Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Fall of Erech (Col-2); Assyrian

O Moon-god, [1] hear my cry! With thy pure light
Oh, take my spirit through that awful night
That hovers o’er the long-forgotten years,
To sing Accadia’s songs and weep her tears!
‘Twas thus I prayed, when lo! my spirit rose
On fleecy clouds, enwrapt in soft repose;
And I beheld beneath me nations glide
In swift succession by, in all their pride:
The earth was filled with cities of mankind,
And empires fell beneath a summer wind.
The soil and clay walked forth upon the plains
In forms of life, and every atom gains
A place in man or breathes in animals;
And flesh and blood and bones become the walls
Of palaces and cities, which soon fall
To unknown dust beneath some ancient wall.
All this I saw while guided by the stroke
Of unseen pinions: Then amid the smoke
That rose o’er burning cities, I beheld
White Khar-sak-kur-ra’s[2] brow arise that held
The secrets of the gods–that felt the prose
Of Khasisadra’s ark; I heard the roar
Of battling elements, and saw the waves
That tossed above mankind’s commingled graves.
The mighty mountain as some sentinel
Stood on the plains alone; and o’er it fell
A halo, bright, divine; its summit crowned
With sunbeams, shining on the earth around
And o’er the wide expanse of plains;–below
Lay Khar-sak-kal-ama[3] with light aglow,
And nestling far away within my view
Stood Erech, Nipur, Marad, Eridu,
And Babylon, the tower-city old,
In her own splendor shone like burnished gold.
And lo! grand Erech in her glorious days
Lies at my feet. I see a wondrous maze
Of vistas, groups, and clustering columns round,
Within, without the palace;–from the ground
Of outer staircases, massive, grand,
Stretch to the portals where the pillars stand.
A thousand carved columns reaching high
To silver rafters in an azure sky,
And palaces and temples round it rise
With lofty turrets glowing to the skies,
And massive walls far spreading o’er the plains,
Here live and move Accadia’s courtly trains,
And see! the “pit-u-dal-ti”[4] at the gates,
And “masari”[5] patrol and guard the streets!
And yonder comes a “kis-ib”, nobleman,
With a young prince; and see! a caravan
Winds through the gates! With men the streets are filled!
And chariots, a people wise and skilled
In things terrestrial, what science, art,
Here reign! With laden ships from every mart
The docks are filled, and foreign fabrics bring
From peoples, lands, where many an empire, king,
Have lived and passed away, and naught have left
In history or song. Dread Time hath cleft
Us far apart; their kings and kingdoms, priests
And bards are gone, and o’er them sweep the mists
Of darkness backward spreading through all time,
Their records swept away in every clime.

Those alabaster stairs let us ascend,
And through this lofty portal we will wend.
See! richest Sumir rugs amassed, subdue
The tiled pavement with its varied hue,
Upon the turquoise ceiling sprinkled stars
Of gold and silver crescents in bright pairs!
And gold-fringed scarlet curtains grace each door,
And from the inlaid columns reach the floor:
From golden rods extending round the halls,
Bright silken hangings drape the sculptured walls.

But part those scarlet hangings at the door
Of yon grand chamber! Tread the antique floor!
Behold the sovereign on her throne of bronze,
While crouching at her feet a lion fawns;
The glittering court with gold and gems ablaze
With ancient splendor of the glorious days
Of Accad’s sovereignty. Behold the ring
Of dancing beauties circling while they sing
With amorous forms in moving melody,
The measure keep to music’s harmony.
Hear! how the music swells from silver lute
And golden-stringed lyres and softest flute
And harps and tinkling cymbals, measured drums,
While a soft echo from the chamber comes.

But see! the sovereign lifts her jeweled hand,
The music ceases at the Queen’s command;
And lo! Two chiefs in warrior’s array,
With golden helmets plumed with colors gay,
And golden shields, and silver coats of mail,
Obeisance make to her with faces pale,
Prostrate themselves before their sovereign’s throne
In silence brief remain with faces prone,
Till Ellat-gula [6] speaks: “My chiefs, arise!
What word have ye for me? What new surprise?”
Tur-tau-u, [7] rising, says, “O Dannat [8] Queen!
Thine enemy, Khum-baba[9] with Rim-siu[10]
With clanging shields, appears upon the hills,
And Elam’s host the land of Sumir fills.”
“Away, ye chiefs! Sound loud the “nappa-khu”! [11]
Send to their post each warrior “bar-ru”!”[12]
The gray embattlements rose in the light
That lingered yet from Samas’ [13] rays, ere Night
Her sable folds had spread across the sky.
Thus Erech stood, where in her infancy
The huts of wandering Accads had been built
Of soil, and rudely roofed by woolly pelt
O’er laid upon the shepherd’s worn-out staves,
And yonder lay their fathers’ unmarked graves.
Their chieftains in those early days oft meet
Upon the mountains where they Samas greet,
With their rude sacrifice upon a tree
High-raised that their sun-god may shining see
Their offering divine; invoking pray
For aid, protection, blessing through the day.
Beneath these walls and palaces abode
The spirit of their country–each man trod
As if his soul to Erech’s weal belonged,
And heeded not the enemy which thronged
Before the gates, that now were closed with bars
Of bronze thrice fastened.

See the thousand cars
And chariots arrayed across the plains!
The marching hosts of Elam’s armed trains,
The archers, slingers in advance amassed,
With black battalions in the centre placed,
With chariots before them drawn in line,
Bedecked with brightest trappings iridine,
While gorgeous plumes of Elam’s horses nod
Beneath the awful sign of Elam’s god.
On either side the mounted spearsmen far
Extend; and all the enginery of war
Are brought around the walls with fiercest shouts,
And from behind their shields each archer shoots.

Thus Erech is besieged by her dread foes,
And she at last must feel Accadia’s woes,
And feed the vanity of conquerors,
Who boast o’er victories in all their wars.
Great Subartu [14] has fallen by Sutu [15]
And Kassi, [16] Goim [17] fell with Lul-lu-bu, [18]
Thus Khar-sak-kal-a-ma [19] all Eridu [20]
O’erran with Larsa’s allies; Subartu
With Duran [21] thus was conquered by these sons
Of mighty Shem and strewn was Accad’s bones
Throughout her plains, and mountains, valleys fair,
Unburied lay in many a wolf’s lair.
Oh, where is Accad’s chieftain Izdubar,
Her mightiest unrivalled prince of war?

The turrets on the battlemented walls
Swarm with skilled bowmen, archers–from them falls
A cloud of winged missiles on their foes,
Who swift reply with shouts and twanging bows;
And now amidst the raining death appears
The scaling ladder, lined with glistening spears,
But see! the ponderous catapults now crush
The ladder, spearsmen, with their mighty rush
Of rocks and beams, nor in their fury slacked
As if a toppling wall came down intact
Upon the maddened mass of men below.
But other ladders rise, and up them flow
The tides of armed spearsmen with their shields;
From others bowmen shoot, and each man wields
A weapon, never yielding to his foe,
For death alone he aims with furious blow.
At last upon the wall two soldiers spring,
A score of spears their corses backward fling.
But others take their place, and man to man,
And spear to spear, and sword to sword, till ran
The walls with slippery gore; but Erech’s men
Are brave and hurl them from their walls again.
And now the battering-rams with swinging power
Commence their thunders, shaking every tower;
And miners work beneath the crumbling walls,
Alas! before her foemen Erech falls.
Vain are suspended chains against the blows
Of dire assaulting engines.

Ho! there goes
The eastern wall with Erech’s strongest tower!
And through the breach her furious foemen pour:
A wall of steel withstands the onset fierce,
But thronging Elam’s spears the lines soon pierce,
A band of chosen men there fight to die,
Before their enemies disdain to fly;
The “masari”[22] within the breach thus died,
And with their dying shout the foe defied.
The foes swarm through the breach and o’er the walls,
And Erech in extremity loud calls
Upon the gods for aid, but prays for naught,
While Elam’s soldiers, to a frenzy wrought,
Pursue and slay, and sack the city old
With fiendish shouts for blood and yellow gold.
Each man that falls the foe decapitates,
And bears the reeking death to Erech’s gates.
The gates are hidden ‘neath the pile of heads
That climbs above the walls, and outward spreads
A heap of ghastly plunder bathed in blood.
Beside them calm scribes of the victors stood,
And careful note the butcher’s name, and check
The list; and for each head a price they make.
Thus pitiless the sword of Elam gleams
And the best blood of Erech flows in streams.
From Erech’s walls some fugitives escape,
And others in Euphrates wildly leap,
And hide beneath its rushes on the bank
And many ‘neath the yellow waters sank.

The harper of the Queen, an aged man,
Stands lone upon the bank, while he doth scan
The horizon with anxious, careworn face,
Lest ears profane of Elam’s hated race
Should hear his strains of mournful melody:
Now leaning on his harp in memory
Enwrapt, while fitful breezes lift his locks
Of snow, he sadly kneels upon the rocks
And sighing deeply clasps his hands in woe,
While the dread past before his mind doth flow.
A score and eight of years have slowly passed
Since Rim-a-gu, with Elam’s host amassed,
Kardunia’s ancient capital had stormed.
The glorious walls and turrets are transformed
To a vast heap of ruins, weird, forlorn,
And Elam’s spears gleam through the coming morn.
From the sad sight his eyes he turns away,
His soul breathes through his harp while he doth play
With bended head his aged hands thus woke
The woes of Erech with a measured stroke:

O Erech! dear Erech, my beautiful home,
Accadia’s pride, O bright land of the bard,
Come back to my vision, dear Erech, oh, come!
Fair land of my birth, how thy beauty is marred!
The horsemen of Elam, her spearsmen and bows,
Thy treasures have ravished, thy towers thrown down,
And Accad is fallen, trod down by her foes.
Oh, where are thy temples of ancient renown?

Gone are her brave heroes beneath the red tide,
Gone are her white vessels that rode o’er the main,
No more on the river her pennon shall ride,
Gargan-na is fallen, her people are slain.
Wild asses[23] shall gallop across thy grand floors,
And wild bulls shall paw them and hurl the dust high
Upon the wild cattle that flee through her doors,
And doves shall continue her mournful slave’s cry.

Oh, where are the gods of our Erech so proud,
As flies they are swarming away from her halls,
The Sedu [24] of Erech are gone as a cloud,
As wild fowl are flying away from her walls.
Three years did she suffer, besieged by her foes,
Her gates were thrown down and defiled by the feet
Who brought to poor Erech her tears and her woes,
In vain to our Ishtar with prayers we entreat.

To Ishtar bowed down doth our Bel thus reply,
“Come, Ishtar, my queenly one, hide all thy tears,
Our hero, Tar-u-man-i izzu Sar-ri, [25]
In Kipur is fortified with his strong spears.
The hope of Kardunia, [26] land of my delight,
Shall come to thy rescue, upheld by my hands,
Deliverer of peoples, whose heart is a right,
Protector of temples, shall lead his brave bands.”

Awake then, brave Accad, to welcome the day!
Behold thy bright banners yet flaming on high,
Triumphant are streaming on land and the sea!
Arise, then, O Accad! behold the Sami![27]
Arranged in their glory the mighty gods come
In purple and gold the grand Tam-u[8] doth shine
Over Erech, mine Erech, my beautiful home,
Above thy dear ashes, behold thy god’s sign!

[Footnote 1: “O Moon-god, hear my cry!” (“Siu lici unnini!”) the name of the author of the Izdubar epic upon which our poem is based.]—-[Footnote 2: “Khar-sak-kur-ra,” the Deluge mountain on which the ark of Khasisadra (the Accadian Noah) rested.]—-[Footnote 3: “Khar-sak-kal-ama” is a city mentioned in the Izdubar epic, and was probably situated at the base of Khar-sak-kur-ra, now called Mount Elwend. The same mountain is sometimes called the “Mountain of the World” in the inscriptions, where the gods were supposed to sometimes reside.]—-[Footnote 4: “Pit-u-dal-ti,” openers of the gates.]—-[Footnote 5: “Masari,” guards of the great gates of the city, etc.]—-[Footnote 6: “Ellat-gula,” the queen of Erech, the capital of Babylonia.]—-[Footnote 7: “Tur-tan-u” was the army officer or general who in the absence of the sovereign took the supreme command of the army, and held the highest rank next to the queen or king.]—-[Footnote 8: “Dannat” (the “Powerful Lady”) was a title applied to the Queen, the mother of Izdubar (Sayce’s ed. Smith’s “Chal. Acc. of Gen.,” p. 184). We have here identified her with Ellat-gula, the Queen of Babylon, who preceded Ham-murabi or Nammurabi, whom the inscriptions indicate was an Accadian. The latter we have identified with Nimrod, following the suggestion of Mr. George Smith.]—-[Footnote 9: “Khumbaba” was the giant Elamitic king whom Izdubar overthrew. We identify him with the King of the Elamites who, allied with Rimsin or Rimagu, was overthrown by Nammurabi or Izdubar.]—-[Footnote 10: “Rim-siu,” above referred to, who overthrew Uruk, or Karrak, or Erech. He was King of Larsa, immediately south of Erech.]—-[Footnote 11: “Nap-pa-khu,” war-trumpet.]—-[Footnote 12: “Bar-ru,” army officer.]—-[Footnote 13: “Samas,” the sun-god.]—-[Footnote 14: “Subartu” is derived from the Accadian “subar” (“high”), applied by the Accadians to the highlands of Aram or Syria. It is probable that all these countries, viz., Subartu, Goim, Lullubu, Kharsak-kalama, Eridu, and Duran, were at one time inhabited by the Accadians, until driven out by the Semites.]—-[Footnote 15: “Sutu” is supposed to refer to the Arabians.]—-[Footnote 16: “Kassi,” the Kassites or Elamites. The Kassi inhabited the northern part of Elam.]—-[Footnote 17: “Goim,” or “Gutium,” supposed by Sir Henry Rawlinson to be the Goyim of Gen. xiv, ruled by Tidal or Turgal (“the Great Son”).]—-[Footnote 18: “Lul-lu-bu,” a country northward of Mesopotamia and Nizir.]—-[Footnote 19: “Kharsak-kala-ma,” the city supposed to lie at the base of Kharsak-kurra, or Mount Nizir, or Mount Elwend. The same city was afterward called Echatana.]—-[Footnote 20: “Eridu,” the land of Ur, or Erech.]—-[Footnote 21: “Duran,” Babylonia.]—-[Footnote 22: “Masari,” guards of the palace, etc.]—-[Footnote 23: See Sayce’s translation in the “Chal. Acc. of Gen.,” by Smith, p. 193.]—-[Footnote 24: “Sedu,” spirits of prosperity.]—-[Footnote 25: “Tar-u-mani izzu Sarri,” son of the faith, the fire of kings, or fire-king.]—-[Footnote 26: “Kardunia,” the ancient name of Babylon.]—-[Footnote 27: “Sami,” heavens (plural).]—-[Footnote 28: “Tamu,” dawn or sunrise, day.]


SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature (1901); Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.


Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Coronation of Izdubar (Col-4); Assyrian

A crowd of maidens led a glorious van;
With roses laden the fair heralds ran,
With silver-throated music chant the throng,
And sweetly sang the coronation song:
And now we see the gorgeous cavalcade,
Within the walls in Accad’s grand parade
They pass, led by the maidens crowned with flowers,
Who strew the path with fragrance;–to the towers
And walls and pillars of each door bright cling
The garlands. Hear the maidens joyful sing!

“Oh, shout the cry! Accadians, joyful sing
For our Deliverer! Oh, crown him King!
Then strew his path with garlands, tulips, rose,
And wave his banners as he onward goes;
Our mighty Nin-rad comes, oh, raise the cry!
We crown Tar-u-ma-ni iz-zu sar-ri!

Away to Samas’ temple grand, away!
For Accad crowns him, crowns him there!
He is our chosen Sar[1] this glorious day,
Oh, send the Khanga[2] through the air!

Then chant the chorus, all ye hosts above!
O daughters, mothers, sing for him we love!
His glory who can sing, who brings us joy?
For hope and gladness all our hearts employ.
He comes, our hope and strength in every war:
We crown him as our king, our Izdubar!

Away to Samas’ temple grand, away!
For Accad crowns him, crowns him there!
He is our chosen Sar this glorious day,
Oh, send the Khanga through the air!”

Toward the temple filed the long parade,
The nobles led while Accad’s music played;
The harps and timbrels, barsoms, drums and flutes
Unite with trumpets and the silver lutes.
Surrounded by his chieftains rides the Sar
In purple robes upon his brazen car.
Bedecked with garlands, steeds of whitest snow
The chariot draw in state with movement slow,
Each steed led by a “kisib”, nobleman,
A score of beauteous horses linked in span.
The army follows with their nodding plumes,
And burnished armor, trumpets, rolling drums,
And glistening spears enwreathed with fragrant flowers,
While scarfs are waving from the crowded towers,
And shouts of joy their welcome loud proclaim,
And from each lip resounds their monarch’s name.

And now before the holy temple stands
The chariot, in silence cease the bands.
Around an altar stand the waiting priests,
And held by them, the sacrificial beasts.
The hero from his chair descends,
And bowing to the priests, he lowly bends
Before the sacred altar of the Sun,
And prays to Samas, Accad’s Holy One.

[3] “O Samas, I invoke thee, throned on high!
Within the cedars’ shadow bright thou art,
Thy footing rests upon immensity;
All nations eagerly would seek thy heart.
Their eyes have turned toward thee; O our Friend!
Whose brilliant light illuminates all lands,
Before thy coming all the nations bend,
Oh, gather every people with thy hands!
For thou, O Samas, knowest boundaries
Of every kingdom, falsehood dost destroy,
And every evil thought from sorceries
Of wonders, omens, dreams that do annoy,
And evil apparitions, thou dost turn
To happy issue; malice, dark designs;
And men and countries in thy might o’erturn,
And sorcery that every soul maligns.
Oh, in thy presence refuge let me find!
From those who spells invoke against thy King,
Protect one! and my heart within thine, oh, bind!
[4]Thy breath within mine inmost soul, oh, bring!
That I with thee, O Samas, may rejoice.
And may the gods who me created, take
Thy hands and lead me, make thy will my choice,
[5]Direct my breath, my hands, and of me make
They servant, Lord of light of legions vast,
O Judge, thy glory hath all things surpassed!”

The King then rises, takes the sacred glass,[6]
And holds it in the sun before the mass
Of waiting fuel on the altar piled.
The centring rays–the fuel glowing gild
With a round spot of fire and quickly, spring
Above the altar curling, while they sing!

[7] “Oh, to the desert places may it fly,
This incantation holy!
O spirit of the heavens, us this day
Remember, oh, remember!
O spirit of the earth, to thee we pray,
Remember! Us remember!

“O God of Fire! a lofty prince doth stand,
A warrior, and son of the blue sea,
Before the God of Fire in thine own land,
Before thy holy fires that from us free
Dread Darkness, where dark Nuk-khu reigns.
Our prince, as monarch we proclaim,
His destiny thy power maintains,
Oh, crown his glory with wide fame!

“With bronze and metal thou dost bless
All men, and givest silver, gold.
The goddess with the horned face
Did bless us with thee from of old.
From dross thy fires change gold to purity;
Oh, bless our fire-king, round him shine
With Heaven’s vast sublimity!
And like the earth with rays divine,
As the bright walls of Heaven’s shrine.”

[Footnote 1: “Sar,” king.]—-[Footnote 2: “Khanga,” chorus.]—-[Footnote 3: One of the Accadian psalms is here quoted from “Chaldean Magic,” by Lenormant, pp. 185, 186. See also “Records of the Past,” vol. xi. pl. 17, col. 2.]—-[Footnote 4: Literally, “Right into my marrow, O Lords of breath.”]—-[Footnote 5: Literally, “Direct the breath of my mouth!”]—-[Footnote 6: Sacred glass, sun-glass used to light the sacred fire.]—-[Footnote 7: Incantation to Fire (“Records of the Past,” vol. xi. p. 137). The Accadian and Assyrian text is found in “C.I.W.A.,” vol. iv. pl. 14, and on tablet K. 49,002, in the British Museum.]


SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar And Izdubar: Invocation (1); Assyrian

The great nation which dwelt in the seventh century before our era on the banks of Tigris and Euphrates flourished in literature as well as in the plastic arts, and had an alphabet of its own. The Assyrians sometimes wrote with a sharp reed, for a pen, upon skins, wooden tablets, or papyrus brought from Egypt. In this case they used cursive letters of a Phoenician character. But when they wished to preserve their written documents, they employed clay tablets, and a stylus whose beveled point made an impression like a narrow elongated wedge, or arrow-head. By a combination of these wedges, letters and words were formed by the skilled and practiced scribe, who would thus rapidly turn off a vast amount of “copy.”

All works of history, poetry, and law were thus written in the cuneiform or old Chaldean characters, and on a substance which could withstand the ravages of time, fire, or water. Hence we have authentic monuments of Assyrian literature in their original form, un-glossed, unaltered, and un-garbled, and in this respect Chaldean records are actually superior to those of the Greeks, the Hebrews, or the Romans.

The literature of the Chaldeans is very varied in its forms. The hymns to the gods form an important department, and were doubtless employed in public worship. They are by no means lacking in sublimity of expression, and while quite un-metrical they are proportioned and emphasized, like Hebrew poetry, by means of parallelism. In other respects they resemble the productions of Jewish psalmists, and yet they date as far back as the third millennium before Christ. They seem to have been transcribed in the shape in which we at present have them in the reign of Assurbanipal, who was a great patron of letters, and in whose reign libraries were formed in the principal cities. The Assyrian renaissance of the seventeenth century B.C. witnessed great activity among scribes and book collectors: modern scholars are deeply indebted to this golden age of letters in Babylonia for many precious and imperishable monuments. It is, however, only within recent years that these works of hoar antiquity have passed from the secluded cell of the specialist and have come within reach of the general reader, or even of the student of literature. For many centuries the cuneiform writing was literally a dead letter to the learned world. The clue to the understanding of this alphabet was originally discovered in 1850 by Colonel Rawlinson, and described by him in a paper read before the Royal Society. Hence the knowledge of Assyrian literature is, so far as Europe is concerned, scarcely more than half a century old.

Among the most valuable of historic records to be found among the monuments of any nation are inscriptions, set up on public buildings, in palaces, and in temples. The Greek and Latin inscriptions discovered at various points on the shores of the Mediterranean have been of priceless value in determining certain questions of philology, as well as in throwing new light on the events of history. Many secrets of language have been revealed, many perplexities of history disentangled, by the words engraven on stone or metal, which the scholar discovers amid the dust of ruined temples, or on the “cippus” of a tomb. The form of one Greek letter, perhaps even its existence, would never have been guessed but for its discovery in an inscription. If inscriptions are of the highest critical importance and historic interest, in languages which are represented by a voluminous and familiar literature, how much more precious must they be when they record what happened in the remotest dawn of history, surviving among the ruins of a vast empire whose people have vanished from the face of the earth?

Hence the cuneiform inscriptions are of the utmost interest and value, and present the greatest possible attractions to the curious and intelligent reader. They record the deeds and conquests of mighty kings, the Napoleons and Hannibal’s of primeval time. They throw a vivid light on the splendid sculptures of Nineveh; they give a new interest to the pictures and carvings that describe the building of cities, the marching to war, the battle, by sea and land, of great monarchs whose horse and foot were as multitudinous as the locusts that in Eastern literature are compared to them. Lovers of the Bible will find in the Assyrian inscriptions many confirmations of Scripture history, as well as many parallels to the account of the primitive world in Genesis, and none can give even a cursory glance at these famous remains without feeling his mental horizon widened. We are carried by this writing on the walls of Assyrian towns far beyond the little world of the recent centuries; we pass, as almost modern, the day when Julius Caesar struggled in the surf of Kent against the painted savages of Britain. Nay, the birth of Romulus and Remus is a recent event in comparison with records of incidents in Assyrian national life, which occurred not only before Moses lay cradled on the waters of an Egyptian canal, but before Egypt had a single temple or pyramid, three millenniums before the very dawn of history in the valley of the Nile.

But the interest of Assyrian Literature is not confined to hymns, or even to inscriptions. A nameless poet has left in the imperishable tablets of a Babylonian library an epic poem of great power and beauty. This is the Epic of Izdubar. At Dur-Sargina, the city where stood the palace of Assyrian monarchs three thousand years ago, were two gigantic human figures, standing between the winged bulls, carved in high relief, at the entrance of the royal residence. These human figures are exactly alike, and represent the same personage–a Colossus with swelling hews, and dressed in a robe of dignity. He strangles a lion by pressing it with brawny arm against his side, as if it were no more than a cat. This figure is that of Izdubar, or Gisdubar, the great central character of Assyrian poetry and sculpture, the theme of minstrels, the typical hero of his land, the favored of the gods. What is called the Epic of Izdubar relates the exploits of this hero, who was born the son of a king in Ourouk of Chaldea. His father was dethroned by the Elamites, and Izdubar was driven into the wilderness and became a mighty hunter. In the half-peopled earth, so lately created, wild beasts had multiplied and threatened the extermination of mankind. The hunter found himself at war with monsters more formidable than even the lion or the wild bull. There were half-human scorpions, bulls with the head of man, fierce satyrs and winged griffins. Deadly war did Izdubar wage with them, till as his period of exile drew near to a close he said to his mother, “I have dreamed a dream; the stars rained from heaven upon me; then a creature, fierce-faced and taloned like a lion, rose up against me, and I smote and slew him.”

The dream was long in being fulfilled, but at last Izdubar was told of a monstrous jinn, whose name was Heabani; his head was human but horned; and he had the legs and tail of a bull, yet was he wisest of all upon earth. Enticing him from his cave by sending two fair women to the entrance, Izdubar took him captive and led him to Ourouk, where the jinn married oneof the women whose charms had allured him, and became henceforth the well-loved servant of Izdubar. Then Izdubar slew the Elamite who had dethroned his father, and put the royal diadem on his own head. And behold the goddess Ishtar (Ashtaroth) cast her eyes upon the hero and wished to be his wife, but he rejected her with scorn, reminding her of the fate of Tammuz, and of Alala the Eagle, and of the shepherd Taboulon–all her husbands, and all dead before their time. Thus, as the wrath of Juno pursued Paris, so the hatred of this slighted goddess attends Izdubar through many adventures. The last plague that torments him is leprosy, of which he is to be cured by Khasisadra, son of Oubaratonton, last of the ten primeval kings of Chaldea. Khasisadra, while still living, had been transported to Paradise, where he yet abides. Here he is found by Izdubar, who listens to his account of the Deluge, and learns from him the remedy for his disease. The afflicted hero is destined, after being cured, to pass, without death, into the company of the gods, and there to enjoy immortality. With this promise the work concludes.

The great poem of Izdubar has but recently been known to European scholars, having been discovered in 1871 by the eminent Assyriologist, Mr. George Smith. It was probably written about 2000 B.C., though the extant edition, which came from the library of King Assurbanipal in the palace at Dur-Sargina, must bear the date of 600 B.C. The hero is supposed to be a solar personification, and the epic is interesting to modern writers not only on account of its description of the Deluge, but also for the pomp and dignity of its style, and for its noble delineation of heroic character.

[BY: Epiphanius Wilson]

O love, my queen and goddess, come to me;
My soul shall never cease to worship thee;
Come pillow here thy head upon my breast,
And whisper in my lyre thy softest, best.
And sweetest melodies of bright “Sami”,[1]
Our Happy Fields[2] above dear “Subartu”;[3]
Come nestle closely with those lips of love
And balmy breath, and I with thee shall rove
Through “Sari”[4] past ere life on earth was known,
And Time unconscious sped not, nor had flown.
Thou art our all in this impassioned life:
How sweetly comes thy presence ending strife,
Thou god of peace and Heaven’s undying joy,
Oh, hast thou ever left one pain or cloy
Upon this beauteous world to us so dear?
To all mankind thou art their goddess here.
To thee we sing, our holiest, fairest god,
The One who in that awful chaos trod
And woke the Elements by Law of Love
To teeming worlds in harmony to move.
From chaos thou hast led us by thy hand,
[5]Thus spoke to man upon that budding land:
“The Queen of Heaven, of the dawn am I,
The goddess of all wide immensity,
For thee I open wide the golden gate
Of happiness, and for thee love create
To glorify the heavens and fill with joy
The earth, its children with sweet love employ.”
Thou gavest then the noblest melody
And highest bliss–grand nature’s harmony.
With love the finest particle is rife,
And deftly woven in the woof of life,
In throbbing dust or clasping grains of sand,
In globes of glistening dew that shining stand
On each pure petal, Love’s own legacies
Of flowering verdure, Earth’s sweet panoplies;
By love those atoms sip their sweets and pass
To other atoms, join and keep the mass
With mighty forces moving through all space,
Tis thus on earth all life has found its place.
Through Kisar,[6] Love came formless through the air
In countless forms behold her everywhere!
Oh, could we hear those whispering roses sweet,
Three beauties bending till their petals meet,
And blushing, mingling their sweet fragrance there
In language yet unknown to mortal ear.
Their whisperings of love from morn till night
Would teach us tenderly to love the right.

O Love, here stay! Let chaos not return!
With hate each atom would its lover spurn
In air above, on land, or in the sea,
O World, undone and lost that loseth thee!
For love we briefly come, and pass away
For other men and maids; thus bring the day
Of love continuous through this glorious life.
Oh, hurl away those weapons fierce of strife!
We here a moment, point of time but live,
Too short is life for throbbing hearts to grieve.
Thrice holy is that form that love hath kissed,
And happy is that man with heart thus blessed.
Oh, let not curses fall upon that head
Whom love hath cradled on the welcome bed
Of bliss, the bosom of our fairest god,
Or hand of love e’er grasp the venging rod.

Oh, come, dear Zir-ri,[7] tune your lyres and lutes,
And sing of love with chastest, sweetest notes,
Of Accad’s goddess Ishtar, Queen of Love,
And Izdubar, with softest measure move;
Great Samas'[8] son, of him dear Zir-ri sing!
Of him whom goddess Ishtar warmly wooed,
Of him whose breast with virtue was imbued.
He as a giant towered, lofty grown,
As Babil’s[9] great “pa-te-si”[10] was he known,
His armed fleet commanded on the seas
And erstwhile travelled on the foreign leas;
His mother Ellat-gula[11] on the throne
From Erech all Kardunia[12] ruled alone.

[Footnote 1: “Samu,” heaven.]–[Footnote 2: “Happy Fields,” celestial gardens, heaven.]—[Footnote 3: “Subartu,” Syria.]–[Footnote 4: “Sari,” plural form of “saros,” a cycle or measurement of time used by the Babylonians, 3,600 years.]–[Footnote 5: From the “Accadian Hymn to Ishtar,” terra-cotta tablet numbered “S, 954,” one of the oldest hymns of a very remote date, deposited in the British Museum by Mr. Smith. It comes from Erech, one of the oldest, if not the oldest, city of Babylonia. We have inserted a portion of it in its most appropriate place in the epic. See translation in “Records of the Past,” vol. v. p. 157.]–[Footnote 6: “Kisar,” the consort or queen of Sar, father of all the gods.]–[Footnote 7: “Zir-ri” (pronounced “zeer-ree”), short form of “Zi-aria,” spirits of the running rivers–naiads or water-nymphs.]–[Footnote 8: “Samas,” the sun-god.]–[Footnote 9: Babil, Babylon; the Accadian name was “Diu-tir,” or “Duran.”]–[Footnote 10: “Pa-te-si,” prince.]–[Footnote 11: “Ellat-gula,” one of the queens or sovereigns of Erech, supposed to have preceded Nammurabi or Nimrod on the throne. We have identified Izdubar herein with Nimrod.]–[Footnote 12: “Kardunia,” the ancient name of Babylonia.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature [1901]; Author: Anonymous; Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.


World War One: Meuse-Argonne; 27-31 Oct. 1918 Preparing for the Final Push

Preparing for the Final Push: 27–31 October 1918 

By 22 October, it was evident to Liggett that heavy casualties, troop exhaustion, and tangled supply lines had taken their toll on the First Army’s momentum. As he recalled: The condition in the First Army was such that it was imperative to rehabilitate our divisions, get necessary replacements into condition for action, gather up a mass of stragglers and return them to their proper commands, and while keeping up pressure on the enemy, prepare for a powerful, well-coordinated effort . . .we needed rest and refit.

Reports from Liggett’s staff and commanders supported this observation. During its first two weeks fighting in the Meuse-Argonne, the 1st Division had suffered over 9,000 casualties. As the storied division’s inspector general noted, “the morale of the unit is not nearly as high as it formerly was. This is shown by the general demeanor of the men and the lack of snap and spirit which formerly prevailed in this unit.” Liggett was convinced that his army needed a short operational pause to sort out its problems and to prepare for a renewed and redoubled attack on the Germans. He originally planned to begin the assault around 28 October, but as General Henri Gouraud’s neighboring French Fourth Army also needed rest, Pershing and Liggett agreed that the Americans and French would resume their coordinated attacks on 1 November. This gave the First Army four days to replenish and retrain its depleted ranks and to plan and coordinate its all-important artillery and supply operations for the upcoming attack.

During this pause, the army’s engineers feverishly labored to build new roads and light rail lines and to improve the existing supply routes throughout the army’s sector. Likewise, First Army logisticians devoted much of their energies to moving forward the mountains of shells that the First Army would need for the coming attack. To aid in these efforts, Pershing directed the AEF chief of staff, Maj. Gen. James W. McAndrew, and the AEF chief of operations (G–3), General Conner, to focus their attention on ensuring the smooth flow of supplies from the SOS to the front and to correcting the army’s previous lapses in communications and in its command and control system.

Although the First Army’s operations greatly slowed during the last week of October, they did not stop. Liggett planned for a set-piece battle on 1 November and worked to give his forces every possible advantage on H-hour. This meant that the army’s corps continued to conduct local attacks to secure the best possible terrain for launching the main assault. The American front on 31 October ran from roughly a kilometer north of Grandpré on the army’s western boundary along a line extending east from just south of Landres-et-St. Georges and continuing through the northern edges of the Bois de Bantheville, the Bois des Rappes, and the Bois de Forêt near the left bank of the Meuse. East of the Meuse, the French XVII Corps occupied a line that ran roughly a kilometer south of Sivry-sur-Meuse, east through the Bois de Chaume and the Bois de la Grande Montagne, to just north of Beaumont.

Although the Americans had lost over 22,000 dead and well over 100,000 wounded since the beginning of the campaign, Liggett believed that the First Army was bleeding the enemy of his last reserves of strength. By the end of October, the German Fifth Army was in fact struggling to rotate its depleted units out of the line. On 31 October, the Americans faced ten German divisions west of the Meuse and nine more in the French XVII Corps’ sector east of the river. These numbers did not tell the whole story. Major Giehrl admitted that “the disintegrating influence of numerous forest combats” and increasingly heavy losses had sapped the combat power of most of these units. Sensing that the war was coming to an end, the German high command directed its subordinates to hold ground at all costs to try to win Germany a stronger negotiating position at the peace table. This forced commanders in the Meuse-Argonne to launch counterattack after counterattack to try to accomplish this task or to stave off tactical calamities. These counterattacks hammered the doughboys and often deprived them of their hard-won gains, but in doing so the Germans continued to hemorrhage their combat power.

By the end of October, the German Fifth Army had already lost nearly 25,000 men and had no reserves left to throw into the battle. Most of its frontline infantry regiments had been reduced to well below 50 percent of their authorized strengths. To fill the growing gaps in its ranks, the Fifth Army had to return its exhausted divisions to the battle before they had sufficient time for rest and refit. To make matters worse, the news that Austria-Hungary was seeking a separate peace led General Marwitz and General Max von Gallwitz to remove all their Austrian units from the front line. Simply put, the Germans were caught in an unsustainable exchange rate of casualties with the Allies.

The Americans were doing their best to unbalance the attritional scale. In the first month of the campaign, they had failed to adequately coordinate artillery support with infantry assaults, but nevertheless the First Army’s French and American artillerymen took a devastating toll on the Germans in the Meuse-Argonne. Learning by doing was hard-going in the AEF, but it was learning nevertheless. As American officers such as Summerall, and the First Army’s chief of artillery, Maj. Gen. Edward F. McGlachlin, came to master the iron hammer of artillery, the Germans could muster no response. In late October, an officer in the German 102d Infantry Regiment bewailed the “monstrous amount of artillery” that the Americans were able to employ against his positions, and other German officers lamented the devastating effect that the American artillerymen had on the strength and morale of their formations.

The First Army’s plan for the 1 November attack sought to capitalize on its strengths and the experience the Americans had gained since the start of the offensive. As the First Army began its preparations for a renewed assault, Foch pressed Pershing to focus the American efforts on the left of their sector in a combined attack with the French Fourth Army to clear the Bois de Bourgogne. Liggett rejected this approach, as the experience of slugging through the Argonne had convinced him that fighting in forests was too slow and costly to achieve any decisive results.

He instead argued that the key terrain in the First Army’s sector was the Barricourt Heights. The heights, which ran from Villersdevant-Dun northwest to Fossé, were the linchpin of the remaining German defenses south of the Meuse River. If the Americans broke through at Barricourt, the Germans would be forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal with their backs against the Meuse River. Liggett convinced Pershing to support his plan, but the new First Army commander understood that taking the Barricourt Heights would be no easy matter. The high ground dominated the American avenues of approach and offered the enemy good observation and fields of fire for the artillery and machine gun positions that studded its hillsides.

To crack this tough position, Liggett planned for an initial set-piece battle that would maximize the First Army’s advantage in manpower and firepower over the Germans. The V Corps was to spearhead the American effort. It had the mission of capturing the Barricourt Heights and breaking through the Freya Stellung, the last prepared German defensive belt south of the Meuse, by nightfall on 1 November. The III Corps would support the V Corps in overrunning the Barricourt Heights by seizing the hills north and east of Andevanne and by protecting Summerall’s flank from German counterattacks. On the First Army’s left flank, the I Corps faced strong German defenses running from Talma Farm through the Bois des Loges and Champigneulle to St. Georges. Given the strength of the enemy’s positions, Liggett ordered Dickman to launch only limited attacks with the goal of protecting the V Corps’ flank by capturing the high ground south of Thénorgues and fixing the German defenders in place. Liggett also directed the I Corps to prevent German artillery on the heights of the Bois de Bourgogne from hindering the V Corps’ attack. The First Army commander believed that if the V Corps succeeded in taking the Barricourt Heights, the Germans facing the I Corps would have to withdraw from their defenses and Dickman could then drive on to capture Boult-aux-Bois.

Most of the First Army’s efforts in the last week of October were devoted to ensuring that the V Corps’ attack would achieve the desired results. At long last, the Americans had recognized that tactical success on the Great War’s battlefields rested largely upon the ability of the attacker to crush the defender under the weight of artillery fire. This was a decisive rejection of Pershing’s focus on an “aggressive offensive based on self-reliant infantry.” In fact, Summerall went so far as to state in the V Corps’ attack order, “It is essential that fire superiority rather than sheer man power be the driving force of the attack.” To ensure this superiority, the First Army massed 1,576 tubes of artillery on the front, including three batteries of 14-inch railroad guns manned by crews from the U.S. Navy. To compensate for the loss of some of the First Army’s French artillery units since the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Liggett’s planners increased the daily shell expenditure for each gun. For the 1 November assault, the army would have roughly one gun per twenty meters of front and each piece would fire 235 shells on average per day.

Liggett also changed the First Army’s tactical approach. He rejected the AEF’s previous pattern of setting unrealistic objectives. Instead, he planned for relatively shallow advances by the V and III Corps on 1 November that would keep them well within the range of army, corps, and divisional artillery. The First Army’s initial attack would be preceded by a two-hour-long “hurricane barrage” designed to paralyze the German command and control and fire support system as well as to destroy the enemy’s machine guns and strong points. After these preparatory fires, the American artillery plan focused on providing maximum support to the infantry by maintaining a steady rolling barrage that kept within 1,000 meters of the advancing doughboys throughout the attack.

For the first time in the war, the Americans would also make maximum use of their chemical warfare assets and better coordinate their air effort to support ground operations. Liggett specifically directed that heavy concentrations of mustard gas be dropped on German artillery units on the Heights of the Meuse, the Bois de Sassey, and on the hills of the Bois de Bourgogne to neutralize the enemy’s ability to bring flanking fires on the American advance. In the last piece of the “firepower puzzle,” the First Army ordered the Air Service to change its approach. The doughboys had long complained that American aviators had not provided the infantry with enough air cover and direct support during the campaign. In response, the AEF’s pilots would now refocus their efforts in support of the troops by attacking German defenses and artillery in the direct path of the advance and by keeping enemy aircraft from harassing the ground troops.

