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The Second Battle of the Marne

Michael S. Neiberg

Publication Year: 2008

The First Battle of the Marne produced the so-called Miracle of the Marne, when French and British forces stopped the initial German drive on Paris in 1914. Hundreds of thousands of casualties later, with opposing forces still dug into trench lines, the Germans tried again to push their way to Paris and to victory. The Second Battle of the Marne (July 15 to August 9, 1918) marks the point at which the Allied armies stopped the massive German Ludendorff Offensives and turned to offensive operations themselves. The Germans never again came as close to Paris nor resumed the offensive. The battle was one of the first large multinational battles fought by the Allies since the assumption of supreme command by French general Ferdinand Foch. It marks the only time the French, American, and British forces fought together in one battle. A superb account of the bloody events of those fateful days, this book sheds new light on a critically important 20th-century battle.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Twentieth-Century Battles


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pp. vii

List of Maps

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pp. viii

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pp. ix-x

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it certainly was for this project. At the 2006 Society for Military History Conference in Manhattan, Kansas, I had the good fortune to sit next to Spencer Tucker at a breakfast hosted by ABC-CLIO. ...

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Introduction: The Two Marnes

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pp. 1-7

The picturesque and pastoral beauty of the Marne River valley belies its violent past. Twice during the course of World War I this peaceful region sat at the center of a massive battle. Both times, a German army had advanced into the valley, appearing, at least to Allied eyes, to pose a direct threat to Paris. ...

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ONE Jerusalem in the Marne Valley

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pp. 8-25

The 1914 Battle of the Marne had immediately acquired legendary status in France and Great Britain. At the time, it was the largest battle ever fought, and involved more than 2 million men with battle lines stretching from Paris to Verdun, a distance of more than 160 miles. ...

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TWO Marching toward the Marne

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pp. 26-58

In 1914 and 1915, few generals expected the trenches to become a fixed condition of war. As a means of prosecuting war, trench warfare suited neither side particularly well. The Allies knew that they would have to restore mobility to the battlefield if they hoped to force the Germans out of the parts of France and Belgium that they occupied; ...

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THREE German Designs on the Marne

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pp. 59-77

The German army that fought the Second Battle of the Marne had undergone a transformation no less dramatic than those of the British, French, and American armies. In 1914, the German army had taken on a combination of enemies that together had more people, more money, and a larger industrial base. ...

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FOUR The Peace Offensive

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pp. 78-97

If the situation in June looked bleak from the German side of the lines, there seemed little immediate cause for optimism on the Allied side either. On June 3, French forces completed the withdrawal of their units to the south bank of the Marne River. Engineers then destroyed the final bridge over the river in the hopes of slowing down German pursuit. ...

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FIVE Turning the Tide of the War

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pp. 98-117

As the preceding chapters have shown, even before the Second Battle of the Marne opened on 15 July 1918, the two sides had already made many of the key decisions that would determine the battle’s outcome. The Germans had already decided to fight a battle with unclear strategic purposes and resources insufficient to achieve meaningful operational success. ...

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SIX The Allies Strike, July 18–21

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pp. 118-139

Men on both sides knew how badly the German offensive of July 15 had failed. Only the Allied high command, however, knew the full details of the next step that was to come. In order for the Allies to take maximum advantage of their success on the battle’s first day they would need to move quickly. ...

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SEVEN The Battle of Tardenois, July 22–26

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pp. 140-159

The German high command understood how fundamentally the events of July 18–21 had changed the German army’s strategic situation, but senior leadership did not respond with panic or desperation. Realizing that the Allied attack was losing momentum, the Germans developed a new line of defense intended to slow, ...

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EIGHT The Final Phase, July 27–August 9

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pp. 160-181

On July 27, the normally cautious and meticulous French General Marie Émile Fayolle sent an uncharacteristic message to the senior officers of his Groupe d’armées de Réserve (GAR). Aware of the toll the Second Battle of the Marne had taken on the men of the GAR, Fayolle nevertheless hoped to inspire them and then push them on to further feats, ...

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Conclusion: Honoring Foch

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pp. 182-190

Men on both sides of the lines immediately knew how important the Second Battle of the Marne had been. On August 6, Foch received a handwritten letter from Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau addressed to “my dear general and dear friend.” Clemenceau, an anti-clerical politician who distrusted generals, ...


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pp. 191-208


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pp. 209-214


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pp. 215-217

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003546
E-ISBN-10: 0253003547
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253351463

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 29 b&w photos, 6 maps
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Twentieth-Century Battles