of 12 online interactives thus far developed by ABMC:
- Use the World War I Timeline
- Learn about the WWI Ypres-Lys Campaign
- Use the World War II Timeline
- Learn about the World War II Battle of the Atlantic
- Learn about the World War II Strategic Bombing Campaign
- Learn about Americans in Great Britain during World War II
- Learn about the World War II Normandy Campaign
- Learn about the World War II Battle of Pointe du Hoc
- Learn about the World War II Sicilian Campaign
- Learn about Entering Italy: The Naples-Foggia Campaign during World War II
- Learn about Liberating Rome: The Rome-Arno Campaign during World War II
Established in 1923 by Congress, ABMC is a U.S. government agency charged with commemorating the service, achievements and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces where they have served overseas since 1917. ABMC administers our nation’s commemorative cemeteries and federal memorials overseas. For more information visit www.abmc.gov, or connect with us on Facebook, Youtube or Instagram.