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"Was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive Peripheral?" Topic

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World War One

403 hits since 13 Apr 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Apr 2019 12:30 p.m. PST

Historian Geoffrey Wawro has referred to the Meuse-Argonne offensive of WWI as "…this cruel, peripheral, and possibly hopeless offensive…"

Would you agree that this was only a peripheral campaign in WWI?

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2019 1:15 p.m. PST

No, Gallipoli comes to mind as being pretty peripheral and ultimately useless.

monk2002uk14 Apr 2019 5:26 a.m. PST

Categorically not. General Foch wanted to exert continuous pressure on the German forces, not only in time but across the entire Western Front. The American offensive in Meuse-Argonne, as well as the American contributions in other sectors, locked down large numbers of German defenders, prevented easy rotation of tiring units, and put further stress on German logistics. Unlike St Mihiel, where the Germans were able to abandon the salient quite easily, Meuse-Argonne drove towards the strategically important town of Metz.

Gallipoli was 'peripheral' in terms of geography but not impact. It caused hundreds of thousands of Ottoman casualties in a war where attrition was key, not occupation of territory per se.


Legion 414 Apr 2019 8:29 a.m. PST

I agree with that monk …

wrgmr114 Apr 2019 8:33 p.m. PST

+2 the Monk.

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 8:20 a.m. PST

No battles should be peripheral or irrelevant because no one should die for nothing.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 11:08 p.m. PST

I would say the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Asia were all peripheral. Maybe include Italy and the Balkans but I find them debatable. Because after all the war started in the Balkans and Italy was a major combatant in Europe.

Meuse-Argonne was the main effort on the Western Front in 1918. Like monk pointed out, it was a continual pressure on the entire front. 1.2 million American Troops took part. It was far from peripheral.

I think a lot of the dying in WWI was for nothing and wasteful. Just look at the American casualties on the last day of the war. Fighting for territory that would revert back to France anyway once the Armistice began.

monk2002uk20 Apr 2019 10:32 p.m. PST

Apologies but, just to be clear, Meuse-Argonne was the main effort of the American forces on the Western Front. Meuse-Argonne was not the main effort on Western Front as a whole. If you have ever driven along the whole Western Front then you can sense how small, relatively speaking, the Meuse-Argonne sector was compared to the rest of the front. Whilst the Meuse-Argonne was playing out, the British & Dominion, French, and Belgian forces (supported by some American units in the case of the French army) were advancing in Belgium itself and advancing towards Metz from the northeast through the Battles of Cambrai, Courtrai, Mont-d'Origny, Selle, Lys & Escaut, Valenciennes, Sambre, Guise, and Thiérache. These battles alone involved more than 50 Allied divisions compared with the 9 (significantly larger) American divisions in the Meuse-Argonne. This is not to decrease the significance of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, which tied down elements of at least 30 German divisions. We just need to see it in full perspective, where the vast bulk of the German divisions were facing off against the other Allied forces (supported by smaller contingents of Americans here and there).


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