Primary Documents - Crown Prince Wilhelm on the Battle of St Mihiel, 12 September 1918
First selected as a major attack target by U.S. commanders in mid-1917, the German-held St. Mihiel salient was ultimately assaulted by wholly independent U.S. forces on 12 September.
Although considered an inadvisable and perhaps unnecessary target by U.S. Commander-in-Chief John J. Pershing's fellow Allied commanders - chiefly given the relative inexperience of his forces and the fact that fighting further north had taken precedence - the outcome proved Pershing triumphant. By 16 September the entire German salient had been effectively removed.
Click here to read regional commander Crown Prince Wilhelm's assessment of U.S. troops immediately preceding the onset of the battle; reproduced below is an alternate account he subsequently detailed in his memoirs. Click here to read a summary of the battle by local German commander General Max von Gallwitz. Click here to read Pershing's official summary.
Crown Prince Wilhelm on the Battle of St Mihiel
The American attacks were in themselves badly planned; they showed ignorance of warfare; the men advanced in columns and were mowed down by our remaining machine guns.
No great danger lay there, but their tanks pierced our thin lines - one man every twenty metres - and fired on us from behind. Withal the Americans had at their disposal an incredible quantity of heavy and very heavy artillery. Their preliminary firing greatly exceeded in intensity and heaviness anything we had known at Verdun and on the Somme.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
German losses at Messines were 25,000, of which 7,500 were taken prisoner. British casualties were 17,000 killed or wounded.
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