A century ago Wednesday, the first shots were fired in one of the most important American military engagements ever — and the deadliest battle in U.S. history.
World War I’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which involved more than a million American soldiers and claimed the lives of 26,277, was launched in northern France on Sept. 26, 1918 to push the German army out of the country and reclaim a rail network vital to supplying enemy troops. The fight lasted a grueling 46 days and generated scores of stories of heroism and sacrifice.
But most notably, it helped bring an end to The Great War.
“In its scale and in the number of American and French troops involved, not only infantry but artillery, tanks, engineers… just the logistics in this, made it the largest operation that the American armed forces had been in to that point,” Doran Cart, a senior curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, told Fox News.
The offensive started Sept. 26, with the French town of Verdun as the centerpiece of the Allied operations, Cart says.
American infantry forces, supported by 2,700 pieces of artillery, 189 tanks, and 821 aircraft, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, spread out in an area about 15 to 20 miles wide, bordered by the Meuse River on one end and the thick Argonne Forest on the other[…]