This firepower-centric approach to war also permeated the V Corps’ preparations. Summerall planned to lead his assault with the fully rested and veteran 2d and 89th Divisions. These units would attack on line in a concerted push to overwhelm the Germans on the Barricourt Heights. To accomplish this, Summerall intended to crush enemy resistance by massing the overwhelming firepower of army, corps, and divisional artillery. He attached the field artillery brigades and machine gun units from his reserve divisions (the 1st and 42d Divisions) to the 2d and 89th Divisions for the initial phase of the attack. While the artillery blasted the German defenses and artillery positions, Summerall ordered all of the corps’ machine guns to join in with direct and indirect fire to pin down the enemy. As the V Corps commander noted, “The barrage plan was so constructed that throughout the advance, the entire corps front of more than eight kilometers would be covered by a sheet of shell, shrapnel, and bullets to a depth of twelve hundred meters.” Lastly, Summerall was to use the First Army’s remaining fifteen available tanks to assist the 2d Division’s advance.

Although Summerall had done everything possible to tip the scales in favor of his assault units, he was well aware that attacks in the Great War often bogged down as the strength of the attackers waned during the course of the battle. To prepare for this eventuality, he ordered the V Corps’ reserve divisions, the 1st and 42d, to follow close behind the lead divisions. If the 2d or 89th Division attacks stalled, the reserve divisions would maintain the tempo of the operation by passing through the forward units and resuming the attack.


SOURCE: U.S. Army Campaigns World War 1; United States Army Center of Military History
CONTRIBUTOR: Cade Pommeraan

World War One: Meuse-Argonne, Preparations

On 26 September 1918, the American First Army launched a massive attack between the Argonne Forest (Forêt d’Argonne) and the Meuse River northwest of the storied French town of Verdun. By the time that the Germans agreed to an armistice forty-seven days later, the Meuse-Argonne Campaign would gain the distinction of being the largest and most costly military operation in American history. Over a million American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, as well as 135,000 French soldiers, participated in the offensive. Although the First Army had committed to this battle long before most of its doughboys had mastered the skills required to fight a mass industrialized war, the Americans persevered and gradually ground down the German units opposing them. Unfortunately, this approach came at a high price: 26,277 men killed and another 95,786 wounded as the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) learned how to wage a modern war against a skilled opponent. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the most important American military contribution to the Allied effort during the war. The AEF’s hard-won victory materially contributed to the collapse of the German Army and achieved President Woodrow Wilson’s strategic goal of securing for the United States a major role in crafting the peace that followed the Armistice.

The German Army in the Meuse-Argonne Region
By the time the Americans began their attack in the Meuse-Argonne, their German foes had occupied the region for four years. The area had been the scene of fierce fighting in 1914 and 1915, and the Germans used the region as the staging area for their attack on Verdun in 1916. To that end, the Germans had constructed fortifications and artillery shelters throughout the sector, and built a light rail line and other logistics nodes to support their operations in the region. After suffering an unsustainable rate of loss during the fighting at Verdun and the Somme, in September 1916 Ludendorff ordered a review of German defensive tactics and the establishment of a new series of fortifications, collectively known as the Siegfried Stellung (or the Hindenburg Line to the Allies), along the Western Front. The new German doctrine used a defense in depth to husband Germany’s declining manpower resources and to counter the growing effectiveness of Allied artillery and offensive tactics. The Germans planned to use skillfully sited field fortifications and interlocking defensive firepower to exhaust Allied attacks and serve as a base for timely, powerful counterattacks that would prevent the Allies from gaining any major foothold.

Although the Germans had dedicated less effort to engineering the defenses in the Meuse-Argonne than they had on the western sectors of the Hindenburg Line, nature provided them with ample defensive advantages to compensate for this shortfall. The western boundary of the U.S. First Army’s sector encompassed most of the Argonne Forest. The forest itself sat on a plateau bounded by the Aisne and Aire rivers. The Argonne was crisscrossed by a range of hills and draws running in a generally east-west direction; these features, along with dense vegetation, presented grave challenges to the mobility, command and control, and artillery support of the American attackers. To the east of the Argonne was the valley of the Aire River—a natural movement corridor for the Americans, but one dominated on the west by the hills of the Argonne and on the east by the large buttes of Montfaucon and Vauquois and other heights. The center of the American sector was the Barrois Plateau, a series of hills and highlands that started in the south at Montfaucon, ran to the northeast to Romagne-sous-Montfaucon and Cunel, and ended at the Barricourt Heights. East of the Barrois Plateau was the Meuse River valley, another natural movement corridor flanked by high ground on both banks. As Lt. General Hunter Liggett, commander of the U.S. I Army Corps, mused, “The region was a natural fortress beside which the Virginia Wilderness in which Grant and Lee fought was a park.”

To this “natural fortress,” the Germans added their own skills at defense to present the Americans with a formidable set of obstacles to overcome. Within the sector, the Germans had constructed four major defensive belts arrayed over a depth of fifteen to twenty-four kilometers. Most of their engineering efforts had gone into strengthening the third position, composed of two lateral sections of the Hindenburg Line, the Brunhild Stellung and the Kriemhilde Stellung. In the area of the main American advance, the line ran from Grandpré on the west across the heights of Côte Dame Marie, Romagne, and Cunel, to Brieulles on the Meuse. It consisted of warrens of concrete-reinforced shelters and machine gun nests, earthen strong points, and support and communications trenches. These defensive positions made adroit use of terrain and barbed-wire belts to canalize attackers into a web of interlocking machine gun fields of fire and preplanned artillery targets. The other belts in the sector followed a similar design but made less use of hardened fortifications.

The German high command had split the defense of the Meuse-Argonne region between the Third Army under General Karl von Einem and the Fifth Army under General Georg von der Marwitz. Each reported to different army group commanders, which would hamper German unity of command and effort in the opening days of the American offensive. The German Third Army was responsible for the Argonne Forest and the area running west into the French Fourth Army’s sector, while the German Fifth Army’s area of operation extended from the Aire Valley to east of St. Mihiel. The Third Army’s Group Aisne placed the 76th Reserve Division on the extreme left of the American sector, while the Group Argonne had the 2d Landwehr Division and the 1st Guards Division in line. The corps was responsible for the defense of the Argonne Forest and the area around Varennes. Although the Landwehr units had been stripped of most of their youngest troops to fill the ranks of the assault divisions for Ludendorff’s Spring Offensives, they had been stationed in the Argonne since September 1914 and early 1915 and were well acquainted with the terrain that they would defend. The 1st Guards Division, meanwhile, was an elite unit, but it had been worn down by four years of fighting and by being actively engaged in operations since March 1918.

The Fifth Army’s Group Meuse West placed the 117th Division and the 7th Reserve Division in the line facing the Americans. The AEF rated both of these as second-class divisions, and the 117th was still recovering from the heavy losses it had suffered at the Battle of Amiens in early August. When it became clear to the German high command that a major Franco-American attack was looming in the Argonne region, it sent two more divisions, the 5th Guards and the 5th Bavarian Reserve, to reinforce the sector. The 5th Guards was an excellent but battered unit that had seen action against the American 2d Division north of Château-Thierry in June. The 5th Bavarian Reserve Division had been spared much of the fighting in 1918, but the AEF still considered it to be only a second-class unit.

Although all of the German divisions that the U.S. First Army would face in the opening days of the Meuse-Argonne were understrength, tattered, and tired, their core of experienced veterans and leaders intended to make the Americans pay heavily for the ground that the Kaiser’s army defended. They also had a massive array of firepower. When the German 123d Infantry Division entered the Meuse-Argonne sector at Cunel on 11 October 1918, it had been hammered by fighting the Americans at St. Mihiel and was down to only 89 officers and 1,705 men. However, the division could still field 198 heavy and light machine guns—one gun for every nine soldiers. The German defenders of the Meuse-Argonne were likewise well provided with artillery, leading one doughboy to bitterly note that it seemed as if “every goddamn German there who didn’t have a machine gun had a cannon.” Given the daunting terrain and determined enemy in the Meuse-Argonne, the doughboys would face a rough fight.

The First Army Plans the Campaign
Pershing’s insistence on conducting the St. Mihiel Offensive while preparing for the Meuse-Argonne Campaign gave the AEF and the First Army’s staff only twenty-three days to plan and organize the largest military operation in American history. The AEF was fortunate to draw on the talents of Brig. Gen. Fox Conner, Col. Walter S. Grant, and Lt. Col. George C. Marshall for this monumental task. The most important challenge was moving and staging the massive number of troops required for the operation and for relieving the French forces operating in the sector. The relief in place of the French Second Army by the U.S. First Army would be a complex ballet that would move 220,000 soldiers out of the front while simultaneously deploying over 600,000 soldiers and 3,823 artillery pieces to the sector. To further complicate matters, some units earmarked for the start of the Argonne drive were already committed to the St. Mihiel operation and had to start moving out of the salient before that battle had concluded.

The mass armies of the First World War required extensive logistical support to operate in the field, especially when conducting major offensives. The size of the AEF’s logistics command, the Services of Supply (SOS), dwarfed all previous American military logistics efforts. By the Armistice, the SOS contained 546,596 soldiers, more men than were in the combined armies of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee in 1864. Despite the phenomenal growth of the SOS, the Supreme War Council’s decision to give priority to shipping infantry and machine gun units to France in the spring of 1918 meant that the SOS was still short of the men and special units it needed to properly execute its missions. The AEF’s logisticians persevered against great odds to establish nineteen railheads; thirty-four evacuation hospitals; and fifty-six ordnance, quartermaster, ammunition, petroleum, gas warfare, and engineer depots to supply the Meuse-Argonne drive. In the seventeen days before the offensive began, the SOS also pre-positioned 40,000 tons of shells to support the first five days of artillery fire.

The First Army’s operational plan was ambitious. Pershing envisioned that the American offensive would occur in four. In the first phase, three American corps would attack on a thirty-kilometer front stretching from the Argonne Forest to the Meuse River. On the first day of the battle, 26 September, these corps would drive sixteen kilometers through the first three German defensive belts. After breaking through the enemy’s main defenses, the Americans would reconnect with the other arm of the Franco-American offensive, the French Fourth Army, north of the Argonne Forest at Grandpré. Pershing’s decision to devote most of his veteran divisions to the St. Mihiel Offensive meant that five of the nine divisions slated for the Meuse-Argonne’s initial assault had little to no previous exposure to combat. Right from the outset, Pershing expected a great deal from his inexperienced soldiers.

The First Army anticipated that the second phase of the operation would begin on 27 September with another sixteen kilometer drive to push the Germans back beyond the line of Stenay to Le Chesne. In the third phase, the French XVII Corps, under American command, would attack east of the Meuse River to clear the Heights of the Meuse and protect the right flank of the First Army’s drive north. The last phase of the operation would carry the combined Franco-American attack to the rail heads of Sedan and Mézières.

During the first phase, General Liggett’s I Corps would attack down the Aire Valley on the army’s left flank. Working with units from the French Fourth Army, the I Corps would clear the Argonne Forest. In the center, Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron’s V Corps would seize Montfaucon and the other heights of the Barrois Plateau. On the right, Maj. Gen. Robert L. Bullard would push the III Corps through the valley of the Meuse and rout the Germans from their sector up to the town of Brieulles-sur-Meuse. In carrying out this phase, the V Corps faced the most difficult tactical challenges. The German defenses on Montfaucon loomed above the corps’ front and had withstood several French attacks in 1914 and 1915. To make matters worse, Cameron would have to rely on three green units, the 91st, 37th, and 79th Divisions, to storm the high ground in his sector. The First Army planners recognized the V Corps’ dilemma and gambled that the rapid advance of the I and III Corps on Cameron’s flanks would turn the Germans out of their defenses on the Barrois Plateau and thus aid the V Corps’ advance. To help its corps accomplish their missions, the First Army dedicated 419 tanks to support the 26 September attacks. Lt. Col. George S. Patton Jr.’s 1st U.S. Tank Brigade, with 127 American crewed Renault FT light tanks reinforced with twenty-eight French-crewed Schneider tanks, was directed to support the 35th Division in the I Corps’ sector. The First Army also assigned 250 French-crewed tanks to the 3d U.S. Tank Brigade to assist


SOURCE: U.S Army Campaigns of World War I (United States Army Center of Military History)
CONTRIBUTOR: Cade Pommeraan

World War One: St. Mihiel Salient (U.S. First Army)

On 21 July, Pershing conferred with Foch and Pétain at Bombon, the site of Foch’s headquarters, and proposed forming an independent American army with responsibility for part of the Allied line. Foch approved, based on the expectation that as soon as it was formed, the American First Army would relieve the French Sixth Army north of Château-Thierry. On 24 July, the AEF General Headquarters (GHQ) issued the orders that formally announced the organization of the First Army, effective on 10 August, with an order of battle that included the I and III Corps headquarters and the 3d, 4th, 26th, 28th, 32d, and 42d Divisions.

In addition to specifying an initial order of battle, the orders also assigned key personnel to the First Army staff. Pershing took on the position of commanding general while he maintained his role as AEF commander. Col. Hugh A. Drum, who had been quietly developing the plans for forming the First Army since the beginning of the month, became the chief of staff. With Pershing dividing his time between headquarters, it would fall to Drum to direct the planning and preparation for the First Army’s initial major operations. Other members of the primary staff included Col. Robert McCleave as the assistant chief of the general staff for operations, or “G–3.” McCleave had worked well as the assistant to Brig. General Fox Conner, the GHQ operations officer. Pershing later assigned Lt. Col. Walter S. Grant to the G–3 section, and appointed Col. William L. “Billy” Mitchell as chief of the First Army’s air arm, the First Army Air Service. As the staff came together, American maneuver units prepared to function as an independent national force, although they still needed heavy Allied support, particularly from French aviation, artillery, and tank units.

With the First Army becoming a reality, Pershing immediately began looking for a location for its first combat operation. The most promising was the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient in Lorraine. Fortunately, this idea aligned with Foch’s plan for the Allies to maintain the initiative on the Western Front. With operations already underway to eliminate the Marne salient, on 24 July Foch announced a plan to conduct operations against several other German salients in the coming months. The goal was to straighten the front and secure vital rail lines for a general Allied offensive in 1919. When Pershing requested the mission of reducing the St. Mihiel salient, Foch readily agreed, but the generalissimo could not set a date for its start until the Allies successfully concluded the ongoing Aisne-Marne Offensive. When operations along the Vesle River stabilized on 6 August, Pershing decided to concentrate the units that would constitute the First Army in the St. Mihiel area rather than on the Vesle, and forgo the planned relief of the French Sixth Army. Foch concurred, and directed Pershing and Pétain to develop the necessary plans to reflect the change. The two commanders agreed that three or four American divisions would remain on the Vesle, but shifted all the other combat-ready ones to form the First Army in the Woëvre Plain region in preparation for the St. Mihiel operation. The stage was now set for the Americans to take their place as an independent force on the Western Front. 

The Salient and Its Defenses

Reducing the St. Mihiel salient was a natural choice for employing the First Army in a dramatic and decisive action. Created during the initial German invasion of 1914, the salient had withstood multiple French efforts to regain the territory and remained an impediment to Allied operations in the sector.

Pershing optimistically believed that in reducing the salient, the First Army might continue the attack northeastward toward the city of Metz. Such an advance would threaten not only the strategic Briey Iron Basin, a key to German war production, but also the lateral rail network that ran through the city and the nearby Saar coal fields. Perhaps most important, Pershing thought that a successful attack would validate the decision to create an independent American army and convince the British and French to recognize the Americans as equal partners in the war effort.

Twenty-five kilometers at its deepest, the V-shaped salient occupied roughly three hundred square kilometers, with its base running between Pont-à-Mousson along the Moselle River and the town of Haudiomont to the northwest. The village of St. Mihiel was located near its tip, astride the Meuse River. Along the western side of the salient, the wooded heights of the Meuse dominated the terrain, while lesser hills, forests, and a 380-meter camel hump elevation called Montsec highlighted the southern edge. The Woëvre Plain constituted a large portion of the remaining ground within the salient. Although the low area of the plain was a natural avenue of approach for an advancing army, the September rainy season threatened to make the terrain swampy and possibly impassable to wheeled-vehicle traffic. The Germans had the advantage of occupying the highest ground in most of the area along the salient front, on which they had constructed strong defensive positions supplemented by vast stretches of barbed wire.

The German high command recognized that the St. Mihiel salient was the most likely target of the imminent American attack. In September, the German defense consisted of eight full divisions and two separate brigades along the forward face of the salient. The force, known collectively as Army Detachment C, was under the command of Lt. General Georg Fuchs, who had a reputation among the Allies as a clever and capable leader. The Gorz Group, which consisted of the 77th and 10th Divisions of the I Bavarian Corps, held the German left flank. The Mihiel Group, made up of the 5th Landwehr Division and the 31st Division, also of the I Bavarian Corps, held the forward tip of the salient. As the time for the offensive grew near, however, the 192d Division began to replace the 31st Division in the forward area. The Combres Group, consisting of the 35th Austro-Hungarian and the 8th and 13th Landwehr Divisions, held the German right flank. Outside of Fuchs’ direct tactical control, the Metz Group, with the 255th Division and the 84th and 31st Landwehr Brigades, held positions in the area of the Moselle River to the left of the Gorz Group. The Metz Group also exercised control of the 195th Saxon and 123d Divisions, positioned farther to the rear in reserve.

Although the number of units looked impressive on paper, the German forces were actually understrength and war-weary. Furthermore, compared to the 28,000-man American divisions they would face, even full-strength German divisions averaged less than 15,000 troops. Ascertaining reliable figures on German forces in and around the salient proved difficult, as estimates of actual German strength ranged between 50,000 and 100,000 men.

The Landwehr divisions, in many cases composed of older men between the ages of thirty-seven and forty-five, had been organized primarily to hold static positions, and demonstrated little initiative or aggressiveness. Fuchs considered the 10th Division, which had been in combat during the recent Somme and Aisne offensives, as his only fully reliable formation.

The German defenses within the salient were heavy and elaborate, consisting of three zones. The rear position, known as the Michel Line, ran along the base of the salient and included that sector’s portion of the Hindenburg Line. The forward position, called the Wilhelm Line, was an eight-kilometer-deep defensive zone running from Pont-à-Mousson in the east to the town of St. Mihiel itself, a distance of about sixty-five kilometers, then northward up the heights of the Meuse to Grimaucourt, just southeast of Verdun. The third zone, known as the Schroeter Line, made up the interior sector of the Wilhelm Line. Still unclear as to the size of the force being assembled against them, Fuchs announced to his forces that preparations for an attack against the salient were underway, and declared, “Composite Army C will prepare to repulse these attacks.”

Although the Germans had defended the salient against French attacks since late 1914, they had few illusions regarding the security of the position. Its wedge shape made it highly vulnerable to a pincer attack. Allied successes in the north also indicated that the static nature of positional warfare no longer defined tactical realities on the Western Front. Moreover, the Germans needed to conserve manpower in the light of their losses earlier in the year, requiring them to shorten the line wherever possible. As early as June 1918, the high command began work on a planned troop withdrawal from the salient, code-named Loki. So long as the sector remained quiet, they would hold their current positions, but as soon as they detected a major Allied assault in the offing, the defenders would withdraw to the shorter, more defensible Michel position across the base of the salient to make their stand.

Planning the Attack

For the Americans, much of the initial responsibility for developing the plan to reduce the salient fell on Colonel Conner and his GHQ staff, as the First Army planning staff was just starting to assemble. One of his key subordinates was Lt. Col. George C. Marshall, who until 24 July had been the operations officer for the 1st Division. Marshall had already developed a reputation throughout the AEF as an outstanding planner; he also knew the St. Mihiel area from his early days in France, when the 1st Division had been stationed there as part of its introduction to combat. Conner and Marshall worked closely with McCleave, the First Army G–3, to develop a plan for the upcoming operation.

