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Federal Triangle in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The AEF in the Great War, 1917-1918

 
 
The AEF in the Great War, 1917-1918 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 18, 2021
1. The AEF in the Great War, 1917-1918 Marker
Inscription.  
The first elements of the American Expeditionary Forces, under the command of General John J. Pershing, arrived in France in June 1917, but they lacked the numbers and training to the committed to combat. There was also debate over how the AEF would be deployed. The Allies argued for the piecemeal assignment of American units to British and French armies; Pershing was adamant that the AEF would field an independent army under American command.

The situation changed in early 1918 when Germany launched its "Spring Offensive," intended to end the war before the Allies were reinforced by millions of Americans. At the peak of the crisis, Pershing relented and assigned American divisions to hard-pressed Allied armies.

"Retreat, hell! We just got here!"
Captain Lloyd Williams, U.S. Marine Corps, at Belleau Wood

American troops conducted their first major action on May 28, 1918, when the 1st Division rolled back a German salient at Cantigny. Soon after, American forces were deployed along the Western Front, fighting in battles that have become
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part of American military lore. In early June the 2nd Division, including a brigade of U.S. Marines, drove German forces out of Belleau Wood after weeks of savage fighting. At Château-Thierry the 3rd Division won the name "Rock of the Marne" for its stand on the Marne River. More American forces joined Allied counterattacks in summer and fall 1918, fighting with British, Canadian, and Australian allies in Flanders and the Somme, and with the French at Soissons and across the Marne, Aisne, and Oise rivers.

By September 1918, the AEF began independent operations and played a key role in the "Hundred Days Offensive," which ended the war. The Americans helped break the fortified Hindenburg Line at St. Quentin, and at St. Mihiel, half a million Americans and 100,000 French troops, supported by 1,500 Army Air Service aircraft, took back in four days territory the Germans had held for almost four years.

On September 26 American forces launched the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the largest battle in American history. Over 47 days, 1.2 million American troops drove the Germans back 40 miles to the vital railway hub of Sedan. More than 26,000 American soldiers died.

The United States suffered 53,402 battle deaths in World War I, in less than six months of fighting. Another 63,114 died from accident and disease. After the Civil War and World War II, World War I

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is the deadliest war in American history.
 
Erected 2021 by World War I Centennial Commission, American Battle Monuments Commission.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & SpaceRailroads & StreetcarsWar, World I. A significant historical date for this entry is May 28, 1918.
 
Location. 38° 53.762′ N, 77° 1.959′ 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. Beyond the AEF (here, next to this marker); World War I, 1914-1917 (here, next to this marker); From Homefront to Battlefront (here, next to this marker); World War I Memorial (here, next to this marker); Americans All (here, next to this marker); Armistice and Legacy (here, next to this marker); A Soldier's Journey (here, next to this marker); World War I Remembered (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Federal Triangle.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 44 times since then. Last updated on May 28, 2021, by Bruce Guthrie of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photo   1. submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 13, 2021