Battle of Cantigny 1918

What was going on in 1918?

The World War 1 was going on in 1918. The war started in 1914. Although it began as a war between Austria and Serbia, it soon spread and engaged all countries of Europe in the fighting. All Europe divided into two groups, the Central Powers and the Allied Powers.

Initially, the American government decided to stay neutral during the war. But when Germans started attacking American ships, US government declared war on the German Empire and joined the Allied powers. US troops started arriving in Europe in 1917 and took part in many important battles of the war.

Before the Battle

President Woodrow Wilson sent American soldiers to Europe under the command of General John J. Pershing. He told Pershing that the American army was a distinct force and should fight alongside the allied forces, not integrated into British and French forces.

This proved difficult in the beginning because when the American forces arrived, allied forces desperately needed reinforcement along different parts of the front-lines. So initially, American troops agreed to be integrated into different allied divisions.

But General Pershing continued to insist that the American troops should be allowed to fight independently. In May, 1918, the American forces were ordered to capture Cantigny which was located a few miles into enemy territory. This was the first major American offensive in World War I.

When and where was the battle fought?

The Battle of Cantigny was fought near the village of Cantigny in northern France. It was fought on May 28, 1918.

Commanders on both sides

The American troops were led by Major General Robert Lee Bullard. He commanded 4000 troops during the offensive. The Germans were commanded by Oskar von Hutier.

The Fighting

On May 28, 1918, the American army launched the attack on the German front-lines. Before advancing, the American artillery pounded the German positions effectively. The 28th Infantry Regiment then proceeded towards Cantigny while being aided by artillery and air cover.

It was able to dislodge the Germans from the village and take control of Cantigny. Although most of the fighting during the offensive was done by the Americans, the French provided valuable support such as tank fires, flamethrowers and heavy gunfire.

The Germans counter-attacked the same day but the attack was successfully repulsed. The Germans continued to counter-attack the American forces throughout the next day but despite suffering many losses, the American forces stood their ground.

Result and Aftermath

The American offensive was successful and the American troops were able to take control of the village of Cantigny by pushing back the German forces. This extended the front-line of the allied forces by many miles.

This was the first major independent American offensive in World War 1 and it proved to the allied forces that Americans were quite capable of fighting and defeating the German forces. In all, the American forces suffered around 1600 casualties during the Battle of Cantigny. The German forces suffered around 1400 casualties and nearly 250 Germans were taken prisoner.

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