Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iii

Table of Contents

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pp. iv-v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi-viii

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Acknowledgments

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p. ix

First and foremost, my thanks to editor Ronald Chrisman of the University of North Texas Press for his support and encouragement throughout this project. Thanks are also due to World War I historian Mitchell Yockelson, who offered valuable suggestions and directed me to the records of the 39th Infantry in the National Archives....

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Introduction

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pp. 1-30

In October 1946, World War I combat veteran Gerald Howell submitted a manuscript entitled “Yesterday There Was Glory: Adventures & War Exploits of the First U.S. Troops on the Rhine, 1918” to the Barthold Fles Literary Agency in New York City to be considered for their “Rewrite Magazine Prize Book Award.” Howell described his work as “an historical record that will become more valuable as the years pass by,” of interest to the “general reader of history, biography, etc., written in a popular vein” and not “a dry...

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Chapter 1: A Doughboy Speaks

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pp. 31-40

Now that most of the generals and pseudo captains have written their memoirs telling us how they won the war by making themselves comfortable in ancient chateaus, attending dinner parties, riding back and forth to Paris and Chaumont in high priced limousines, playing polo, inspecting recruits and ordering out military bands to salute them whenever they appeared in public and otherwise catering to their egos, but never mentioning their mistakes, I think now is the opportune time to take up the...

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Chapter 2: Soldiers a La Carte

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pp. 41-53

I used to think I hated the army, and army life. Who didn’t? But in looking back over the years, I am proud to have been a soldier in wartime. It was exciting, even with its hardships. The United States may seemingly become economically and political unbalanced at times, but I would much rather live in its city canyons or peaceful valleys than own all the old chateaus and cathedrals, or gambol in all the flesh pots of Europe and the old world. Even the most crabby old soldier will tell you that the U.S. and our way of...

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Chapter 3: En Voyage

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pp. 54-59

Bright and early on the morning of May 10th, we left Camp Mills behind, with its white squad tents carefully ordered inside and out, for the next contingent who would come to occupy them. A troop train took us to Long Island City where we boarded a ferryboat, proceeded across the New York waterfront, past the Battery, under Brooklyn Bridge, etc., landing at Jersey City, N.J. sometime around noon. Arriving here we stalled around and waited for an interminable time so it seemed, on the wharf opposite...

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Chapter 4: Arrival in France and Movements

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pp. 60-68

The Dante Alighieri had crept slowly along in the harbor and sometime during the night of May 24th, we anchored directly alongside the ancient quays of Brest, France. Disembarkation began about 10.30 a.m. It was a strange, even a pleasant sensation, as we stepped off the gangplank and on to foreign soil, the first time for most of us. No doubt, but that it was also the first time, that many of the boys had ever been outside of Podunk, U.S.A. After landing, we waited around for hours so it seemed, then...

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Chapter 5: Behind the Front

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pp. 69-83

It was on the night of June twelfth, that we detrained at the town of Meaux. No one seemed to know we were coming and the officers didn’t know where we were supposed to go. So we stood around and waited, and kept on waiting. Some of the men lay down alongside the road and went to sleep. Others stood around and crabbed about the fine army we were in. Finally, a motorcycle dispatch rider drove in from somewhere with orders for our company commander, Lieutenant Holstlaw. The order said, that we were to...

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Chapter 6: Aisne-Marne Defensive (July 16th to 24th 1918) Second Battle of the Marne

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pp. 84-103

While my battalion was located at Mareuil-sur-ourcq, or about July 16th, the Fourth Division, less artillery, had been assigned or brigaded with the French 33rd Division at La Ferté-sous-jouarre and divisional headquarters was moved there. The majority of the division with General Cameron as commander, went into trenches in the hills above Crouettes and were a part of General DeGoutte’s 6th French Army, IXth Corps, under General Dimitry.2...

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Chapter 7: What Happened in Fère-En-Tardenois Wood

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pp. 104-109

Leaving Beuvardes and traveling east, August 1st found us moving up through Fère-en-Tardenois Wood (Fôret de Fère) located near the town of the same name. The 42d, Rainbow Division was then in line near Sergy and Coulonges (aisne). On July 28th to 30th, the 42d, assisted by the 47th Infantry, 4th Divis[ion], had advanced through the Bois Colas, over Hills 184 and 212 and taken Sergy and Seringes-et-Nesles. Two old regiments of National Guard, the 167th Alabama and 168th Iowa, who had opposed each...

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Chapter 8: Aisne Marne Offensive (July 26th to August 15th, 1918) Battle of Vesle River-Soissons

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pp. 110-124

The strategic German positions on the Marne and the Ourcq were now lost to them. The remainder of their divisions therefore, had stampeded north, back to the heights of the Vesle River about fifteen kilometers away, to establish another line of resistance to try and hold back the ever pressing advance of the intrepid Americans and French.
We also, now leave the fateful Fère-en-Tardenois woods and proceed to the Vesle River sector through small sections of woods,...