Throughout August, both the GHQ and First Army staffs wrestled with their complex assignment. The buildup for the St. Mihiel attack involved over half a million Americans and 110,000 Frenchmen. Supporting the attack would require some 3,000 guns, 200,000 tons of supplies, and 50,000 tons of ammunition. Some of the men and equipment were already in position, but most would have to be transported into the area. The staff officers needed to prepare detailed march tables to make the best use of the available roads. While part of the staff worked on those problems, others planned the battle, figuring how many units should be employed in which sectors to attain specific objectives.

At the request of the Allies, the Americans had focused on shipping infantry and machine gun battalions to Europe, leaving the First Army well short of the artillery, aircraft, and support units it would need to execute the attack. Pershing spent considerable time in negotiations with Foch, who was named Marshal of France on 6 August, to arrange French support for the attack. As the plans proceeded, the French provided transportation for almost all troop and supply movements. The French also were particularly generous with air support and placed a number of aircraft under Pershing’s command for the operation. Finally, Foch agreed to provide one French corps to conduct a supporting attack.

On 30 August, Pershing and the First Army officially assumed responsibility for the St. Mihiel sector. As the staff worked at their headquarters at Ligny-en-Barrois, Foch arrived unexpectedly and threw the process into disorder by announcing a new mission for the First Army. Since their meeting at Bombon, the Allies had not only successfully concluded the Aisne-Marne Offensive, but had launched three others. One at Amiens began on 8 August, another on the Oise-Aisne front started on 18 August, and the last opened in the Ypres-Lys region the next day. All achieved marked success.

With the reduction of these salients, Foch began formulating a more ambitious plan for operations on the Western Front for the remainder of the year; one which no longer necessarily included the attack at St. Mihiel. After consulting with Britain’s Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the generalissimo postulated that the entire German position in France and Belgium represented a large salient, and advocated a massive pincer attack with the British advancing toward Cambrai while the French drove toward Mézières. Concurrent secondary attacks along the Western Front would prevent the Germans from shifting forces from quiet sectors to reinforce threatened areas of the line. The Germans, he believed, could not be strong everywhere at once.

To support this new plan, Foch wanted the Americans to operate on the French right flank, driving north into the area bounded by the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. Instead of acting under the command of the U.S. First Army, most American divisions would serve as reinforcements for the French Second and Fourth Armies. Foch’s plan minimized the attack through St. Mihiel, which he now believed of limited necessity, and eliminated the drive on Metz that Pershing desired. Not surprisingly, the American commander opposed the new plan. Not only did it diminish the operation that Pershing and his staff were working feverishly to carry off, but it also threatened to break up the newly formed First Army and place American units once again under Allied control. In the long and acrimonious meeting, Foch pushed his plan while Pershing refused to abandon his goal of keeping the American army independent. Finally, the exasperated Foch demanded, “Do you wish to take part in the battle?” Pershing sternly replied, “Most assuredly, but as an American Army and in no other way.”

Three days later, on 2 September, Pershing and Pétain met Foch at the latter’s headquarters to seek some resolution. Foch agreed to postpone the grand offensive until 25 September if the Americans agreed to participate. Under the new plan, the First Army would take part in the attack by operating in the Meuse-Argonne region. In return, Pershing agreed to curtail the St. Mihiel Offensive, scheduled to begin the second week of September. The operation would commence on or near 10 September against the southern and western faces of the salient, with limited objectives and duration. Instead of driving on Metz, the First Army would have three or four days to advance to the Vigneulles–Thiaucourt–Regniéville line. Once achieved, Pershing would shift the First Army’s primary operational area to the Meuse-Argonne sector.

All available American divisions would concentrate for an attack on 20–25 September in what would become known as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Although Foch had misgivings regarding the Americans’ ability to conduct two major attacks in such a truncated timeframe, he agreed to the plan.

The scale and difficulty of the tasks to which Pershing committed the First Army is hard to overstate. This revised plan required the Americans to conduct the attack at St. Mihiel while also preparing for an even larger operation to commence in two weeks’ time. The First Army would need to move most of its forces over ninety-five kilometers north, and in order to be in position to attack at Meuse-Argonne, some of them would need to begin moving before the St. Mihiel operation was completed. As Pershing later noted in his memoirs, “We had undertaken to launch with practically the same army, within the next twenty-four days, two great attacks on battlefields sixty miles apart.” Pershing’s insistence on conducting the St. Mihiel operation also meant that the First Army would be limited in which forces it could use at the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne. Having committed many of the most experienced and highly trained divisions to St. Mihiel, it would take time to reassign these units to Foch’s grand offensive. Consequently, the AEF would use its best units in a limited but significant operation at St. Mihiel, and employ less proven units to initiate a much larger offensive in terms of numbers committed and objectives.

After Pershing and Foch reached their agreement, the GHQ and First Army staffs set to work revising their plans and developing new timetables. Colonel Drum later noted that from this point onward the two operations “should not be looked upon as separate and distinct,” but rather as interdependent.” The First Army planning staff effectively stopped working on St. Mihiel and began developing the Meuse-Argonne operation. This left Conner’s GHQ G–3 staff with the job of overseeing the final preparations for the St. Mihiel attack. The new limited objectives required some changes in the direction of the assault but no major reshuffling of units. The First Army had grown considerably by the end of August, so that Pershing now had three American army corps and one French corps under his command. The offensive required two simultaneous attacks by the Americans, one against the western face of the salient and the other through the rolling farmland and pockets of woods between the Moselle River and Montsec. Between the two American attacks, a French corps would attack the tip of the salient, and exploit the success of the units on its flanks.

To better coordinate the attack with all units operating on the same schedule, the First Army planners developed a simple control measure. They designated the date on which an operation would begin as “D-day,” and the time as “H-hour.” The means of measuring time before and after the designated start date or hour used the minus (−) or plus (+) signs, respectively. Therefore, the day before D-day would be written as “D−1,” and two hours before H-hour would be expressed as “H−2.” Conversely, the day after the operation began would become “D+1,” and two hours past the start time as “H+2.”

These control measures appeared for the first time in American military history on the First Army order for the St. Mihiel Offensive. The Americans planned to attack on two converging axes that would meet to cut off the salient. The main attack would advance into the salient from the south with two American corps.

The I Corps, commanded by General Liggett, would be on the easternmost corner along the southern side of the salient from Pont-à-Mousson on the east to Limey on the west. The corps’ four divisions, the 82d, 90th, 5th, and 2d, arrayed respectively from right to left, or east to west, with the 78th Division in reserve. The 82d Division would hold the shoulder as the rest of the corps attacked to the northwest toward the village of Thiaucourt, and would continue on that axis to pinch off the base of the salient.

The IV Army Corps, under Major General Joseph T. Dickman, held the line from Limey west to Xivray-et-Marvoisin and would array its subordinate units, the 89th, 42d, and 1st Divisions, from east to west respectively, while keeping the 3d Division in reserve. Initially, the IV Corps would protect the left flank of the advancing I Corps, then wheel to the west to contain German forces attempting to retreat from the forward portion of the salient.

The French II Colonial Corps, composed of the French 39th and 26th Infantry Divisions and 2d Dismounted Cavalry Division (DCP), would support the principal drive from the south by holding the attention of the maximum number of enemy troops at the tip of the salient between Xivray-et-Marvoisin and Mouilly. Major General George H. Cameron’s V Army Corps would begin the attack against the salient’s western face from Mouilly to Watronville with the American 26th and 4th Divisions along with the French 15th Colonial Division (DIC). In this corps’ sector, the 26th Division would advance deep into enemy-held territory toward the village of Vigneulles, and then drive southeast to link up with advancing IV Corps units and trap German forces in the point of the salient. The French 15th DIC and the 8th Infantry Brigade of the U.S. 4th Division would conduct supporting attacks, while the corps held the rest of the 4th Division in reserve. Pershing retained the 35th, 80th, and 91st Divisions as the First Army’s reserve.

 Coordinating the Supporting Arms

Artillery was the most important of the supporting arms, but also one of the most time-consuming to train properly. Therefore, field artillery brigades in the AEF trained on a separate schedule, and consequently they took longer to achieve combat readiness than the infantry they supported. However, Pershing’s decision to utilize his most experienced divisions at St. Mihiel meant that all but one of his frontline units would go on the attack with the support of their own artillery. Only the 90th Division would fight without its organic artillery brigade, which was still in training and would not be ready for action for several months. In its place, the 78th Division’s 153d Field Artillery Brigade and 303d Ammunition Train would support the 90th Division during the operation.

As the battle plans neared completion, the duration of the preliminary artillery bombardment became an issue of concern. Pershing felt that utilizing a multiday preparatory artillery barrage—as the Allies had done in previous years—would eliminate any chance of surprise and allow the enemy to plan counterstrokes. He therefore decided to allow only enough of an artillery preparation to encourage and embolden the attacking troops while disrupting the enemy, denying the Germans time to either withdraw or commit large numbers of reserves. A shorter bombardment would be particularly important in the event of rain, where prolonged shelling would turn the wet ground into an impassable morass. After lengthy consultations with his staff, Pershing allotted a period of no longer than four hours for the pre-attack artillery fires.

To be effective, the preparatory fires had to be intense. Realizing that the First Army needed additional fire support, Foch provided Pershing units from various French armies and the artillery reserve. In some cases the American divisions received double or even triple their standard allotment of artillery. To further increase the number of guns available, Pershing approved shifting the 58th Field Artillery Brigade from the 33d Division and the 76th Field Artillery from the 3d Division to support the 1st Division’s attack on the center of the salient’s southern edge. The concentration of firepower was the largest in American history to that point. As the First Army prepared for its advance, hundreds of artillery batteries, from the fast and mobile 75-mm. guns to massive 400-mm. railway cannon, stood ready to fire.

In addition to infantry and artillery, the Americans would also employ units from the service’s newer branches on an unprecedented scale. St. Mihiel provided an introduction to combat for several elements of the AEF’s fledgling Tank Corps. Brig. General Samuel D. Rockenback, commander of all AEF tank units and training centers, assigned Lt. Col. George S. Patton Jr. and the Tank Corps’ 304th Brigade to the First Army for the operation. The brigade consisted of the 326th and 327th Battalions, commanded by Captains Sereno Brett and Ronulf Compton, respectively. Each battalion included seventy-seven French-built light Renault FT tanks. Rockenback also wanted to assign the Tank Corps’ 301st Battalion, equipped with forty-five British-built Mark V models, but it would not complete training in England in time. To increase the number of tanks in the First Army, the French also assigned the 1st Assault Artillery Brigade to the operation. It included the 13th, 14th, and 15th Battalions equipped with 225 Renault FTs, two battalions of the 505th Mobile Artillery Regiment with twenty-four Schneider CA1 medium tanks, and one battalion of the 11th Groupment of Mobile Artillery with twelve Saint-Chamond heavy tanks.

The tanks utilized in the St. Mihiel operation varied in size and capabilities. The Renault FT had a two-man crew and was five meters in length and about two meters in height. It weighed six-and-a-half tons, could travel at a speed of eight kilometers per hour, and held either a 37-mm. Puteaux SA 18 gun or 8-mm. M1914 Hotchkiss machine gun in its cramped turret. The somewhat box-shaped Schneider CA1 had a crew of six. Weighing thirteen and-a-half tons, it stood over two meters in height and six meters in length, and could reach a speed of almost thirteen kilometers per hour. For armament, the Schneider had a short-barreled 75-mm. blockhouse gun and two Hotchkiss machine guns. In contrast to the Renault and Schneider, the Saint-Chamond was a behemoth. Served by as many as eleven men, it measured roughly eight meters in length, stood two-and-a-half meters in height, and moved at eleven kilometers per hour. For armament, it carried four Hotchkiss machine guns and an M1897 75-mm. gun. Understandably, given its pointed bow, large size, and heavy firepower, many soldiers described the Saint-Chamond as a “land battleship.”

All of the American and some of the French tank units were committed to support the IV Corps. Patton assigned Compton’s 327th Tank Battalion, minus twenty-five Renaults held in brigade reserve, to support the 42d Division. To make up for the Renaults in reserve, the French augmented the battalion with six Saint-Chamond and twelve Schneider tanks. Brett’s 326th Tank Battalion, meanwhile, supported the 1st Division, which was the only American division that had worked closely with the new machines.

The plan alerted infantry commanders to expect to see tanks in their sectors, but directed the infantry not to follow the tanks unless they were sure that both they and the tanks were heading in the same direction. As Patton planned it, the brigade would attack across the 1st and 42d Division fronts in three groups. The 326th, supported by the brigade reserve, would advance on the left, cross the Rupt de Mad creek, and lead the 1st Division to its objectives. The French heavy tanks would follow the infantry in the center. On the right, the 327th initially would follow the infantry, then pass through their lines and lead the 42d Division to its objectives at the villages of Essey-et-Maizerais and Pannes. As with their commitment of artillery, the Americans and the French intended to use mass to overcome the German defenders.

Finally, the First Army would receive strong support from Allied air units, with French, British, and Italian elements all participating in the operation. The First Army Air Service contributed twelve pursuit, ten observation, three day bombardment, and one night bombardment squadrons. Added to these were twelve observation, four pursuit, and two night bombardment squadrons from the French as well as three night bombardment squadrons from the Italians.

The French also provided an aerial division of two brigades that contained a total of twenty-four combat (pursuit) squadrons, fifteen bombardment squadrons, and two protection (bomber escort) squadrons. Rounding out the forces were eight night bombardment squadrons from the British, who operated as an independent force but coordinated their activities with the Air Service. With a total of 1,481 aircraft, including 366 observation airplanes, 323 day bombers, 91 night bombers, and 701 pursuit aircraft, the St. Mihiel Offensive was the largest assembly of aviation assets committed to a single operation to that date. In addition, the First Army employed fifteen U.S. and six French balloon companies.

The U.S. units accounted for about 40 percent of the total, with the French providing most of the rest. American forces consisted of primarily Spad XIII pursuit aircraft; Salmson 2–A2, DeHavilland 4 (DH–4), and Breguet 14 A.2 observation planes; and Breguet 14 B.2 day bombers. Colonel Mitchell, chief of the First Army Air Service, was concerned that many of the American units had only recently been formed and lacked combat experience. To overcome these deficiencies, he tried to group together his more experienced squadrons with those new to the battlefield, or to put veteran pilots in charge of green units. Yet the lack of battle-hardened officers and units meant that many American pilots would gain their first taste of combat operations over the skies of St. Mihiel.

Planning the air component of the St. Mihiel attack fell primarily to Mitchell and his staff. Although the head of the AEF Air Service, Major General Mason M. Patrick, reviewed the plans and reported them to General Pershing, both senior leaders gave Mitchell and his staff broad discretion. With the support of his superiors, Mitchell developed a campaign plan to control the skies over the battlefield, spelled out in a detailed memorandum issued on 20 August. It identified the “general mission of aviation” to “absolutely prevent access to our lines by enemy reconnaissance aviation,” and to “secure complete information about hostile formation[s].” Mitchell noted in his memoirs: “Air forces are the eyes of the army, and without their accurate reports, ground forces cannot operate.” He recognized that the air above the battlefield was a new medium, offering a wide scope for action, and that controlling this medium was essential to the successful employment of combat forces on the ground.

Prior to the operation, intelligence estimates of German air forces in the sector ranged between 213 and 295 aircraft, but Mitchell believed that they could mass upward of a thousand planes in the area within three days of the start of the battle. He therefore anticipated having “a preponderance in the air for at least two days before the Germans could concentrate [their forces].” With this small window, Mitchell organized his forces to dominate the skies. Over half of his planes would attack the enemy and deny reconnaissance by shooting down observation planes flying over the lines and “busting” enemy observation balloons. Initially, Mitchell intended to rely on the French Aerial Division, which he directed to alternate striking each side of the salient with a full brigade, maintaining constant pressure on German air and ground units. If the Germans responded to these attacks in force, Mitchell would be ready. He organized most American attack elements in the First Pursuit Wing, commanded by Major Bert M. Atkinson. It included two pursuit groups and a day bombardment group, and would counter German efforts to control any part of the battlefield. In this manner Mitchell looked to maximize his combat power during the battle’s crucial first days.

Mitchell organized the remainder of his forces to serve as direct-support for the ground units. The largest formation, the Corps Observation Wing under the command of Major Lewis H. Brereton, contained three American air groups and one French group, each assigned to one of the four corps involved in the operation.

Although Mitchell maintained overall control over these units, they took their operational directions from their respective corps headquarters. This ensured that each corps, and in practice each attacking division, had a dedicated air element providing direct support. Their principal duties were to provide observation for attacking infantry and spotting for supporting artillery, through the use of either reconnaissance aircraft or observation balloons. In addition to these units, Mitchell had at his disposal the First Army Observation Group, made up of American aircraft under the direction of First Army Headquarters; an Army Artillery Observation Group composed of mostly French units spotting for the First Army’s artillery; a French Night Bombardment Group that included the Italian units; and five squadrons of pursuit aircraft organized into 1st Pursuit Group, which roamed the battlefield protecting reconnaissance aircraft and attacking German ground forces if the opportunity presented itself.

Mitchell codified his vision of the air campaign in an annex to the First Army’s Field Order No. 9, issued on 7 September, which laid out the operational plan for the St. Mihiel attack. It specified that air operations would consist of four phases. First was the early preparation phase, which lasted from the day the order was issued to the day before the attack. During this period, pursuit and bomber aircraft would carry out their normal activities so as not to alert the Germans to the impending operation, while observation squadrons gathered “all information necessary to the preparation of the attack, especially for the artillery preparation.”

The second phase covered the period between the beginning of the artillery preparation and the start of the infantry attack, during which Air Service bombardment and pursuit units set out to attack pre-arranged targets behind the lines and to clear the skies of enemy aircraft. These missions continued into the attack phase, covering Mitchell’s two-day window, with the added mission of attacking enemy “troops, trains and important targets on the ground.” The orders specifically called on pursuit units to “attack with bombs and machine guns, either enemy reinforcements marching to the attack, or enemy elements retreating.” Once the two-day window closed, the Air Service would move into the exploitation phase, continuing the attack based on “the necessities of the moment.” With the plan in place, the Air Service set about making final preparations. Mitchell would have to wait to see if his untested force could achieve his ambitious plan. Unfortunately, despite his efforts to control every aspect of the upcoming operation, Mitchell could not account for the weather, which would make its own mark on the battle.

 Deception Plans

As the American operational plan came together and the troops began moving, rumors of the impending attack began to spread. Even though it was impossible to hide the offensive from the Germans, the Americans went to great lengths to conceal the exact time and location of their attack. Using borrowed French radios in the area around the Belfort Gap, American operators set up a decoy communications network over which they sent thousands of coded messages for the benefit of German monitoring stations. To make the fictitious transmissions more credible, they included the assorted slang and profanity that Germans had come to associate with American signal soldiers. German intelligence interpreted the increased message traffic and concluded that they had located the presence of a new American corps in the area.

To further deceive the Germans that the American attack would take place through the Belfort Gap, General Conner, the AEF operations officer, created an elaborate ruse. He gave Major General Omar Bundy, commanding general of the VI Army Corps, detailed plans for a fictitious offensive leading out of Belfort in the direction of the heights to the southeast. The letter of instructions mentioned seven divisions as having been designated for the attack, and directed the general to proceed to Belfort with his staff and representatives from each of the divisions to begin planning and to conduct initial reconnaissance. One of Conner’s assistants, Major Arthur L. Conger, checked into an expensive hotel in Belfort and “accidentally” left a piece of crumpled carbon paper identifying plans for the coming attack in the wastepaper basket. Knowing the hotel to be a virtual den of German espionage agents, Conger was pleased to find that the carbon paper disappeared shortly after he planted it. The ruse was effective, at least to a point. Although the Germans wisely considered an operation to clear the Belfort Gap a foolish idea, they could not completely discount the possibility that the Americans, whom they considered inexperienced amateurs, would try such a thing anyway. As a result, they evacuated villages in the nearby areas, reinforced defenses, and positioned additional artillery to defend the area.

