Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Question For You, Gentle Readers

First of all, let me apologize for the paucity of posts “over here” (pun intended). I recently completed a Civil War battle history that is being published next week and all of my time over the past year has been devoted to its completion.
That being said, I have certainly not lost the WWI “bug” that led me to create this weblog in the first place. With the exception of the post on the Lost Battalion site, there really hasn’t been much substantive posting on this website, so before I delve into my next project, I thought that I’d ask you all some questions. Since the stated purpose of the blog is to write about the AEF and the First World War in general that means that the possibilities for topics are endless.
With that in mind, what would you like to see more of on this blog?
What stories do you think have been languishing in obscurity that you would like to see brought to light?
Who are the unsung heroes that deserve biographies?
What regiment or division within the AEF deserves to have their story told?
What skirmish, incident, or battle needs the dust blown off of it for a new generation of WWI historians to examine?
Are there any preservation issues in the US or elsewhere (such as the Lost Battalion site) that are in danger of being lost or have been swallowed up by the passage of time?
What recent books need to be recommended or reviewed?
Do you think that Centennial of the war will be observed in the U.S. in any meaningful way?
As you can see, asking the questions is the easy part.
It’s answering them that will determine "the shape of things to come,” to quote President Wilson.
I look forward to your answers.


  1. All good questions. However, the one aspect that really interests me is the preservation and remembrance of of WWI related sites. After all, how many people know that the grave of the last soldier - Henry Gunter - who died in WWI is in Baltimore? Regards, Marc

  2. I have a vested interest via my Great-Uncle in the 38th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division US Army. The 3rd Division earned the designation "Rock of the Marne" in the 2nd Battle of the Marne.

  3. Mr Price- I would like to know more info about an event that I heard about on a TV show. The show was about the last soldiers to die in WW1. The show mentioned a final assault by an American unit during the final hours of the war. ie before 11AM on November 11th. Is it true? And what is known about this tragic event?
    I also enjoy conservation and preservation topics.


  4. --@RobertGould ... There may have been others, but the 89th Division (AEF) was involved in a last hour effort to take Stenay on 11/11. Joseph Persico covers it briefly in his book "Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918: World War I and its Violent Climax" (Chapter 30). Apparently, Division Commander William M. Wright was determined to take Stenay as a "battle prize", as well for the hot showers that were there.
    You might also be interested in Wright's diary, published as "Meuse-Argonne Diary: a Division Commander in World War I" (edited by Robert H. Ferrell). Reportedly (?), the only Division Commander diary published to date.
    My grandfather served in a Machine Gun Battalion in the 89th Division (but I don't know if he was among those who crossed the river to Stenay).
    Douglas Heimbigner
    From Sleepy Eye to Saint-Mihiel:(http://ww1marti.blogspot.com/)

  5. Marc,

    That’s a great point. One could also bring up the neglect of the WWI monument in our nation’s capital.


    Have you read Michael Neiburg’s book on the Second Battle of the Marne? A man named Frederic Vinton Hemenway also wrote a multi-volume book all about the 3rd Division in WWI. You might be able to look at it via Google Books.


    In addition to Persico’s book that Douglas mentions, there was a more recent work that I have not read called The Greatest Day in History: How, on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month, the First World War Finally Came to an End by Nicholas Best.


    Many thanks for your excellent commentary – you made my job easier! I have added your blog to the Blogroll of this site.



  6. In regards to the last hours of WWI, units of the AEF were involved all across the front until the very last moments. One such unit was the 26th "Yankee" Division which was originally tasked with defending the right flank of the Neptune Sector near Verdun, but was engaged in clearing German machine gun nests until hostilities ceased. In fact, infantrymen were angered that their artillery support suddenly stopped before they realized what was going on.

    The 26th Division was primarily composed of New England National Guard troops, and was the first complete division to arrive in France. The 26th was also in combat longer than any other AEF division and suffered the most gas casualties. Despite this, most histories of the AEF overlook the 26th Division in part because Pershing didn't like the National Guard in general and Gen. Clarence Edwards in particular. A review of the history of this gallant division would be a good topic.

  7. There are as many versions of the war as their are writers, and national experience shapes those narratives as well. Even more local experience does. We were on the Western Front in Oct 22-Nov 12, 2011 and what we saw and learned in the St Mihiel Salient was different from Verdun and both different from Meaux. The presentations of La Grande Guerre in the museum in Douaumont was extremely different from the interpretive slant in the museum in Meaux that opened 11/11/2011.

    And little remains of the unique relationships forged during the war that shaped lives well beyond that time and place. My grandfather, a volunteer in SSU 15 of the AAFS, made friends that became our friends. The war experience was seminal for him, and through him for me.

    I would like to see the bicentennial be more than a litany of battles and losses and have some exploration of the changes wrought for better or worse--beyond the geo-political implications of the Treaty of Versailles.