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Chapter 9: Formation of the First American Army

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pp. 125-141

On August 18th, we arrive at Château Thierry after our long hike from the Chemin-des-Dames and the Vesle River sector. This famous town is located on the Marne River and the Paris-Soissons road about two hours from Paris.1 On our arrival we find it occupied by Pioneer Infantry (work battalions) who are engaged in cleaning up the debris of the town and salvaging war materials, both German and American.
Having entered the town from the northeast, we now slowly...

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Chapter 10: St. Mihiel Offensive (Sep’t 12th to 26th 1918)

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pp. 142-158

About Sep’t 10th, 1918, we of the 1st Battalion 39th Infantry are located in a series of small wooden barracks in the woods behind the St. Mihiel front. These barracks, I remember, were left in a very unclean condition by some previous outfit, probably French, as they were full of old straw and cooties. This was at Haudiomont (meuse) near Fort du Rozellier, and Mesnil-sous-les-côtes in the Forêt de Amblonville. Since Sep’t 1st we had been moving about, always closer to the front, stopping for a short time...

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Chapter 11: Meuse-Argonne Offensive (Sep’t 26th to Nov. 11th, 1918)

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pp. 159-203

At one half minute before eleven P.M. on the night of Sep’t 25th, 1918, a lone lieutenant of artillery slowly extends his right hand high over his head, watching closely the second hand of a timepiece held in his other hand. Standing close by him in the woods, a gunnery sergeant holds the lanyard of a small field gun. This isolated battery has just moved in on the MeuseArgonne front.1...

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Chapter 12: On Furlough in Southern France

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pp. 204-220

Having completed the long hike from the Argonne battlefields southeastward, we have now arrived at the small, picturesque, village of Jouy-sous-la-côtes (muerthe et Moselle), near Commercy (meuse), about October 28th. We enter the village from the rear, where the low hills contain old abandoned trench systems and a fort, which had been in use in the earlier stages of the war, 1914 to 1916. Here our time will be taken up in resting, cleaning equipment while awaiting further orders, as this town is probably...

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Chapter 13: Formation of 2d U.S. Army (Fini La Guerre)

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pp. 221-233

The short furlough that we had enjoyed so much now being over, we are on our way back to rejoin the 39th Infantry. “Fini la Guerre.” The war is over. “Fini la Guerre,” that is what the “frog” soldats had been telling us all the way up from southern France. At every station so it seemed, some French soldiers would come alongside the troop train and say “fini la guerre” and then try to swap us rum or vin ordinaire for American hardtack, cigarettes or rubber raincoats. The French soldier was very...

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Chapter 14: Advance of the 3d American Army (Army of Occupation)

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pp. 234-261

The advance of the A.E.F. to the Rhine was in the majority of cases and with the infantry in particular, just one grand long hike. It was a sight-seeing tour also, if you like, but one that entailed much hardship on the individual soldier.1
The first units to enter Germany after the Armistice, were the famous combat divisions of the U.S. Regular Army and two divisions of National Guard troops. They were the 1st, 2d, 3d, & 4th Divisions, U.S. Regulars, the 26th Division (New Eng. Natn’l...

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Chapter 15: The Army of Occupation at Coblenz-Au-Rhine

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pp. 262-286

Arriving at the 2d Battalion headquarters in the old artillery barracks on the Falkensteinstrasse in Coblenz, we passed through the gate and were presently met by an officer who inspected our records, and so on. The kaserne, or artillery depot, consisted of two, long, four-story buildings of red rococo brick opposite each other end to end with a gate between, all parallel with the street. Behind these buildings was a large drill field, mess hall, garages and a railroad....

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Chapter 16: Along the Rhine

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pp. 287-304

Spring in Coblenz is much the same as anywhere else in the temperate climatic zone. Blossoms heavy with perfume, covering the fruit trees, make their appearance early. Grass shoots, orchid and blue-white penciled crocus’s and yellow daffodils peek out at the blue German sky, opening their tiny petals to the morning dew as stolid Teutons start their daily tasks.
The air is balmy and promotes lassitude. Even the army has the Spring fever. But the outposts, and other battalions and companies...

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Chapter 17: Back to the U.S. Via France (Demobilization)

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pp. 305-318

Well, today seems to be the big day. At last, we are about to start on that long return junket, stage by stage, that will eventually end in the U.S.A. Early on the morning of July 11th, 1919, therefore, we find the 4th Combat Division saying a last farewell to Coblenz, the Army of Occupation and the Rhine.
Green recruits of the new 8th U.S. Regiment, mostly boys recently shipped in from the States, will now take over the areas occupied by the 4th and other combat divisions, and will keep our flag flying...

Appendix A: Fourth Combat Division A.E.F.

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pp. 319-322

Appendix B: The 39th Infantry Regiment. Who Were They?

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pp. 323-325

Appendix C: World War Americana

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pp. 326-327

Appendix D: Station List of Company B, 39th Infantry, May–December 1918

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pp. 328-329

Bibliography

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pp. 330-337

Index

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pp. 338-347