 The Americans Attack

The First Army Field Order No. 9 set D-day for the operation as 12 September, with H-hour at 0500. In the days leading up to the attack, French night and British day and night bombers conducted routine missions in the attack sector. Hours before the attack, Allied bomber units launched more intense raids concentrating on a more detailed list of targets. The Allied bombers under Mitchell’s control hit the roads in the vicinity of the town of Vigneulles, targeting enemy transports and troops to impede German movements. To further block traffic, Allied units also bombed targets well behind the German lines, including the railroad yards and ammunition dump at Chambley-Bussières, and the road junction just to the south. Other Allied bombers struck munitions dumps at Gondrecourt-Aix, Valleroy, and St. Jean-lès-Buzy. At the same time, British bombers struck the railroad center, supply dumps, and the airfield near Mars-la-Tour, and the railroad yards at Metz. Immediately before the attack, the bombers shifted to medium-range targets to disrupt rail traffic and track repair at the Chambley-Bussières, Dommary-Baroncourt, and Longuyon railheads; the railroad yard and ammunition dump at Dommary-Baroncourt; and the Meuse River bridges between Verdun and Sedan. Allied air units also attacked German command posts and airfields throughout the salient.

Meanwhile on the ground, in order to preserve the element of surprise, nothing moved along the American line until after dusk on 11 September. Infantry and artillery units stood in the assembly areas concealed by woods some six kilometers behind the frontline positions. Soon after dark, everything started to move. Much to the chagrin of the doughboys, it also began to rain. A long column of American-manned Renault tanks rumbled along the roads. Batteries of artillery moved from their wooded concealment toward the Rambucourt-Flirey-Limey highway. Battalions of infantry trudged through the rain toward the front.

Both the artillery and the infantry were to bypass the more recently dug and sturdy mainline trenches, and instead take up positions amid a maze of older, unoccupied, mud-choked ones farther forward. As the artillery units usually arrived first, battery commanders discovered that other than occasional sentry posts, nothing stood between them and the Germans. They sent detachments of gunners forward to establish local security with skirmish lines that could protect the batteries from enemy patrols until the infantry was in place. Some units had difficulty reaching their assault positions. The 16th Infantry of the 1st Division, for example, later reported that its lead battalion got into position later than expected “owing to engineer guides going astray,” but was ready well before the time to attack. The steady rain continued throughout the night as Signal Corps wiremen ran telephone lines from the battalion positions back to regimental command posts. With all other preparations completed, infantry assault units lay on the wet ground between the inundated old trenches and waited for H-hour.

At precisely 0100, all of the Allied guns simultaneously opened a massive volley, as some 3,000 pieces commenced firing. Doughboys recalled that the intensely black night suddenly seemed to burst into a sheet of flame. Infantrymen who had occupied the trenches on previous occasions looked across to the German-held Montsec and wondered when the enemy guns would respond with deadly counterbattery fire. The hours seemed to drag on as the combat veterans among them who had patrolled no-man’s-land pondered what real effect the artillery would have on the well-prepared enemy positions they had often observed. The green troops, whether serving in the newer divisions or as replacements in older ones, waited apprehensively in the darkness and drenching rain, imagining what the day would bring. The engineer guides then led the doughboys through the maze of protective barbed wire to the line of departure, most often marked with white linen tape, to make it easier for the infantrymen to find their jumping-off place in the predawn darkness. The artillerymen continued firing salvos aimed primarily at the enemy’s artillery positions. Allied pursuit squadrons took to the sky to destroy hostile aviation and balloons throughout the zone of attack from five kilometers in front of the line of departure to as far as the line of exploitation, and on the flanks from eleven kilometers north of Pont-à-Mousson to as far as Étain to the west of Metz. With bombs and machine guns, low-flying air patrols attacked enemy reinforcements marching to counterattack as well as retreating defenders. Despite these efforts by the airmen, increasing rain and fog would severely hinder Allied air maneuvers for the first two days of the operation.

Although the Germans anticipated an attack, the opening bombardment still took them by surprise. They had begun preparations to evacuate the salient, removing some of their ammunition and supply stockpiles first and displacing artillery batteries to the rear, when it struck. General Fuchs had ordered two divisions to withdraw to a secondary line formerly occupied by artillery, but one of the commanders misinterpreted the instructions and left two-thirds of his infantry in its old positions with virtually no supporting artillery. Aerial strafing and bombing along with artillery shells created particular havoc among German units caught on the move. Teams of horses the Germans had brought in to extract the remaining forward artillery batteries were themselves unable to move. Withdrawal routes soon became blocked by craters and fallen trees, and littered with mutilated human bodies and horse carcasses. Movement ground to a halt in many places.

At 0500, the artillery changed the form of its fire. The heavy guns continued to suppress enemy batteries and machine guns, but the 75-mm. field guns of the divisional artillery began firing direct support for the infantry. Along the American line, company commanders watched as the first rounds of the protective rolling barrage hit the ground in front of them. They need not have even looked at their watches to know that H-hour had arrived. The men knew it as well, rising to their feet and shaking off the stiffness from waiting for hours in the rain on the soaked ground. As their officers signaled the advance, the doughboys crossed the line of departure at H-hour, with daylight still twenty minutes away. They moved forward under the protective curtain of fire that advanced one hundred meters toward the enemy trenches every four minutes.

The attack waves moved steadily forward until they reached the first belt of enemy barbed wire. Teams of infantrymen with wire cutters and engineers with explosive Bangalore torpedoes went forward to work on the obstacles. They quickly opened lanes that allowed their comrades to continue moving ahead.

After the American barrage passed over them, German artillerymen came out of their shelters, manned their guns, and opened fire. However, having stripped the forward defensive belt of much of its artillery, the remaining batteries had too few guns to seriously impede the determined advance. Still, the attackers encountered pockets of deadly resistance. Braving machine gun nests and rifle fire, the doughboys overran the forward enemy positions and pressed on behind the barrage to surround and capture the remaining batteries. As the Americans cleared the third line of the Wilhelm defense zone, they broke through the last strong line of resistance. The 1st Division reported that the enemy trench system was not difficult to pass, “having been greatly demolished by the rains and shell fire.” By 0900, the infantry along the southern front of the salient had advanced steadily, although they were slowed by the wet, mud-caked ground and the need to escort groups of German prisoners to the rear.

The IV Corps Advances

The IV Corps, operating at the center of the salient’s southern edge, provided the primary thrust of the opening attack. It also had the farthest to go and generally made good progress despite serious opposition in the last line of trenches located in the Quart de Réserve, a small wood of about one square mile midway between Seicheprey and Nonsard. The 42d Division, commanded by Major General Charles T. Menoher, “had been given the main effort,” as the New York Times later reported, and attacked in the direction of the heights overlooking the Madine creek to “deliver the main blow” of the corps. Made up of National Guard units from several states and the District of Columbia, the 42d or “Rainbow” Division formed the center of the corps. At that point in the war, it was one of the more experienced First Army units. The 1st Division, commanded by Major General Charles P. Summerall, advanced on the corps’ left flank. Composed of Regular Army units, the 1st Division—also known as the “Big Red One” for its shoulder sleeve insignia—had been the first American formation to deploy and see combat in France in 1917. Although as a unit it had more combat experience than any other division in the AEF, its ranks included many new replacements. Lastly, the 89th Division, commanded by Major General William M. Wright, advanced on the corps’ right. A National Army division, its enlisted ranks were filled mostly by men drafted from Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

In the Rainbow Division’s zone, its 83d and 84th Infantry Brigades advanced abreast with two regiments in line. In their assault formation, each regiment had two of its three infantry battalions in the first line with their companies forming two waves about twenty meters apart. Elements of the brigade’s machine gun battalion and attached trench mortar and 37-mm. gun units followed in support. To the rear of these followed the regiments’ third infantry battalions with their attached units. The supporting battalions were ready to reinforce those to their front or mop up any resistance that remained behind once the assault waves pressed forward.

The 83d Infantry Brigade advanced with the 166th and 165th Infantry on line, and breached what reports called the enemy’s “shell of defense” with “little difficulty.” The 1st Battalion of the 165th Infantry—formerly known as the “Fighting 69th” Regiment of New York—moved forward on the brigade’s right flank. Its commander, Lt. Col. William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan, knew that the Germans occupied good defensive positions and feared that his men would suffer frightful casualties once the enemy opened fire. He felt some relief when the German artillery did not respond with its characteristic fury. The barbed wire, which had everyone worried, also did not cause much of a problem.

Although present in great abundance, much of it was old and rusty, and the breaching teams quickly opened lanes through the obstacles. Except for some pockets of resistance, the advancing waves overwhelmed the defenders. Realizing that they had caught the Germans on the point of withdrawal, Donovan urged his men forward, and they took all of the battalion’s first-day objectives by 1400.

The entire 83d Brigade advanced eight kilometers and occupied the villages of Essey-et-Maizerais and Pannes against relatively light resistance. Local inhabitants were relieved to see their liberators after almost four years of German occupation. Pvt. Albert M. Ettinger of the 165th Infantry recalled that “French civilians wept joyously and offered what little provisions they had to our men.” To the left of the 165th, the 166th Infantry, originally composed entirely of Ohio National Guard soldiers, also made good progress. Fighting along with elements of the 1st Division, the 166th took the town of Lahayville before reaching its first-day objective by 1630.

The going was not quite so easy for the 42d Division’s 84th Infantry Brigade, commanded by Brig. General Douglas MacArthur. The 167th and 168th Infantry and the Tank Corps’ 327th Battalion experienced “slower going” and encountered a “more vigorous resistance.” The men of the 168th Infantry ran into elements of the German 10th Division entrenched in the Bois de la Sonnard.

Machine gun fire cut into the assault waves from front and flank while short-range heavy mortars called minenwerfers (mine throwers) lobbed high-explosive projectiles that created large craters on impact and showered the advancing doughboys with deadly shell fragments. Despite the carnage, their officers urged the men forward. With the support of the attached Stokes trench mortars and 37-mm. guns, the infantrymen came on in rushes toward the first belt of barbed wire, outflanked the machine gun nests, and overcame the strongpoints. Although many of its officers fell in the advance, the regiment surged into the woods and over the German front line. By 0630, the 168th Infantry had made short work of the defenses and was advancing to what seemed to be a weaker second line. The battle for the Bois de la Sonnard cost the regiment more than 200 casualties, but the attackers captured more than 300 prisoners and another 600 surrendered to follow-on units. No one bothered to count the German dead. By 1630, all Rainbow Division units had broken through the German defenses and secured their objectives.

Elsewhere in the IV Corps, the 1st Division attack made rapid headway. From a tactical standpoint, the division had drawn the most difficult assignment in the corps. Not only did it have to screen its own flank against German forces holding the high ground to its left, but it also had to advance across the rain swollen Rupt de Mad, a tributary of the Moselle River which ran northwest across the division front. The division advanced across no-man’s-land in a series of waves with the 1st Infantry Brigade on the left and 2d Infantry Brigade on the right. The supporting artillery preparation had targeted enemy machine gun positions with noticeable effect, and the infantry advanced behind a rolling barrage, reaching the German wire against light resistance. In fact, the advancing doughboys suffered more casualties from following their protective artillery screen too closely than from enemy fire. As expected, the division met serious opposition in the last trench of the Quart de Réserve. Despite the determined machine gun fire, they finally cleared the woods at the cost of 600 casualties.

Following that engagement, the 1st Division troops found the going much easier as they secured the third objective of the first phase of the operation. The corps commander ordered Summerall to resume the advance as soon as all of his units were ready. The final objective planned for the day included the towns of Lamarche and Nonsard, as well as the Bois de Gargantua. As artillery fire fell on the objective, the support battalions passed through the assault battalions to advance. They found the Madine fordable, but the high banks delayed the crossing of the tanks. Even so, the division occupied its first-day objectives in depth shortly after noon.

In general, as the tanks lumbered forward to provide support, they often had difficulty keeping pace with the advancing infantry on the broken and soggy ground. When Colonel Patton received word at 1000 that such “bad ground”—interlocking shell craters, gaping trenches, and the ever-present mud—was delaying the 327th Tank Battalion and accompanying infantry, he left his headquarters and made his way on foot to Essey-et-Maizerais. He found General MacArthur, and the two calmly stood talking about the situation as the battle raged. Meanwhile, at 1045, Air Service balloon observers reported seeing American troops “flat on their stomachs in front of the trench at Moulin under heavy machine gun fire,” with a “number of tanks behind them.” Patton got five of the Renaults moving, but all but one ran out of fuel before they reached the intermediate objective of Pannes ahead of the 42d Division.

Tanks pulling sledges brought forward a supply of gasoline and topped off the vehicles so they could continue. The five tanks formed a line abreast and led the infantry advance north to Beney, which the Americans captured along with a battery of four field guns and sixteen machine guns. At other times, the Renault FTs pulled ahead of the infantry. The 326th Tank Battalion reached Xivray before elements of the 1st Division. The tanks experienced similar logistical problems to those in its sister units. The 1st Division took Nonsard with the assistance of twenty-five tanks just before they too ran out of gas.

On the IV Corps’ right, the 89th Division also had a difficult assignment. It attacked in the general direction of Dampvitoux, supporting the 42d Division on its left and assisted by the 2d Division of the I Corps on its right. The Bois de Mort-Mare extended across almost the entire divisional front with only a narrow strip of open ground to the east. German defenses included strongpoints with trenches, concrete machine gun nests, and deep dugouts. The division advanced with its 178th Infantry Brigade on the left and the 177th Infantry Brigade on the right. Both brigades suffered heavy casualties as they approached the woods, but as they came within sight of the German positions, doughboys rushed forward individually and in small groups to take on the Germans. An exploding shell knocked 2d Lt. J. Hunter Wickersham, a platoon leader in Company H, 353d Infantry, 177th Brigade, to the ground with a severe wound. With his right arm disabled, he continued to lead his platoon in the attack, firing his revolver with his left hand until he collapsed and died. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery in action. Under such pressure, the German line cracked, and soon hundreds of enemy prisoners were streaming to the rear. By 0800, the Mort-Mare woods were in American hands and the division was advancing toward the next defensive line.

By 1230, the IV Corps reached the southern edge of the Bois de Nonsard and Bois de Thiaucourt and captured the town of Nonsard. The infantry had advanced eight kilometers through the muddy fields and paused to rest. Aside from active patrols, they temporarily halted their advance, having achieved almost all of their first-day objectives.

With the IV Corps making good progress, General Dickman requested and received permission to continue the attack toward the second day’s objectives. Sensing that the German line was in complete disarray, he turned to Lt. Col. Oliver P. M. “Happy” Hazard, who commanded a provisional squadron of cavalry, to continue the advance. Hazard’s men were part of the American 2d Cavalry. As in the French and British armies, the Americans consigned cavalry to limited roles on the Western Front. They generally performed security, liaison, and reconnaissance duties in previous operations, but could fight as dismounted infantry if the situation demanded. Each trooper carried a Springfield M1903 .30 caliber rifle and the unit also had a number of the newly arrived M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR), which enabled the men to deliver a disproportionate amount of firepower. Of greater importance to Dickman, however, was that the cavalrymen were rested and available to make a renewed attack. Hazard’s squadron initially consisted of Troops B, D, F, and H, but Troop B was performing patrol and liaison for the IV Corps’ assault divisions.

Because of the distinct nature of a cavalry unit’s organization, Hazard’s three troops would have at most 240 fighting men between them to make the assault, less than a standard infantry company. Moreover, even if the cavalry reached the railroad, they lacked demolition equipment with which to destroy the line. Even so, with reports that the Germans were starting to break, the squadron was ordered to move forward of the 1st Division’s line to reconnoiter the railroad and highway between Heudicourt and Vigneulles and block the Germans’ escape. The troopers reached Nonsard by about 1600, and Hazard ordered Capt. Ernest N. Harmon of Troop F to lead the advance guard. The men rode forward nearly two kilometers before entering the woods, encountering burning huts and loose-running livestock along the way.

Once in the woods, the cavalry units became disorganized, with the advanced guard losing contact with the main body and one of the troops moving forward along an adjacent route. The advance elements soon located an enemy wagon train preparing to withdraw. As they formed from column into “line of foragers” and drew their pistols in order to advance, they received fire from advancing enemy infantry and machine guns hidden in the woods to their flank and rear. Taken by surprise, the cavalrymen retreated about 300 meters to where they could dismount under cover and form a skirmish line with their M1903 rifles in order to advance—the heavy woods being unsuitable for mounted action.

They initially conducted this retirement in good order, even though they had many green horses unaccustomed to heavy fire. Under continued machine gun fire, however, some of the less-well-trained horses became skittish. The machine gunners, trained to shoot low, caused few casualties among the men, but their bullets hit some horses in the legs, while other horses panicked and became difficult to control. The troopers returned fire and killed most of the enemy machine gun crews on their flanks in their retreat. The officers reformed their units as the riders calmed their horses when they reached the wood line. Not strong enough to block the road without additional support, the cavalry withdrew behind the safety of the 1st Division.

Refusing to be dissuaded by the failure of the cavalry advance, Dickman ordered the 1st Division to continue the attack that evening. The movement was slow and difficult through the darkness in the Bois de Nonsard followed by the Bois de Vigneulles, but the infantry advanced in relatively good order. By early the next morning, 13 September, elements of the 28th Infantry, 2d Infantry Brigade, began taking up positions to the east, southeast, and south of the town, including positions astride the Vigneulles–St. Benoît road. Additionally, Dickman rushed a brigade of the 3d Division from the corps reserve to guard the left flank in order to allow 1st Division to continue its push forward in the morning. By the morning all were ready for the final push into Vigneulles to meet up with the 26th Division from General Cameron’s V Corps, thus closing the gap on any German forces remaining in the apex of the salient.

 The I Corps’ Attack

To the right of the IV Corps, General Liggett’s I Corps conducted a supporting attack, smashing into the southeastern section of the German line. Three of his divisions, the 2d, 5th, and 90th, began their assault at 0500 on 12 September while the 82d remained in position to anchor the right flank along the Moselle River. Liggett’s primary objective was the high ground north of Thiaucourt, which, next to St. Mihiel, was the largest town in the salient. Since the town sat on a major railroad line, the Americans considered it to be one of the most important objectives of the offensive. Liggett’s divisions had much the same experience as those in Dickman’s IV Corps. The 2d Division, reconstituted and reinforced after the bitter fighting at Soissons, cleared a series of wood lines defended by degraded German units. Enemy morale was so low that many surrendered or fled at the first sight of the approaching assault waves. By noon, the division had taken its primary objective of Thiaucourt and by the end of the day had captured the fortified high ground to the north of the town.

Elsewhere in the I Corps zone of attack, the 5th and the 90th Divisions protected the 2d Division’s flank and advanced apace as German resistance crumbled. The going was relatively easy in the 5th Division’s sector, but the doughboys of the 90th Division faced some of the fiercest fighting of the battle. The division’s 179th Infantry Brigade attacked on the division’s left, with the 357th and 358th Infantry advancing through machine gun–infested woods where the Germans had erected iron gratings between trees to channel the attackers into fire zones. On the division’s right, the 180th Infantry Brigade assigned its 359th Infantry to take a well-defended piece of ground known as Quarten Reserve, which had been the scene of bitter fighting in previous years. Crawling ahead, the doughboys reached a series of German barbed-wire entanglements as machine gun bullets snapped over their heads. As a call went out for someone to bring up a pair of wire cutters, Cpl. Jesse M. Grisham climbed out of his hole and calmly walked forward. Seemingly oblivious to the battle around him, Grisham cut one path through the entanglements, and then another. He had moved on to a third location when his luck ran out and a burst of machine gun fire cut him down. For his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Despite the stiff opposition, the assault rolled on, and by the end of the day the troops of both the 5th and 90th Divisions were up against the initial defenses of the Michel Line. On the far right, the 82d Division did not advance, but sent out aggressive combat patrols and raiding parties to confuse the enemy and to hold the defenders in place and keep them from interfering with the rest of the corps’ advance.

 The V Corps’ Supporting Attack

Along the western edge of the salient, General Cameron’s V Corps initiated a planned secondary attack at 0800, three hours behind the attack on the southern face. As elsewhere, the artillery preparation began firing at deep targets at 0100, and at 0500, when the main attack began, the artillery supporting the V Corps dropped to fire on enemy positions to its front. At H+3, following seven hours of artillery preparation, the infantry attack commenced. The corps’ primary assault force was the 26th Division, nicknamed the “Yankee Division” because it had been organized with National Guard units from New England. Under the command of Major General Clarence R. Edwards, the 26th Division advanced along a front of just over three kilometers, on a line stretching between Les Éparges to the north and a position in the woods southeast of the town of Mouilly. Edwards placed the 104th and 103d Infantry of the 52d Infantry Brigade on his left, with the 101st Infantry from the 51st Infantry Brigade on the right. Edwards held back the brigade’s remaining regiment, the 102d Infantry, as divisional reserve. The French 15th DIC attacked on the 26th Division’s left, protecting its flank. Farther to the north, the American 4th Division’s 8th Infantry Brigade conducted a supporting attack while the rest of the division remained in corps reserve. The French 2d DCP of the French II Colonial Corps advanced to support the American 26th Division’s right flank.

