Today’s post is written by Scott Ludwig, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.
The 26th of September marks the 98th Anniversary of the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which was the largest operation of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. Commanded by General of the Armies John J. “Black Jack” Pershing and with over a million American soldiers participating, it was a part of the final Allied offensive on the Western Front of World War I and was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.
Here at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) we have extensive holdings related to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive throughout the various archival units. The Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park has created a webpage that features some of the records in our holdings and provides a link to the National Archives Catalog that has a lot more.
Records Relating to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive at the National Archives
Records highlighted on this Meuse-Argonne Offensive page were created both during and after the war and cover a wide array of topics, including operations files of the First Army and Second Army of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), reports, communications and correspondence files from various levels of command. This includes significant correspondence found in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff Third Section (G-3) Correspondence files that includes after action reports and post war analysis not only on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, but the AEF’s participation in World War I overall. There is also valuable information in the Correspondence with Former Division Officers of the American Expeditionary Forces series, which consists of post-war responses from officers to requests by the U. S. Army War College Historical Section for information about their units’ front-line positions and activities on specific days, including those who participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
Also included are the “Town Files” which contains information related to where in European towns and cities American units were located, lists of specific battles that American units were involved in and includes reports, photographs, maps and sketches of various European towns and cities that were of interest to American military planners.
Further the page includes information on multiple series related to foreign forces in World War I, including those at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Records relating to German and Austro-Hungarian forces as well as French military records, in particular those about the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), from the French perspective. The U. S. Army War College Historical Section provided some English translations, transcriptions and commentary, but significant amounts of the information are in German and French.
Finally there are also some Cemeterial files and anniversary commemoration files as well as the detailed narrative report regarding the “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Division (New York National Guard), which was surrounded by German troops inside the Argonne Forest. It is available in digital form in the National Archives Catalog.
There are also a few links on the page including ones to the National World War I Museum and Memorial (U.S.), the United States World War One Centennial Commission and the American Battle Monuments Commission Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial Near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France. Information for requesting records is available on the page including how to contact the The National Archives at St. Louis for the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) and World War I Burial Files of veterans that served in World War I. Many of these records were not affected by the 1973 fire.
This new webpage is a great starting point for anyone interested in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and finding out about relevant resources at NARA.
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If you want to research individual service members who were killed in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, request a Burial Case File from the National Archives at St. Louis. Documents within often tell where someone died and where they were first interred, and often include a statement from someone who witnessed the death. They are in the catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/id/595318 and are searchable by service member’s name. Contact: email@example.com or write National Archives at St. Louis, ATTN: Archival Programs, P.O. Box 38757, St. Louis, MO 63138.
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