From Homefront to Battlefront
When the United States declared war in April 1917, the U.S. Army had fewer than 130,000 men. By the end of the war, 4.7 million Americans would serve in the military, two million of them in Europe.
While many Americans volunteered or were activated with National Guard units, most were draftees. The "doughboys," as all American soldiers were known, represented nearly every segment of America's population: Ivy League blue bloods and working-class laborers, country boys and city dwellers, grandsons of enslaved people and grandsons of Civil War veterans.
Typical recruits trained for six months, then boarded trains to the East Coast and sailed for Europe. There they received additional training from combat-experienced British and French NCOs and officers before moving up to the front.
On arrival in the war zone, American doughboys entered a war of unprecedented destruction. Armies fought on a scale never seen before, and the fighting included advanced new weaponry such as machine guns, tank, airplanes, and poison gas. Because of increases in range, explosive power, and rate of fire, artillery caused the most
Adding the more misery to a world devastated by war, a deadly influenza pandemic struck in 1918-1919. The virus traveled overseas with U.S. troops, and spread rapidly across Europe and the rest of the world. Tens of millions died, including some 50,000 doughboys and another 600,000 back home.
The homefront was just as important in supporting Allied victory. For the first time, the scale of the conflict required the government to organize the economy for war. The War Industries Board set production standards and coordinated railroads and shipping. The National War Labor Board secured the cooperation of American workers by setting higher wages and an eight-hour workday. The government financed the war effort with war bonds and a new personal income tax.
Gaining unity on the homefront required almost as much government attention. The Committee on Public Information produced articles, posters, pamphlets, movies, and speeches to promote the Allied cause. The government suppressed dissent, and passing the Espionage Act which gave the government broad powers to inspect mail and the Sedition Act which made it illegal to speak against the war.
"Your soldiers were superb. They came to us young, enthusiastic, and carried forward by a vigorous idealism, and they marched to battle with admirable gallantry. Yes they were superb. There is no other word."
French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, January 15, 1919
Erected 2021 by World War I Centennial Commission, American Battle Monuments Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Civil Rights • Government & Politics • War, World I. A significant historical date for this entry is January 15, 1919.
Location. 38° 53.763′ N, 77° 1.961′ W. Marker is in Federal Triangle in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest just west of 14th Street Northwest, in the median. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Americans All (here, next to this marker); The AEF in the Great War, 1917-1918 (here, next to this marker); Armistice and Legacy (here, next to this marker); Beyond the AEF (here, next to this marker); A Soldier's Journey (here, next to this marker); World War I, 1914-1917 (here, next to this marker); World War I Remembered (here, next to this marker); World War I Memorial (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Federal Triangle.
Additional keywords. PTSD, mental illness, suppression of free speech, suppression of dissent
Credits. This page was last revised on April 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 38 times since then. Photo 1. submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.