Unlike the more open terrain facing troops to the south, the 26th Division moved forward into dense forests and rolling hills that extended off the Meuse River to the west. Although German resistance was sporadic, the attacking infantry encountered extensive barbed-wire obstacles and hundreds of shell holes and craters, caused by the opening bombardment that further impeded the advance. When Pershing learned at midafternoon that the division had yet to reach its day’s objective, he sent instructions urging the corps commander to push forward. Despite the difficult terrain, the doughboys moved through the thick woods of the Bois de St. Rémy and La Chanot Bois. The Germans made their principal defense with well-placed concrete machine gun nests, or pillboxes, within the woods, as well as determined machine gun fire from the small village of Dommartin-la-Montagne that stymied the attack on the division’s left. Noticeably absent, however, was the enemy’s artillery, having been either withdrawn or silenced by the American artillery preparation. The Yankee Division soldiers finally reached their assigned objectives during the afternoon and early evening of 12 September, but the work was far from complete.

On the 26th Division’s flanks, the French had varying degrees of success. To the south, the French 2d DCP’s advance initially made greater gains than the Americans. However, the French launched their attacks in stages, hoping to hold the German units further to the south in place while the American attacks burrowed into the salient. Once the French started to move in the early afternoon, they rapidly caught up to the Americans as the Germans were beginning to withdraw. Unfortunately, the French 15th DIC on the 26th Division’s left did not enjoy similar success. Although the French were able to seize the town of St. Rémy by 1400, stiff German resistance prevented them from moving much further.

At the First Army headquarters, Pershing was concerned that the pace of the V and IV Corps’ advances, although steady, would allow the Germans to withdraw their forces from the apex of the salient before the Americans could close the gap. As with Dickman’s forces to the south, Pershing pressed Cameron to continue the advance. The general needed little motivation, ordering Edwards to have his 51st Brigade make a drive toward Vigneulles. Edwards complied, calling up his reserves and having the brigade reform into a column of march during the early evening. The brigade was ordered to conduct a night march along the Grande Tranchée de Calonne, a road running through a dense forest straight toward the village of Hattonchâtel to the southeast.

The race was on to link up with the IV Corps before the Germans could affect their withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the 52d Brigade received orders to vigorously renew its advance, which had stalled just past La Chanot Bois. The night attack succeeded, forcing the enemy to withdraw rapidly toward St. Maurice-sous-les-Côtes, on the edge of the Woëvre Plain. As the Germans fell back, the 52d Brigade expanded its axis of advance to include the village of Thillot-sous-les-Côtes, pushing the Germans off the high ground northeast of Hattonchâtel in preparation for the 51st Brigade’s final push.

 Along the Apex

The II French Colonial Corps held the point of the salient between the U.S. IV and V Corps, and had great success in accomplishing its mission. An hour after the main attack began, the French launched a number of limited objective attacks that kept the German defenders busily engaged on that front and prevented their withdrawal. The French 39th Division, positioned on the southern edge of the salient to the left of the American 1st Division, kept pressure on the Germans occupying the critical high ground at Montsec and Loupmont. This prevented the Germans from hitting the 1st Division’s left flank in force and enabled its push to Nonsard. Units of the French 39th Division followed the left flank of the American 1st Division until it reached the Heudicourt-Vigneulles road and established a blocking position astride it. At the same time, the French 26th Division met stern resistance outside of the town of St. Mihiel, which would not fall to the attackers until the morning of 13 September. Finally, as described previously, the French 2d DCP protected the flank of the American advance along the western edge of the salient. Once the American attack was well underway, the French corps launched a series of vigorous raids that penetrated the German front lines. As the Germans began to realize the dire nature of the situation their resistance within the salient slowly started to disappear.

 Closing the Gap

The initial American attacks on 12 September accomplished their missions, pushing into the sides of the salient and punishing the German defenders. Pershing and his GHQ and First Army staffs learned that the Germans were burning the supplies they could not move and pulling back from the forward portions of the salient. Retreating soldiers, artillery, and support trains soon flooded the roads between the two American attacks. With the Germans initially holding out against the French attacks along the point of the salient, all that remained was to link the American attacks, preferably before the Germans could withdraw.

Playing on the rivalry between the Regular Army and National Guard, General Cameron goaded General Edwards to have the 26th Division “try to beat the 1st Division in the race and clean up.” Lead elements of the 102d Infantry reached the town of Hattonchâtel around 0200 on 13 September, followed by the remaining elements of the 51st Infantry Brigade and assorted divisional units. By seizing Hattonchâtel, the Americans could view the entire Woëvre Plain before them, including Vigneulles a kilometer to the south and a hundred meters below them. They immediately sent out patrols to close off the roads and to make contact with units from IV Corps.

On the other side of the gap, the 1st Division began its advance toward Vigneulles and Hattonchâtel shortly after midnight, closing any roads that remained open from the west. About 0900, Brig. General Frank E. Bamford, commander of the 1st Division’s 2d Infantry Brigade, received a message that scouts from the 28th Infantry had noticed activity in and around the village of Hattonville, just to the east of Hattonchâtel.

From a distance, it appeared to the scouts that enemy units of various sizes were moving into the town, possibly concentrating to counterattack or make a firm resistance. The regimental commander soon requested artillery support. Not long afterward, 1st Division patrols established contact with those of the 26th Division. The Big Red One soldiers soon learned that the Yankee Division occupied both towns, and the scouts actually had witnessed groups of German prisoners being marched to holding areas in the town. At 0930, the 1st Division and IV Corps headquarters received the message, “Objective reached, held by 26th Division.” Both divisions established defenses and made contact with units of the French 39th Division advancing from the south. Looking to redeem the honor of the mounted arm, the three troops of the 2d Cavalry advanced and achieved better results, capturing an enemy battery and a number of prisoners. Mopping up continued for the rest of the day, but the First Army had closed the St. Mihiel salient.

 The War in the Air

As American and French forces battered the Germans on the ground, the war in the skies got off to a slow start. Despite Colonel Mitchell’s plan to use an overwhelming number of aircraft to support the ground campaign, the weather severely limited what his units could do. On 12 and 13 September, low clouds, heavy rain, and high winds made the simple act of flying extremely dangerous, let alone in combat. The American First Army Air Service could not launch the mass attacks that Mitchell desired, and had to settle for limited sorties of small groups or individual flights. Because of the low cloud ceiling, which forced pilots to fly less than 300 meters above the ground, pursuit aircraft generally abandoned trying to take on the German fighters en masse, and instead engaged in ground strafing and targeting enemy reconnaissance planes. The cloud cover similarly restricted Allied bombers and observation aircraft to low-level flying, making them susceptible to both enemy small-arms fire and friendly artillery fire.

Making matters worse, a number of the American flyers struggled not only with the weather, but with operating their aircraft. Many of the DH–4 bombers, fitted with a new American 400-horsepower Liberty V–12 engine, had only recently arrived on the battlefield, leaving little time for pilots to become accustomed to the new planes’ capabilities. Even for those pilots who understood their aircraft, nearly half of the American squadrons lacked significant combat experience. The men soon found that Mitchell’s intent that pursuit units protect reconnaissance and bomber aircraft proved difficult because of the performance characteristics of the various planes.

Bombers could barely match the pursuits’ minimal safe speed necessary to stay aloft, and the pursuit fighters did not have the range to stay with the bombers or observation planes, which flew up to sixty kilometers beyond the front lines. Meanwhile, the reconnaissance crews encountered their own problems. The poor weather prevented photographic reconnaissance until 14 September, limiting the pilots to conducting visual observations only. Moreover, while they could report their findings to ground forces via air-to-ground radios, they could not receive messages themselves and thus had no way to verify receipt of their reports. Some pilots tried to coordinate with ground forces to relay information back behind the lines, but many of the infantrymen were ill-trained in the correct procedure for signaling aircraft and were reluctant to expose themselves to enemy fire by putting out marker panels in any case.

By 14 September, the weather began to clear and Mitchell’s forces finally could take to the skies in large numbers. By this point, however, the battle had changed. With the Germans withdrawing behind the formidable defenses of the Hindenburg Line, Mitchell shifted to longer-range bombing missions and air-to-air engagements. The Germans, meanwhile, had reinforced their air units in the area. Even though they did not commit as large a force as Mitchell had anticipated, they were still able to mount a bloody defense as they covered their reforming ground units, inflicting significant losses in what would be one of the costliest months of the war for Allied air units.

Considering the disparity of air units committed to the battle by both sides, the outcome was never really in doubt. The Germans remained capable of attaining air superiority anywhere they chose on the Western Front, but at this point in the war the St. Mihiel salient did not warrant the resources required to defend it. This is not to say that Mitchell’s forces did not do commendable work. Over four days, American aviation conducted 3,300 flights over the battle lines, totaling 4,000 hours in the air, while firing 30,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition and dropping over 1,000 individual bombs, delivering seventy-five tons of high explosives.

In combination with the British and French, Mitchell’s forces shot down twelve enemy balloons and over sixty planes. The Americans lost fifty-three planes and suffered ninety-five casualties, including thirty-six killed in action. Among these was 2d Lt. David E. Putnam, who at the time of his death on 12 September was the leading American ace with twelve kills. The battle also saw the beginning of 2d Lt. Frank Luke Jr.’s short but spectacular career. The 21-year-old pilot scored his first career kill on 12 September, shooting down a German balloon. Between then and his death on 29 September, he would rack up eighteen kills (fourteen of them balloons) in ten sorties over eight days of combat. Like their counterparts on the ground, the American airmen were quickly learning the realities of combat and gaining the experience necessary to mount ever-larger campaigns. 

Wrapping Up the Offensive

On the German side of the line, the Army Group C commander, General Fuchs, considered the evolving situation. By 1100 on 12 September, he recognized that his forces faced a major offensive.

Although the troops at the apex of the salient initially repelled the French assaults, the Americans had deeply penetrated the southern and western flanks. Fuchs recognized that the situation was untenable and sent orders to execute a general retreat to the Michel position at once. Buoyed by their apparent success against the French, German commanders were reluctant to depart—unaware that the attacks primarily were intended to hold them in place. In lieu of a full withdrawal, they issued orders to pull back to an intermediate position still within the salient. Fuchs quickly intervened and had them retreat before the two attacking pincers could close. He understood that a rapid withdrawal could result in heavy losses of men and materiel, but he also recognized that any delay in the withdrawal invited an even greater catastrophe for the Germans trapped in the salient.

Despite the American breakthroughs, the Germans withdrew in good order. The rapid American advances had virtually annihilated the 77th Reserve Division and shattered elements of the 10th Division and the Austrian 35th Division. Still, the 107th Division and the 28th Reserve Division managed to hold their positions on the Combres Heights along the western side of the salient long enough to allow most of the defenders around St. Mihiel to escape before the trap shut completely. By the evening of the 12th, the Germans were able to mount scattered local counterattacks, supported by increasing heavy artillery, indicating a stiffened enemy defense.

Despite the growing resistance, the Americans resumed the attack on the 13th, although fatigue, bad weather, soggy ground, and enemy defenses sapped much of the men’s strength and slowed their momentum. The advance continued steadily through the areas that the Germans had abandoned, but slowed as the men approached the new German defenses along the Michel Line.

Patrols sent to reconnoiter the new enemy positions met more determined resistance. Soldiers of the 89th Division watched in horror as interlocking machine guns and direct-fire artillery cut an advance by the adjacent 2d Division to ribbons. Elements of the 42d and 89th Divisions also tried to continue their advance, but were soon brought to a halt by heavy artillery fire. All along the American line, the doughboys dug in and prepared to hold their recently won positions.

During the limited fighting that occurred through 14 September, American units consolidated their new lines. The previous two days of fighting had brought the First Army to the Michel Line. The three American corps now held a line roughly forty-two kilometers long, extending from Vandières in the I Corps sector through Jaulny, Doncourt-aux-Templiers, and Fresnes-en-Woëvre to Haudiomont in the V Corps sector. Given his men’s successes over the previous two days, General Pershing was sorely tempted to press the attack beyond the limited objectives that he and Marshal Foch had agreed to during their meeting on 2 September. If he ignored the agreement, the American First Army could push on for Metz, threatening the Briey Iron Basin and the critical railway net beyond. When he put the suggestion to his staff, however, they vigorously opposed continuing the attack. The First Army’s best divisions were exhausted and needed relief. Moreover, many of the reserve units supporting the St. Mihiel operation were to begin moving north for the upcoming Meuse-Argonne Offensive. General Liggett, the I Corps commander, likewise expressed his doubts about pressing the attack. He believed the defenses around Metz to be far stronger than those encountered at St. Mihiel and felt that the First Army, despite its recent success, was not yet ready for such an effort.

In the end, Pershing decided to honor his commitment to Foch and by 15 September began withdrawing some of his divisions and moving them north. One week later, on 22 September, the American First Army assumed control over the Meuse-Argonne sector in preparation for Marshal Foch’s offensive.


SOURCE: THE U.S. ARMY CAMPAIGNS OF WORLD WAR I (United States Army Center of Military History)
BY:Series Editor: Brian F. Neumann
CONTRIBUTOR: Cade Pommeraan

Hipparete: Life of an Athenian Wife

Although we have only limited evidence for the lives of non-combatants in the Peloponnian War, it is possible to put together information from a variety of sources to present an account of how an individual’s life might have been affected by the war. On such individual is Hipparete, the wife of the Athenian politician and General Alkibiades. Hipparete was born about 440 B.C.E. She was the daughter of a prominent Athenian citizen, Hipponikos, whose family owned a large amount of land in Attika and obtained considerable revenue from the silver mining industry. Indeed he was reputed to be the richest man in Greece. Hipparete’s mother, whose name is not known, had previously been married to the famous Perikles, but they were divorced in about 455 B.C.E. and she married Hipponikos soon after.


Hipparete’s childhood was as comfortable and happy as was possible for the daughter of a citizen. Upper class Athenian girls led quiet, sheltered lives, surrounded by women and only occasionally venturing out of their homes to participate in religious festivals, particularly those associated with Athena, the patron goddess of the Athenians. In the words of one Athenian writer, Xenophon, the daughter of a wealthy citizen was expected to be raised, ‘ under careful supervision, so that she might see and hear and speak as little as possible.’Hipparete spent most of her childhood unde the watchful eyes of her slave nurse and her mother, learning the skills considered appropriate for a young woman. These included cooking, spinning, weaving and caring for the sick. Since her family was wealthy, she may even learned to read and write, although such education was not considered necessary or even desirable for girls, whose upbringing was geared towards preparing them to be capable but subservient wives.


The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War must have had a profound effect on Hipparete’s life. The City in which she was growing up would have changed, both in appearance and atmosphere. It was already becoming more densely populated, both in the main urban centre around the Acropolis, and the secondary area of Peiraieus. The increased prosperity which had accompanied Athens’ expanding imperial power and flourishing maritime trade encouraged people from near and far to come and live there.

Perikles’ strategy of avoiding pitched battles witht eh invading Peloponnesian armies resulted in many families having to abandon the countryside around Athens and move with in the fortifications of the Long Walls. The narrow strips of land between the walls became home to many thousands of refugees, who built houses and cultivated the ground trying to compensate for the loss of their agriculture resources, which were at the mercy of the invaders. Their numbers were swelled by refugees from Plataia, who arrived in the city in the summer of 431 B.C.E., after an attack by the Thebans had demonstrated their city’s vulnerability.

He crowded, unsanitary conditions, especially in the hot, dry summers, must have made the city a particularly unpleasant for these refugees to live. In 430 B.C.E., when a deadly plague broke out in Athens, life there became much worse. The plague reached Athens from the East, having already ravaged parts of the Persian Empire. The very maritime tradeers whose business was so vital to the city’s economy also provided transport for the leathal bacteria. Initially the plague struck in the port of Peiraieus, where the first cases were reported in the summer, soon after the Peloponnesians had begun their second invasion of Athenian territory. From Peiraieus the epidemic spread rapidly to the main part of the city.

Hipparete was almost certainly infected by the plague, which did not discriminate between rich and poor in its devastating rampage through the city. Thucydides, who also survived the infection, describes its symptoms in vivid detail. They included the high fever, severe thirst, coughing, stomach pains, retching, uncontrollable diarrhea and ulcers, both internal and external. Many modern experts have tried to identify the disease from his description, but they have not reached a firm conclusion. It was certainly very contagious and probably killed about one-third of the inhabitants of Athens over a period of about four years, with the worst casualties coming in the first year, when the lack of any acquired immunity made the population particularly vulnerable.

Thycydides tells us that so many people died of the plague, and so quickly, that proper funeral procedures were neglected. Normally Athenian funerals were marked by elaborate private and public rituals, especially in the case of the richer families, who like to use such occasions to show off their wealth and social status. Preparing the body of the deceased was a duty for the women of the family, who would wash the corpse, anoint it with oil and garland it with flowers. It would be laid on a bier for a day and a night, allowing time for family and friends to mourn, and pay their respects. The laws of Athens required the funeral to take place before dawn on the following day. A procession would leave the house of the deceased and go outside the walls of the city, to either a communal or a family cemetery, where the body would be buried or cremated. The men of the family would lead the procession, with the women walking solemnly behind the corpse and singing a mourning song. When the plague was at its height, however, many bodies were left lying untended, at the mercy of dogs and carrion birds. Others were buried or cremated in haste, sometimes several together, without proper rituals. Thucydides even describes people carrying corpses around looking for a recently dug grave to drop them in, or an already blazing pyre on which to throw them.

Hipparete was fortunate to have survived this disease, although some mebers of her father’s household must certainly have died, possibly including her mother. We know that her father survived because he was in joint command of an Athenian expedition against the Boiotian city of Tanafra in 426 B.C.E. Her brother Kallias also lived through the infection, but with horrific effects of the epidemic will certainly have left a lasting impression on the family. Young Hipparetes had no choice but to remain in the city while all this was happening, whereas her father and many other men could leave the city on commercial or diplomatic missions or as part of the military forces sent to raid against the Peloponnesians and their allies. We can be sure that it was a dark and troubled period of her life, as she longed for relief from the anxieties of war, like thousands of other women and girls in the city.


One example of the change in moral standards during the war may be the extravagant behavior of Hipparete’s husband, Alkibiade, whom she married about 424 B.C.E., when she was aged no more than 16. Alikibiades was at least 10 years older than her, as was usual in Classical Athens. He came from one of a group of Athenians families known as the Eupatridai, or noble families. His father Kleinias had been killed in the battle of Koroneia in 446 B.C.E. His mother Deinomache, was relative by marriage of Perikles and for a time after his father’s death Alibiades lived in the household of Perikles, who along with his brother Ariphron, was Alkibiades’ guardian. Given the closeness of their respective families it is probable that Hipparete would have met her future husband before they were married, but she is unlikely to have spent much time in his company. Although Athenian marriages were normally arranged between the parents or guardians of the couple and it was not usual for cousins or even siblings to arrange for their respective children marry, renewing and strengthening family ties. In this case it is very likely there were strong financial considerations on Alkibiades’ side, as Hipparete would have brought a substantial dowry to the marriage. There were also political advantages in the match, as her family connections were of the highest order. She would have been seen as the perfect wife for an ambitious young man.

The primary duty of an Athenian wife was to bear children for her husband, preferably a male child, who could inherit his father’s property and continue the family line. Hipparete fulfilled this duty by providing her husband with a son, also called Alkibidaes, and a daughter, whose name is not known. It is likely that she had another son, but he died in infancy, when medical knowledge was very limited.

In stark contrast to her husband, who participated in diplomatic missions and military campaigns as her father had done, once she was married Hipparete probably rarely travelled beyond the confines of her home. Nor is it likely that Hipparete would have been involved in any of Alkibiades’ activates. Citizen women participated in funerals, and certain religious festivals, in some cases as the main celebrants, but otherwise they had no role in public life of the cities. She will have heard about her husband’s wartime adventures and, possibly, discussed them with him, but war and politics were seen as exclusively the concern of men. In a famous speech, which Thucydides puts in the mouth of Perkiles, in honor of those who died in the early stages of the war, the only mention of women is a comment addressed to the widows of the fallen, that their greatest glory is not to be talked about by men, whether in praise or criticism.

