Argonne Days in World War I

Overview

            When he took ship for France in the spring of 1918, Horace Baker was ill prepared for war. A private in the American Expeditionary Forces, the unassuming Mississippi schoolteacher joined the renowned Thirty-second Division and learned his soldiering skills from men who’d already fought in the Aisne-Marne offensive. Before long, he was to put those skills to use in the largest and most costly battle ever fought by the U.S. Army.

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Overview

            When he took ship for France in the spring of 1918, Horace Baker was ill prepared for war. A private in the American Expeditionary Forces, the unassuming Mississippi schoolteacher joined the renowned Thirty-second Division and learned his soldiering skills from men who’d already fought in the Aisne-Marne offensive. Before long, he was to put those skills to use in the largest and most costly battle ever fought by the U.S. Army.

            This poignant memoir recalls the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne, an epic conflict waged by well over a million men that saw casualties of 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded. Many books have been written about General Pershing’s planning of the offensive; this one tells what happened to the soldiers who had to carry out his orders.

            The Thirty-second was a shock division made up largely of National Guard units—farm boys from the Upper Midwest. But as casualties mounted, replacements were rushed into battle with little training—and devastating results. Baker knew friends and tent mates who were alive one day, dead the next, and he kept track of the battle in diary entries tucked into his Bible—and made evasively short in case of capture.

            He shares his and his comrades’ thoughts about fighting in a harsh climate and terrain, relates their ongoing problems with short supplies, and tells how they managed to overcome their fears. It is a straightforward narrative that doesn’t glorify battle or appeal to patriotism yet conveys the horrors of warfare with striking accuracy. Historian Robert Ferrell’s new introduction puts Baker’s recollections in the context of the larger theater of war.

            Baker fleshed out his diary in a book that saw limited publication in 1927 but has remained essentially unknown. Argonne Days in World War I is a masterpiece brimming with insight about the ordinary doughboys who fought in the European trenches. It conveys the spirit of a man who did his duty in a time of trouble—and is a testament to the spirit shared by thousands like him.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Argonne Days in World War I gives every impression of accuracy. The book is, literally, a page turner. I wish I had had this book available when I wrote Yanks.”—John S. D. Eisenhower, author of Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826217080
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

  About the Editor
 

Robert H. Ferrell is Professor Emeritus of History at Indiana University in Bloomington. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division and Five Days in October: The Lost Battalion of World War I, both available from the University of Missouri Press. Ferrell resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction     1
Chatonrupt     7
Lavoye     13
A Long Night March     20
The First Day of the Meuse-Argonne     25
Bivouac and March     30
In Support     38
In the Front Line     44
In the Harness Lodge Woods     49
North of Cierges     53
Over the Top     60
Romagne     69
Relief     76
Cheppywald     86
The Last Drive     94
Brandeville     105
Alone in No-man's-land     112
Ecurey     118
Peuvillers     122
Armistice Day     133
Notes     141
Bibliography     151
Index     155
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