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Sep 12, 2018 15 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
At 0100 this morning 100 years ago, thousands of US guns opened fire in a deafening crescendo of steel. In the 26th Division sector alone were 202 guns of all calibers, from trench mortars all the way up to massive railway guns. The St Mihiel Offensive had begun.
Across the lines, the guns paused for a five minute sound ranging an hour before the infantry advance. Germans who scrambled out of their dugouts to man defensive positions were caught in a hail of steel and high explosive when the bombardment resumed.
On the south end of the Salient, the @FightingFirst, 42nd, 89th, 2nd, 5th, 90th, and @82ndABNDiv (still legs) went over the top at 0500, attacking from south to northwest. US Renault FT17 tanks rolled forward over the wet ground in support of the infantry.
The allied forces on the west side of the Salient held in place until 0800, allowing the Germans to commit reserves to the southern end. But at 0800 the preparatory gunfire shifted to a creeping barrage & the 26th and 4th Divisions went over the top with 4 French divisions.
Facing this onslaught were around 55,000 German troops left in the Salient. They were to have been withdrawn over the next two days, as many of the heavy guns had been, but the US attack precipitated the withdrawal order. Now they held on as best they could to buy time.
On each side of the Salient, allied & US troops steadily pushed forward. Opposition stiffened by mid-morning, but MG nests & pillboxes were methodically neutralized by artillery, MGs, tanks, or flanking squads. This was no 2nd Marne bloodbath. This was combined arms warfare
The forces on the southern edge of the Salient make 5 miles on the first day. Those on the western edge gain 2 miles. They seize thousands of prisoners. Many come out of dugouts to surrender to the second wave after the first wave passes over them. Roads become clogged w traffic
Engineers swarm over the cratered roads to allow US and allied reserves and supply trains to reach the ever-moving front lines as streams of wounded & prisoners move in the other direction. Rains over the previous days have left the sector a sodden mess.
Some of Patton's tanks bog down in the wet ground, but most power forward to support the assault along the southern edge. There are hiccups as tanks & infantry learn how to fight together. Learn more about this in our @WarStoriesCast episode on the topic.…
By nightfall, all the US day one objectives had been reached. But the pocket had not been closed. So Pershing sent messages to the commanders of the 1st and 26th Divisions: link up in Vigneulles by morning to close the pocket and prevent the escape of the remaining Germans.
One of Pershing's staff officers messaged MG Edwards, 26th Division commander: "Vigneulles is yours to lose." Edwards, never a man to back down from a challenge from Pershing, grabbed the 102d INF & sent them on an all-night march down the Tranchee de Calonne to Vigneulles
By morning, the US lines are moving forward again, aiming at straightening the line. US horse cavalry makes its only action of the war south of Vigneulles, knocking some German helmets in. Lead scouts from @CTARNG's102nd INF are within sight of Vigneulles, Montsec in the distance
By noon, the 102nd has taken Vigneulles in a sharp fight & spots what appears to be hostile infantry from the south. Scouts carefully fan out. As the infantry gets closer, they realize they're doughboys; the @FightingFirst has arrived & the linkup is complete.
#fww #WW1
By September 16, the St. Mihiel Salient was no more. At the time, it had been America's largest battle, with 550K troops taking part. That title would not last, as in 10 days the AEF would begin America's largest & bloodiest battle ever: the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
If you've enjoyed this, make sure you're following @Erikhistorian @MichaelNeiberg @WW1CC @100ansHM @Aisne1418 @USArmyCMH for more information on the US in #WW1

Suggested reading:
Last of the Doughboys
The AEF Way of War
Make the Kaiser Dance
The Hello Girls
Back Over There

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More from @pptsapper

Oct 7, 2018
It is 0646. Where is your local crazy historian now?
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Sep 28, 2018
Trigger warning for sexual assault topic:

In college, one of my female friends was sexually assaulted at a party by another male student. I & another friend forcibly entered the room & extricated our friend. She was shaking with rage & fear. She didn't want to report it.
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My friend suffered from extreme anxiety after that. Her assailant eventually transferred schools.
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Sep 25, 2018
Right now, 100 years ago, Col. George C Marshall was staring at a map very much like the one below, save that he had no idea how far the massed US Army divisions would advance. It was the eve of America's largest battle: the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. And Marshall had planned it.
From the Aisne River to the Meuse River stood the largest US Army ever assembled in our history to that point. Fifteen divisions - 28k men each, twice the size of French & German divisions - stacked up, waiting for the word to go. Some were veterans. Most were very, very green.
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Sep 22, 2018
Well. It's been a week.

So I'm gonna slam some gin and watch The Last Jedi here in about half an hour or so.

Prepare yourselves
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Ok. Let's do this thing.

The Last Jedi.

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Aug 28, 2018
Did you know that today is the anniversary of some green midwesterners punching the vaunted and veteran Stonewall Division right in the face?

Details to follow at gin-o-clock

listen. Listen. I've got a story. Shuttup and don't interrupt. Ahem.

Once upon a goddam time, on August 28 1862, Thomas Jonathan Jackson made a horrible decision at Brawner's Farm. Ya heard? #drunjhistory
Ok so here's the Lil thing here. Ya gotta understand some shit. It's 1862 which is a helluva year for our ol country because we've got this civil war and stuff going on. By August, it's that time of year for "let's go shoot everything in northern Virginia, k guys?"
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Aug 19, 2018
GUYS. Guess what happens in 45 minutes? It's August 19. Know what that means? It's the anniversary of the USS Constitution versus the HMS Guerriere. KNOW what that means? IT'S TIME TO DRINK DRINKS AND TALK ABOUT MY FAVORITE WARSHIP, SHE IS SO HOT YOU GUYS
Ok, so, look. The Constitution. Way back when in like the dawn of time or whatever, I dunno, everyone from then is dead, well, GW gets this law to allow for six friggin frigates built. Which is CLUTCH bc T Jeff is gonna be all "gunboats, fuckers" which DOESNT WORK
Anyhoo, six frigates. Built up and down the northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Six of em. If you're counting. This is a big deal because the US Navy at this time consists of 6 dudes in a coracle with a rusted musket. Ok, not that bad but damn, not far off you guys
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