Hipparete had been brought up to respect and obey the men in her life and she seems to have done all she could to be a god wife, but on at least one occasion her husband’s behavior drove her to attempt to end their marriage. While Athenian men expected their wives to be completely faithful, married men thought nothing of having intercourse with their female slaves, or with prostitutes, who might be slaves or free women from outside Athens. It was even considered acceptable for an unmarried man to keep concubines in his home, but he would be expected to end such arrangements once he took a wife.

When the Athenians captured the island of Melos in 416 B.C.E. they killed the men and enslaved the women and children. Alkibiades bought one of these unfortunate women and kept her in his household as concubine, eventually having a son by her. The effect of the Melian slave’s presence upon Hipparete must have been devastating. Here was woman whom her husband had purchased as booty, yet he preferred her to his own well-born wife as his sexual partner. We can image that Hipparete might have sympathized with the woman’s plight, for if Athens were to be defeated in the war, then she too could expect to be enslaved by the victors. On the other hand, by installing another woman in their home Alkibidaes was showing a lack of respect to Hipparete, even though she was the mother of his children and daughter of a prominent Athenian citizen.

It seems to have been this situation that finally induced Hipparete to leave her husband and return to her brother’s house, her father having died by this time. An Athenian woman had the right to leave her husband’s household if she was being mistreated, and petition a magistrate to grant legal recognition of the divorce. When Hipparete approached the magistrate, however, Alkibidaes himself was there. He dragged her back to his house, where she remained until her death, which occurred soon afterwards. Her life was not a long one, but at least she did not live to see her husband tried for impiety and forced into exile in Sparta, his property auctioned, and her son threatened with banishment because of his father’s political activities. Nor did she witness the bitter end of the war.


SOURCE: The Greeks at War
BY: Philip de Souza; Waldemar Heckel; Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

Presidential Commutations of Sentences: Obama 30 March 2016

61 Commutation Grants

Henry Claude Agnew
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Southern District of Florida; November 24, 2003
Sentence: 262 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

David Lang Akana
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A) & (b)(1)(B); attempt to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), (b)(1)(A), & 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2; attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), and 18 U.S.C. § 2; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)
District/Date: District of Hawaii; February 15, 2006
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Robert Anthony Anderson
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846; attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, aiding and abetting, 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: Western District of Kentucky; August 8, 1994
Sentence: Life imprisonment
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017, leaving intact and in effect all other components of the sentence.

Marvin Bailey
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846; aiding the travel in interstate commerce to promote the distribution of cocaine, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 & 1952(a)(3); possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of West Virginia; June 19, 1997
Sentence: Life imprisonment; $25,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017, and unpaid balance of the $25,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect all other components of the sentence.

Bernard Beard, aka Bernard Devon Beard
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, and phencyclidine (PCP), 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), & (b)(1)(A); felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)
District/Date: Central District of California; May 22, 2009
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Reginald Wendell Boyd, Jr.
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine hydrochloride, 21 U.S.C. § 846; carry a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i)
District/Date: Middle District of North Carolina; October 31, 2005
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the eight-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Carmel Bretous
Offense: Conspiracy to import at least five kilograms of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 963; importation of five kilograms of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 952(a); conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Florida; November 6, 2001
Sentence: 235 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Terry Brown
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, & 851(a)
District/Date: Eastern District of Missouri; July 7, 2005
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Willie Chevell Cameron
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, a mixture and substance containing cocaine, more than 50 grams of methamphetamine (actual) and more than 50 grams of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A)(viii), (B)(viii), (C), & 841(D)
District/Date: Northern District of Florida; June 14, 2006
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Nathan Carter
Offense: [1.] Possession of 121 grams cocaine with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession of 65.8 grams cocaine base with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); [2.] Supervised release violation (attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846)
District/Date: Western District of Tennessee; [1.] April 30, 1999; [2.] May 5, 1999
Sentence: [1.] Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release [2.] 30 months’ imprisonment; 18 months’ supervised release; $10,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence for both offenses commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Lewis Clay
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute and the distribution of at least 50 grams of crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 841(b)(1)(A)(iii); possession of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 844
District/Date: Northern District of Georgia; May 1, 2003
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Manuel Colon
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, cocaine base, and heroin, 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: District of Massachusetts; January 25, 2007
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Alvin Cordell
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, 21 U.S.C. § 846; attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack), 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Southern District of Ohio; May 5, 1997
Sentence: Life imprisonment; $50,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017, and unpaid balance of the $50,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect all other components of the sentence.

Kevin County
Offense: [1.] Distributing more than 100 grams of heroin, 21 U.S.C. § 846; distributing less than 100 grams of heroin (two counts), 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 [2.] Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and cocaine hydrochloride, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, & 851(a); distribution of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 851(a); distribution of cocaine hydrochloride, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 851(a); use of a communication facility in furtherance of a drug crime, 21 U.S.C. §§ 843(b) & 851(a)
District/Date: Eastern District of Louisiana; [1.] December 18, 2002 [2.] March 26, 2003
Sentence: [1.] 151 months’ imprisonment; six years’ supervised release; [2.] 240 months’ imprisonment (concurrent); 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Nabar Moneek Criam
Offense: Possessed with intent to distribute crack, 21 U.S.C. § 841 (a)(1) & 841(b)(1)(A); possessed firearm during drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(1)
District/Date: Middle District of North Carolina; March 30, 2007
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Amos Embress Cyrus
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); supervised release violation (Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S. C. § 846)
District/Date: District of South Carolina; June 21, 1996
Sentence: 300 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Roy Lee Debose
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine hydrochloride, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)(B)(ii) & 846; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)(A)(iii) & 846
District/Date: Western District of Louisiana; September 18, 2000
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Dexter Lanoyd Dickens
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), & 846; distribution of a mixture or substance containing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school (four counts), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), & 860; principal to distribution and possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(C) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; distribution and possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), & 860; possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 841(b)(1)(B)(ii)
District/Date: Northern District of Florida; December 17, 2004
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Andre Ester
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1) & 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) & 846; aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)(iii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: Southern District of Texas; October 25, 2002
Sentence: 300 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Christopher Tim Florence
Offense: Possessed with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)
District/Date: Middle District of North Carolina; August 9, 2005
Sentence: 268 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Ian Kavanaugh Gavin
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); using/carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Alabama; March 8, 2007
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and supervised release term commuted to four years of supervised release, leaving intact and in effect all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Isadore Gennings
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A); interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises; 18 U.S.C. § 1952; possession with intent to distribute in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), & (b)(1)(A)
District/Date: Southern District of Ohio; March 14, 2002
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and supervised release term commuted to five years of supervised release, leaving intact and in effect all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Lamont Durville Glass
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)
District/Date: Eastern District of Tennessee; January 9, 1998
Sentence: 262 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the eight-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Vander Keith Gore
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, five kilograms or more of cocaine, 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, and less than 100 grams of heroin, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: District of South Carolina; October 30, 2002
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

George Michael Gray
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 846; manufacture of methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession of firearm in connection with drug trafficking offense, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)
District/Date: District of Oregon; July 3, 1995
Sentence: Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Curtis Greer
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), & 846; possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base (two counts), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(iii), and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: Southern District of Texas; August 21, 2003
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $5,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and unpaid balance of the $5,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Jerome Harris, Jr.
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); use/carry/possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Alabama; November 7, 2006
Sentence: 300 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Vernon Harris
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute, 18 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession of firearm by convicted felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)
District/Date: Eastern District of Pennsylvania; October 25, 1996
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Kenneth G. Harvey
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)
District/Date: Western District of Missouri; April 5, 1991
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $10,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Andrew Lee Holzendorf
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Northern District of Florida; November 14, 1996
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Tommy Howard
Offense: Use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Ohio; January 8, 2004
Sentence: 292 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Kenneth Isaacs
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute hydromorphone, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Eastern District of Arkansas; May 6, 2004
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; three years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the three-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Robert Lee Lane
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 841(b)(1)(A)(iii)
District/Date: Middle District of Florida; May 3, 1990
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Angela LaPlatney
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 846, & 851; concealing a person from arrest, 18 U.S.C. § 1071
District/Date: District of Wyoming; February 17, 2005
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Anthony Lee Lewis
Offense:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846; distribution of crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; convicted felon in possession of a firearm, 21 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: Middle District of Florida; September 16, 1994
Sentence: Life imprisonment
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017, leaving intact and in effect all other components of the sentence.

Herbert Lewis, Jr.
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine (two counts), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)
District/Date: Eastern District of Oklahoma; March 7, 2003
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $2,500 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and unpaid balance of the $2,500 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Byron Lamont McDade
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, aiding and abetting, 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: District of Columbia; May 29, 2002
Sentence: 324 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

John E. Milton, III
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Middle District of Louisiana; April 3, 1997
Sentence: 600 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $250,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and unpaid balance of the $250,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Gregory Morgan
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), and 851
District/Date: Northern District of Georgia; March 11, 2003
Sentence: 225 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Michael W. Morris
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute “crack” cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Indiana; December 24, 2003
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and supervised release term commuted to five years of supervised release, leaving intact and in effect all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Larry Nokes
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession of a controlled substance, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)
District/Date: Central District of Illinois; December 10, 2007
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Wayne Parker, aka Wayne Ryals
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Northern District of Florida; November 23, 1999
Sentence: 420 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $1,500 fine; amended to 360 months’ imprisonment; six years’ supervised release; $1,500 fine (March 8, 2001)
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the six-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Exdonovan Peak
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Southern District of Mississippi; February 13, 1997
Sentence: 365 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $12,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and unpaid balance of the $12,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Carol Denise Richardson
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), & (b)(1)(A)(iii); possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (incorrectly described in the judgment as cocaine), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(B)(iii); possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(B)(iii)
District/Date: Southern District of Texas; June 16, 2006
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Jose Ramon Rivera
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, 21 U.S.C. § 846; distribution of heroin (two counts), 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: Northern District of Illinois; November 10, 1993
Sentence: 360 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Ismael Rosa
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine (four counts), 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; use of communication facility in commission of drug offense (two counts), 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: Northern District of Illinois; August 8, 1995
Sentence: Life imprisonment
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017, leaving intact and in effect all other components of the sentence.

Melissa Ross
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride and 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 & 841(b)(1)(A)
District/Date: Middle District of Florida; June 11, 2002
Sentence: 292 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $4,000 fine; amended to 240 months’ imprisonment (January 17, 2009)
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, and unpaid balance of the $4,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Jeffrey Sapp
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846; possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Florida; January 24, 2003
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Robin Evette Shoulders
Offense: Possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Western District of Kentucky; December 16, 2002
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on September 26, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Eric Smith
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846; unlawfully maintaining a residence for the purpose of distributing and using cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1)
District/Date: Western District of Tennessee; April 24, 1995
Sentence: 360 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Ernest Spiller
Offense: Distribution of crack cocaine (two counts), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 851; maintaining a crack house, 21 U.S.C. § 856; possession of a firearm in further of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) & (2); felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)
District/Date: Southern District of Illinois; August 3, 2000
Sentence: 352 months’ imprisonment; three years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the three-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Tairone Traniel Stanford
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance – cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance – cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Eastern District of Texas; April 22, 1999
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Alohondra Rey Staton, aka Alohandra Ray Staton
Offense: Possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base (crack), 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
District/Date: Eastern District of North Carolina; August 21, 2001
Sentence: 360 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Corey R. Thomas
Offense: Possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (“crack”); 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 851(a)(1)
District/Date: Eastern District of Missouri; June 9, 2004
Sentence: Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Damion L. Tripp
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute a substance containing 50 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A); possession with intent to distribute a substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(D)
District/Date: Eastern District of Missouri; April 28, 2008
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Dwayne Twane Walker, aka Duane Tuane Walker
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 846
District/Date: Western District of Virginia; May 27, 1997
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release; $500 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Jesse Webster
Offense: Conspiracy, 21 U.S.C. § 846; attempting to possess with intent to distribute cocaine (incorrectly listed on the judgment as conspiracy), 21 U.S.C. § 846; filing false income tax return (two counts), 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1)
District/Date: Northern District of Illinois; March 21, 1996
Sentence: Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $25,000 fine
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on September 26, 2016, and unpaid balance of the $25,000 fine remitted, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence and the remaining balance of the fine.

Shermaine Donnell Whitley
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and cocaine base (“crack”), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), 846, & 851
District/Date: District of South Carolina; May 1, 2003
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Sammy Lee Woods
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of cocaine base, aiding and abetting, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), & (b)(1)(A)(iii), and 18 U.S.C. § 2; use of a communications facility to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, aiding and abetting, 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; possession with intent to distribute 1.062 grams of cocaine base, aiding and abetting, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)(iii), and 18 U.S.C. § 2
District/Date: District of Colorado; April 21, 2004
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Christopher Michael Wright
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture and distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii), & 846
District/Date: District of Oregon; May 31, 2006
Sentence: 216 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $5,000 restitution
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

Michael A. Yandal
Offense: Possession with the intent to distribute approximately 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1(A)(iii); possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(D); possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(I)
District/Date: Western District of Kentucky; April 24, 2007
Sentence: 195 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; amended to 180 months’ imprisonment (December 11, 2007)
Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on July 28, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.


SOURCE: United States Department of Justice

Peloponnesian War: The State of Greece before the war

Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief was not without its grounds. The preparations of both the combatants were in every department in the last state of perfection; and he could see the rest of the Hellenic race taking sides in the quarrel; those who delayed doing so at once having it in contemplation. Indeed this was the greatest movement yet known in history, not only of the Hellenes, but of a large part of the barbarian world—I had almost said of mankind.

For though the events of remote antiquity, and even those that more immediately preceded the war, could not from lapse of time be clearly ascertained, yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far back as was practicable leads me to trust, all point to the conclusion that there was nothing on a great scale, either in war or in other matters.

For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times had no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers. Without commerce, without freedom of communication either by land or sea, cultivating no more of their territory than the exigencies of life required, destitute of capital, never planting their land (for they could not tell when an invader might not come and take it all away, and when he did come they had no walls to stop him), thinking that the necessities of daily sustenance could be supplied at one place as well as another, they cared little for shifting their habitation, and consequently neither built large cities nor attained to any other form of greatness. The richest soils were always most subject to this change of masters; such as the district now called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnese, Arcadia excepted, and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas. The goodness of the land favoured the aggrandizement of particular individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion. Accordingly Attica, from the poverty of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedom from faction, never changed its inhabitants. And here is no inconsiderable exemplification of my assertion that the migrations were the cause of there being no correspondent growth in other parts. The most powerful victims of war or faction from the rest of Hellas took refuge with the Athenians as a safe retreat; and at an early period, becoming naturalized, swelled the already large population of the city to such a height that Attica became at last too small to hold them, and they had to send out colonies to Ionia.
There is also another circumstance that contributes not a little to my conviction of the weakness of ancient times. Before the Trojan war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name; on the contrary, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, no such appellation existed, but the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes; though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all. The best proof of this is furnished by Homer. Born long after the Trojan War, he nowhere calls all of them by that name, nor indeed any of them except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans, Argives, and Achaeans. He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive appellation. It appears therefore that the several Hellenic communities, comprising not only those who first acquired the name, city by city, as they came to understand each other, but also those who assumed it afterwards as the name of the whole people, were before the Trojan war prevented by their want of strength and the absence of mutual intercourse from displaying any collective action.
Indeed, they could not unite for this expedition till they had gained increased familiarity with the sea. And the first person known to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, and ruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling the Karians and appointing his own sons governors; and thus did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure the revenues for his own use.
For in early times the Hellenes and the barbarians of the coast and islands, as communication by sea became more common, were tempted to turn pirates, under the conduct of their most powerful men; the motives being to serve their own cupidity and to support the needy. They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls, and consisting of a mere collection of villages, and would plunder it; indeed, this came to be the main source of their livelihood, no disgrace being yet attached to such an achievement, but even some glory. An illustration of this is furnished by the honour with which some of the inhabitants of the continent still regard a successful marauder, and by the question we find the old poets everywhere representing the people as asking of voyagers—”Are they pirates?”—as if those who are asked the question would have no idea of disclaiming the imputation, or their interrogators of reproaching them for it. The same rapine prevailed also by land.
And even at the present day many of Hellas still follows the old fashion, the Ozolian Lokrians for instance, the Aetolians, the Akarnanians, and that region of the continent; and the custom of carrying arms is still kept up among these continentals, from the old piratical habits. The whole of Hellas used once to carry arms, their habitations being unprotected and their communication with each other unsafe; indeed, to wear arms was as much a part of everyday life with them as with the barbarians. And the fact that the people in these parts of Hellas are still living in the old way points to a time when the same mode of life was once equally common to all. The Athenians were the first to lay aside their weapons, and to adopt an easier and more luxurious mode of life; indeed, it is only lately that their rich old men left off the luxury of wearing undergarments of linen, and fastening a knot of their hair with a tie of golden grasshoppers, a fashion which spread to their Ionian kindred and long prevailed among the old men there. On the contrary, a modest style of dressing, more in conformity with modern ideas, was first adopted by the Lacedaemonians, the rich doing their best to assimilate their way of life to that of the common people. They also set the example of contending naked, publicly stripping and anointing themselves with oil in their gymnastic exercises. Formerly, even in the Olympic contests, the athletes who contended wore belts across their middles; and it is but a few years since that the practice ceased. To this day among some of the barbarians, especially in Asia, when prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the combatants. And there are many other points in which a likeness might be shown between the life of the Hellenic world of old and the barbarian of to-day.
With respect to their towns, later on, at an era of increased facilities of navigation and a greater supply of capital, we find the shores becoming the site of walled towns, and the isthmuses being occupied for the purposes of commerce and defense against a neighbor. But the old towns, on account of the great prevalence of piracy, were built away from the sea, whether on the islands or the continent, and still remain in their old sites. For the pirates used to plunder; one another and indeed all coast populations whether seafaring or not.
The islanders, too, were great pirates. These islanders were Karians and Phoenicians, by whom most of the islands were colonized, as was proved by the following fact. During the purification of Delos by Athens in this war all the graves in the island were taken up, and it was found that above half their inmates were Karians: they were identified by the fashion of the arms buried with them, and by the method of interment, which was the same as the Karians still follow. But as soon as Minos had formed his navy, communication by sea became easier, as he colonized most of the islands, and thus expelled the malefactors. The coast population now began to apply themselves more closely to the acquisition of wealth, and their life became more settled; some even began to build themselves walls on the strength of their newly acquired riches. For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker to the dominion of the stronger; and the possession of capital enabled the more powerful to reduce the smaller towns to subjection. And it was at a somewhat later stage of this development that they went on the expedition against Troy.
What enabled Agamemnon to raise the armament was more, in my opinion, his superiority in strength, than the oaths of Tyndareus, which bound the suitors to follow him. Indeed, the account given by those Peloponnesians who have been the recipients of the most credible tradition is this. First of all Pelops, arriving among a needy population from Asia with vast wealth, acquired such power that, stranger though he was, the country was called after him; and this power fortune saw fit materially to increase in the hands of his descendants. Eurystheus had been killed in Attica by the Heraclids. Atreus was his mother’s brother; and to the hands of his relation, who had left his father on account of the death of Khrysippus, Eurystheus, when he set out on his expedition, had committed Mycenae and the government. As time went on and Eurystheus did not return, Atreus complied with the wishes of the Mycenaeans, who were influenced by fear of the Heraclids—besides, his power seemed considerable, and he had not neglected to court the favour of the populace—and assumed the sceptre of Mycenae and the rest of the dominions of Eurystheus. And so the power of the descendants of Pelops came to be greater than that of the descendants of Perseus. To all this Agamemnon succeeded. He had also a navy far stronger than his contemporaries, so that, in my opinion, fear was quite as strong an element as love in the formation of the confederate expedition. The strength of his navy is shown by the fact that his own was the largest contingent, and that of the Arcadians was furnished by him; this at least is what Homer says, if his testimony is deemed sufficient. Besides, in his account of the transmission of the scepter, he calls him “Of many an isle and of all Argos king”. Now Agamemnon’s was a continental power; and he could not have been master of any except the adjacent islands (and these would not be many), but through the possession of a fleet.
And from this expedition we may infer the character of earlier enterprises. Now Mycenae may have been a small place, and many of the towns of that age may appear comparatively insignificant, but no exact observer would therefore feel justified in rejecting the estimate given by the poets and by tradition of the magnitude of the armament. For I suppose if Lacedaemon were to become desolate, and the temples and the foundations of the public buildings were left, that as time went on there would be a strong disposition with posterity to refuse to accept her fame as a true exponent of her power. And yet they occupy two-fifths of Peloponnese and lead the whole, not to speak of their numerous allies without. Still, as the city is neither built in a compact form nor adorned with magnificent temples and public edifices, but composed of villages after the old fashion of Hellas, there would be an impression of inadequacy. Whereas, if Athens were to suffer the same misfortune, I suppose that any inference from the appearance presented to the eye would make her power to have been twice as great as it is. We have therefore no right to be skeptical, nor to content ourselves with an inspection of a town to the exclusion of a consideration of its power; but we may safely conclude that the armament in question surpassed all before it, as it fell short of modern efforts; if we can here also accept the testimony of Homer’s poems, in which, without allowing for the exaggeration which a poet would feel himself licensed to employ, we can see that it was far from equaling ours. He has represented it as consisting of twelve hundred vessels; the Boeotian complement of each ship being a hundred and twenty men, that of the ships of Philoctetes fifty. By this, I conceive, he meant to convey the maximum and the minimum complement: at any rate, he does not specify the amount of any others in his catalogue of the ships. That they were all rowers as well as warriors we see from his account of the ships of Philoctetes, in which all the men at the oar are bowmen. Now it is improbable that many supernumeraries sailed, if we accept the kings and high officers; especially as they had to cross the open sea with munitions of war, in ships, moreover, that had no decks, but were equipped in the old piratical fashion. So that if we strike the average of the largest and smallest ships, the number of those who sailed will appear inconsiderable, representing, as they did, the whole force of Hellas. And this was due not so much to scarcity of men as of money. Difficulty of subsistence made the invaders reduce the numbers of the army to a point at which it might live on the country during the prosecution of the war. Even after the victory they obtained on their arrival—and a victory there must have been, or the fortifications of the naval camp could never have been built—there is no indication of their whole force having been employed; on the contrary, they seem to have turned to cultivation of the Chersonese and to piracy from want of supplies. This was what really enabled the Trojans to keep the field for ten years against them; the dispersion of the enemy making them always a match for the detachment left behind. If they had brought plenty of supplies with them, and had persevered in the war without scattering for piracy and agriculture, they would have easily defeated the Trojans in the field, since they could hold their own against them with the division on service. In short, if they had stuck to the siege, the capture of Troy would have cost them less time and less trouble. But as want of money proved the weakness of earlier expeditions, so from the same cause even the one in question, more famous than its predecessors, may be pronounced on the evidence of what it effected to have been inferior to its renown and to the current opinion about it formed under the tuition of the poets.
Even after the Trojan War, Hellas was still engaged in removing and settling, and thus could not attain to the quiet which must precede growth. The late return of the Hellenes from Ilium caused many revolutions, and factions ensued almost everywhere; and it was the citizens thus driven into exile who founded the cities. Sixty years after the capture of Ilium, the modern Boeotians were driven out of Arne by the Thessalians, and settled in the present Boeotia, the former Kadmeis; though there was a division of them there before, some of whom joined the expedition to Ilium. Twenty years later, the Dorians and the Heraclids became masters of Peloponnese; so that much had to be done and many years had to elapse before Hellas could attain to a durable tranquility undisturbed by removals, and could begin to send out colonies, as Athens did to Ionia and most of the islands, and the Peloponnesians to most of Italy and Sicily and some places in the rest of Hellas. All these places were founded subsequently to the war with Troy.
But as the power of Hellas grew, and the acquisition of wealth became more an object, the revenues of the states increasing, tyrannies were by their means established almost everywhere—the old form of government being hereditary monarchy with definite prerogatives—and Hellas began to fit out fleets and apply herself more closely to the sea. It is said that the Corinthian’s were the first to approach the modern style of naval architecture, and that Corinth was the first place in Hellas where galleys were built; and we have Ameinocles, a Corinthian shipwright, making four ships for the Samians. Dating from the end of this war, it is nearly three hundred years ago that Ameinocles went to Samos. Again, the earliest sea-fight in history was between the Corinthians and Korkyraeans; this was about two hundred and sixty years ago, dating from the same time. Planted on an isthmus, Corinth had from time out of mind been a commercial emporium; as formerly almost all communication between the Hellenes within and without Peloponnese was carried on overland, and the Corinthian territory was the highway through which it travelled. She had consequently great money resources, as is shown by the epithet “wealthy” bestowed by the old poets on the place, and this enabled her, when traffic by sea became more common, to procure her navy and put down piracy; and as she could offer a mart for both branches of the trade, she acquired for herself all the power which a large revenue affords. Subsequently the Ionians attained to great naval strength in the reign of Cyrus, the first king of the Persians, and of his son Cambyses, and while they were at war with the former commanded for a while the Ionian sea. Polycrates also, the tyrant of Samos, had a powerful navy in the reign of Cambyses, with which he reduced many of the islands, and among them Rhenea, which he consecrated to the Delian Apollo. About this time also the Phokaeans, while they were founding Marseilles, defeated the Carthaginians in a sea-fight. These were the most powerful navies. And even these, although so many generations had elapsed since the Trojan War, seem to have been principally composed of the old fifty-oars and long-boats, and to have counted few galleys among their ranks. Indeed it was only shortly the Persian war, and the death of Darius the successor of Cambyses, that the Sicilian tyrants and the Corcyraeans acquired any large number of galleys. For after these there were no navies of any account in Hellas till the expedition of Xerxes; Aegina, Athens, and others may have possessed a few vessels, but they were principally fifty-oars. It was quite at the end of this period that the war with Aegina and the prospect of the barbarian invasion enabled Themistocles to persuade the Athenians to build the fleet with which they fought at Salamis; and even these vessels had not complete decks.
The navies, then, of the Hellenes during the period we have traversed were what I have described. All their insignificance did not prevent their being an element of the greatest power to those who cultivated them, alike in revenue and in dominion. They were the means by which the islands were reached and reduced, those of the smallest area falling the easiest prey. Wars by land there were none, none at least by which power was acquired; we have the usual border contests, but of distant expeditions with conquest for object we hear nothing among the Hellenes. There was no union of subject cities round a great state, no spontaneous combination of equals for confederate expeditions; what fighting there was consisted merely of local warfare between rival neighbors. The nearest approach to a coalition took place in the old war between Chalcis and Eretria; this was a quarrel in which the rest of the Hellenic name did to some extent take sides.
Various, too, were the obstacles which the national growth encountered in various localities. The power of the Ionians was advancing with rapid strides, when it came into collision with Persia, under King Cyrus, who, after having dethroned Croesus and overrun everything between the Halys and the sea, stopped not till he had reduced the cities of the coast; the islands being only left to be subdued by Darius and the Phoenician navy.
Again, wherever there were tyrants, their habit of providing simply for themselves, of looking solely to their personal comfort and family aggrandizement, made safety the great aim of their policy, and prevented anything great proceeding from them; though they would each have their affairs with their immediate neighbors. All this is only true of the mother country, for in Sicily they attained to very great power. Thus for a long time everywhere in Hellas do we find causes which make the states alike incapable of combination for great and national ends, or of any vigorous action of their own.
But at last a time came when the tyrants of Athens and the far older tyrannies of the rest of Hellas were, with the exception of those in Sicily, once and for all put down by Lacedaemon; for this city, though after the settlement of the Dorians, its present inhabitants, it suffered from factions for an unparalleled length of time, still at a very early period obtained good laws, and enjoyed a freedom from tyrants which was unbroken; it has possessed the same form of government for more than four hundred years, reckoning to the end of the late war, and has thus been in a position to arrange the affairs of the other states. Not many years after the deposition of the tyrants, the battle of Marathon was fought between the Medes and the Athenians. Ten years afterwards, the barbarian returned with the armada for the subjugation of Hellas. In the face of this great danger, the command of the confederate Hellenes was assumed by the Lacedaemonians in virtue of their superior power; and the Athenians, having made up their minds to abandon their city, broke up their homes, threw themselves into their ships, and became a naval people. This coalition, after repulsing the barbarian, soon afterwards split into two sections, which included the Hellenes who had revolted from the King, as well as those who had aided him in the war. At the end of the one stood Athens, at the head of the other Lacedaemon, one the first naval, the other the first military power in Hellas. For a short time the league held together, till the Lacedaemonians and Athenians quarreled and made war upon each other with their allies, a duel into which all the Hellenes sooner or later were drawn, though some might at first remain neutral. So that the whole period from the Median war to this, with some peaceful intervals, was spent by each power in war, either with its rival, or with its own revolted allies, and consequently afforded them constant practice in military matters, and that experience which is learnt in the school of danger.
The policy of Lacedaemon was not to exact tribute from her allies, but merely to secure their subservience to her interests by establishing oligarchies among them; Athens, on the contrary, had by degrees deprived hers of their ships, and imposed instead contributions in money on all except Chios and Lesbos. Both found their resources for this war separately to exceed the sum of their strength when the alliance flourished intact.
Having now given the result of my inquiries into early times, I grant that there will be a difficulty in believing every particular detail. The way that most men deal with traditions, even traditions of their own country, is to receive them all alike as they are delivered, without applying any critical test whatever. The general Athenian public fancy that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton, not knowing that Hippias, the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and that Hipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers; and that Harmodius and Aristogiton suspecting, on the very day, nay at the very moment fixed on for the deed, that information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned, and did not attack him, yet, not liking to be apprehended and risk their lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus near the temple of the daughters of Leos, and slew him as he was arranging the Panathenaic procession.
There are many other unfounded ideas current among the rest of the Hellenes, even on matters of contemporary history, which have not been obscured by time. For instance, there is the notion that the Lacedaemonian kings have two votes each, the fact being that they have only one; and that there is a company of Pitane, there being simply no such thing. So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand. On the whole, however, the conclusions I have drawn from the proofs quoted may, I believe, safely be relied on. Assuredly they will not be disturbed either by the lays of a poet displaying the exaggeration of his craft, or by the compositions of the chroniclers that are attractive at truth’s expense; the subjects they treat of being out of the reach of evidence, and time having robbed most of them of historical value by enthroning them in the region of legend. Turning from these, we can rest satisfied with having proceeded upon the clearest data, and having arrived at conclusions as exact as can be expected in matters of such antiquity. To come to this war: despite the known disposition of the actors in a struggle to overrate its importance, and when it is over to return to their admiration of earlier events, yet an examination of the facts will show that it was much greater than the wars which preceded it.
With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one’s memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said. And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most severe and detailed tests possible. My conclusions have cost me some labor from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by different eye-witnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimes from undue partiality for one side or the other. The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest; but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.
The Median War, the greatest achievement of past times, yet found a speedy decision in two actions by sea and two by land. The Peloponnesian War was prolonged to an immense length, and, long as it was, it was short without parallel for the misfortunes that it brought upon Hellas. Never had so many cities been taken and laid desolate, here by the barbarians, here by the parties contending (the old inhabitants being sometimes removed to make room for others); never was there so much banishing and blood-shedding, now on the field of battle, now in the strife of faction. Old stories of occurrences handed down by tradition, but scantily confirmed by experience, suddenly ceased to be incredible; there were earthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence; eclipses of the sun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history; there were great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines, and that most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague. All this came upon them with the late war, which was begun by the Athenians and Peloponnesians by the dissolution of the thirty years’ truce made after the conquest of Euboea. To the question why they broke the treaty, I answer by placing first an account of their grounds of complaint and points of difference, which no one may ever have to ask the immediate cause which plunged the Hellenes into a war of such magnitude. The real cause I consider to be the one which was formally most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable. Still it is well to give the grounds alleged by either side which led to the dissolution of the treaty and the breaking out of the war


REFERENCE: History of the Peloponnesian War; BY Thucydides
Translated by Richard Crawley

Peloponnesian War: Dispute Over Epidamnus (435-3 B.C.E.) the beginning

The city of Edidamnus is on the right approach to the Ionic Gulf. It is in foreign territory that is in habited by an Illyrian race called the Taulantians. The place is a colony of Korkyra and it was founded by Phalius, the son of Eraocleides, a Korinthian of the family of the Heraclids. In accordance with the old custom, the founder had been invited from the mother city. Among the colonist there were also a certain number of Korinthians and some other Dorians.

As time went on Epidamnus became both powerful and populous; but there followed many years of political unrest, caused, they say, by a war with the foreign inhabitants of the country. As a result of this Epidamnus declined and lost most of her power. Finally, just before the war between Athens and Sparta, the democratic party drove out the aristocratic party, who then went over to the foreign enemies of the city and joined them in making piratical attacks on it both by sea and by land. The Democrats inside the city now found themselves in difficulties and sent an embassy to Korkyra, begging their mother country not to allow them to perish, and asking for help both in making some settlement with the exiled party and in putting an end to the war with the foreigners. The ambassador’s took up their position in the temple of Hera in Korkyra, and there made their requests, but the people of Korykra refused to receive the ambassadors and sent them back without having achieved anything.

When the people in Epidamnus realized that no help was forthcoming from Korkrya, they were at a loss how to deal with the situation. They therefore sent to Delphi to inquire from the god whether they should hand over their city to the Korinthians, who had founded it, and so get help from that quarter. The reply from Delphi was that they should hand over their city and accept the leadership of Korinth, and make over the colony to the Korinthians. They pointed out that the original founder had come from Korinth; they made public the reply which they had received from Delphi, and they begged the Korinthians to come to their help and not allow them to be destroyed.

The Korinthians agreed to come to their assistance. They felt they had a good right to do so, since they regarded the colony as belonging just as much to them as to Korkrya; and at the same time they hated the Korkryaeans because they failed to show Korinth the respect due from a colony to the mother city. Unlike their other colonies, the Korkryaeans did not give to Korinthians the usual rights and honours at public festivals or allow them the correct facilities for making sacrifices. Instead they looked down upon their mother country, claiming that their financial power at this time made them equal with the richest states in Hellas and that their military resources were greater than those of Korinth. In particular they boasted of their naval superiority, sometimes even basing this claim on the ground that those famous sailors the Phaeacians had inhabited Korkrya before them. This belief did in fact encourage to give particular attention to their navy, which was by no means as inconsiderable one. They had, at the outbreak of war, a fleet of 120 triremes.

All this caused ill feelings, and so the Korinthians were glad enough to send to Epidamnus the help required. They advertised for volunteers to settle there, and sent out a force consisting of Ambraciots, Leucadians, and their own citizens. This force marched by land to Apollonia, a Korinthian colony, avoiding the sea route out of fear that they might be intercepted by the Korkyraeans.

When the Korkyraeans discovered that the settlers and the troops arrived at Epidamnus and that the colony hand been handed over to Korinth, they reacted violently. As soon as the news arrived they put to sea and with twenty-five ships, which were soon followed by another fleet. Sailing up to Epidamnus, they demanded in the most threating and abusive language first that the Epidamnians should reinstate the exiled party. These exiles meanwhile, had come to Korkyra, had appealed to the claims of their family connections (pointing out the tombs of their own ancestors there), and begging for help in being brought back. Secondly they demanded that the Epidamnians should away the troops and settlers that had come from Korinth.

The Epidamnians rejected both demands, and the Korkyraeans began operations against them with a fleet of forty ships. They had with them the exiles, whom they promised to restore to power, and also the Illyrian army. Taking up their positions in front of the city, they proclaimed an offer of immunity to all, whether citizens or not, who would abandon the city; those who failed to take advantage of the opportunity would be treated as enemies. Then, since there was no response to this offer, they began to besiege the city, which stands on the isthmus.

Messengers soon arrived at Korinth with the news that Epidamnus was being besieged, and the Korinthians began to equip a relief force. At the same time they advertised for volunteers to form a new colony at Epidamnus. Those who went out there were to have absolutely equal rights, and those who were not prepared to sail at once, but still wanted to have a share in the colony, could buy this share, together with the right of remaining behind, by putting doe the sum of fifty Korinthian drachmae. There was a wide response to this offer both from people who wanted to sail at once and from people who paid the deposit. Various cities were asto help with ships to escort the convoy in case the Korkyraeans attempted to intercept it. Megara provided eith ships; Pale the Cephallenian city, provided four; five ships came from the Epidaurus, one form Herione, two from Troezen, ten from Leucas, and eight from Ambracia. The Thebans and Phliasians were asked to provide money, the Eleans were asked for money and also for hulls. The Korinthians themselves equipped a fleet of thirty ships and 3,000 hoplites.

When the Korkyraeans heard of these preparations they sent an embassy to Korinth, accompanied by some envoys from Sparta and Sikyon to support them. There they demanded that Korinth should withdrawal her troops and colonists from Epidamus, since Epidamnus was no concern of theirs. They were prepared, however, if Korinth wished to put in a counter claim, to accept arbitration. Cities in the Peloponnese should be chosen by mutual agreement to act as arbitrators, and the colony should go to whichever side the arbitrators awarded it. Alternatively, they proposed referring the matter to the oracle of Delphi. They urged Korinth not to start a war, say that, if she did, they themselves, through no fault of their own, would be forced in sheer self-defense to make friends elsewhere and in quarters where they had no wish to make friends.

The Korinthian reply to this was that if Korkyra withdrew the fleet and foreign army from Epidamnus, then discussion might be profitable, but it was quite absurd to talk of arbitration while the city was still besieged.

The Korkyraeans countered by saying that if the Korinthians also withdraw their forces from Epidamnus, they would do as was suggested. Or, they were prepared to let both sides stay in their present positions and to arrange an armistice to remain in operation until the result of the arbitration was declared.

None of these proposals was acceptable to the Korinthians. By this time their ships were manned and their allies were ready. They sent in front of them a herald to declare war, and then set sail with a force of seventy-five ships and 2,000 hoplites to fight against the Korkryaeans at Epidamnus. The fleet was under the command of Aristeus, son of Pellichas, Callicrates, son of Callias, andTimanor, son of Timanthes. The land forces were commanded by Archetimus, son of Eutytimus and Isarchidas, the son of Isarchus.

They sailed on as far as Actium in Anactoria, at the mouth Ambracian Gulf, where the temple of Apollo stands. Here they were met by a herald from the Korkryaeans who had sailed out in a light boat with instructions to urge them not to attack. At the same time the Korkyraeans were manning their ships; they had fitted new crossbeams in the old vessels to make them sea-worthy and had seen to it that the rest of their fleet was ready for action.

By the time their herald had returned and reported that his offers of peace had been rejected, the ships, eighty of them in all, were manned (forty were still engaged in the siege of Epidamnus). They then put out to sea against the enemy, formed a line, and went into action. The result of the engagement was a decisive victory for the Korkyraeans, who destroyed fifteen Korinthain ships. It happened that on that very same day the besiegers of Epidamnus had forced the city to surrender, the terms being that all foreign troops and settlers in the garrison should be sold as slaves and that Korinthian citizens should be held as prisoners pending further decision.

After the battle the Korkyraeans put up a trophy on Leukimme, a headland of Korkyra. They then put all their prisoners to death, with the exception of the Korinthians, whom they still kept in custody.

The Korinthian and their allies went back home after their defeat in the sea battle, and now Korkyra had complete control of the seas in her own area. A Korkyraean fleet decended on Leukas, a colony of Korinth, and laid its territory waste. They also burnt Cyllene, the Elean port, because the Eeans had provided Korinth with ships and money. So for the most time after the battle the Korkyraeans kept control of the sea and sent fleets to attack the allies of Korinth. Finally, however, at the beginning of the following summer, Korinth, seeing the difficulties in which her allies were placed, sent out a fleet and army. This force, in order to protect Leikas and other friendly cities, held and fortified positions at Actium and around Chimerium in Thesprotis. The Korkyraeans, also with naval and land forces, took up positions opposite them at Leukimme. Here they stayed for the rest of the summer, neither side making any move, and it was not until the beginnings of winter that they retired to their home bases.


Source: History of the Peloponnesian War; (Book 1) By Thucydides
Translated by: Rex Warner