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The St. Mihiel Salient

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The Moselle River at Bois l'Eveque The Regiment arrived at Champigneulles on the early morning of August 1st, 1918, and was given a much-needed rest and a chance to clean up again. The necessary replacements arrived and short periods of Infantry drill and Engineer work were given to the men. On August 5th the Regiment moved by marching to its new station in the woods one kilometer north of Belleville and pitched camp in the middle of a dark, rainy night. At this place Engineer and Infantry work was resumed by Companies "A", "B", "D" and "E", while Companies "C" and "F" relieved the French Engineers on the work in the front line trenches. Detachments were sent out for work on Groups de Combat, wire entanglements, abris, trenches, dugouts, machine gun positions and other fortifications in this sector. This was a continuation of the work the French Engineers had been doing several years and the Second Engineers were highly commended for the progress they made.

On August 15th, the Second Division was relieved by the Eighty-Second Division, and the four Companies of the Second Engineers which had not been actively engaged in the sector were marched to their new station in the Bois de l'Eveque, near Toul. Companies "C" and "F" continued on their work on the front line fortifications until August 18th, at which time they were relieved by the 307th Engineers and rejoined the Regiment at the new camp on the beautiful Moselle.

During the period from August 18th to September 3rd, the Regiment engaged itself in Infantry and Engineer training — special emphasis being made on wire cutting and the use of Bangalore torpedoes — preparatory to the offensive, which was soon to take place.

While the Regiment was in this camp the men got their first opportunity for leaves to the regular leave centers, and each Company sent several men away for two weeks of real enjoyment. Those who stayed with their Companies were given plenty of opportunities to swim in the Moselle, which flowed at the foot of the hill on which the Regiment lived.

On the evening of September 3rd, the Regiment left Camp Bois de l'Eveque for La Cumejie Woods, making an intermediate stop in the woods near Aingeray, September 4th. The following night, the march was resumed and the destination reached just before dawn, September 5th. "A" Company and "D" Company were sent to Domevre and Bouvron, respectively, on the night of September 6th, where they split into detachments, which were to accompany various Infantry Units. For the next three days, September 7th, 8th and 9th, the remaining Companies were given Infantry drill and instructions by the various specialists of the Regiment. On September 9th, Companies "B", "C" "E" and "F" marched to the Bois des Hayes along muddy roads that were congested with the traffic of war, and arriving at the destination in the middle of a dark rainy night, each man fell down to sleep regardless of the falling showers.

Companies "A" and "D" were broken up and sent to the Infantry, Marines, Tanks and Artillery.

Herley's Notes: I went with tanks.

The detachments that were used as wire-cutters accompanied the assaulting waves over the top. Others worked with the Tanks, some with the Artillery, and still others in every place in the Second Division area where Engineers were expected to be used. About 6 o'clock that morning, Companies "B", "C', "E" and "F" started towards the jumping off place just outside of Limey. The work assigned to these companies was mostly technical. It consisted of building and repairing roads and bridges, the location and destruction of traps and the location and examination of water sources. Following closely behind the Infantry, the Second Engineers upheld their "work all night and fight all day" slogan by building and repairing roads for the movement of our big guns and ammunition, as well as consolidating new positions under heavy shell fire from the enemy.

The groups of Engineers who accompanied the Infantry over the top were especially commended for their bravery and good work. Armed with bangalore torpedoes and wire-cutters, they went through the successive bands of barbed-wire that protected the enemy's front lines, making it possible for the Infantry which was following, to dash through in irresistible waves on scheduled time. The enemy, who was already demoralized by our artillery fire, was completely routed in this engagement by the sudden appearance of the Americans out of the fog.

After a wonderful Artillery barrage of four hours, the Infantry went over the top at 5:00 A.M. on September 12th, followed closely by the Marines as support. They swept everything in front of them and reached their final objectives several hours ahead of time. The detachments of "A" Company went with the assaulting waves and those of "D" Company with the support waves. In the capture of Jaulny, Corporal Thomas D. Saunders of Company "A" and Private Alfred Wilkerson of Company "B" displayed extraordinary heroism by entering the town ahead of the Infantry and each were later awarded the D.S.C. An outstanding feature of the Engineers' work during this battle was the capture, repair and operation of a German light railway. Tracks that had been torn to bits by the American barrage, and engines that had been damaged and abandoned were repaired. In twenty-four hours, the new front lines were connected with the rear and ammunition and stakes were being rushed to the Artillery and Infantry.

On the night of September 15th-16th, after the detachments of Companies "A" and "D"' had been assembled and the Companies reformed, the Regiment was relieved and placed in reserve. It then marched to the woods near Ansauville where it pitched camp and rested for three days. On September 19th, the Corps Engineer ordered the Second Engineers to work on the road between Limey and Euvezin, in the section it had just left. That night, the Regiment moved up to this area, but had worked only one day on the roads when it was ordered to move with the Division to its new area near Toul. On this hike the men all had very heavy packs and the day was hot. The hike was thirty-two kilometers long, and finished with a long, steep climb up the hill to Fort d' Ecrouves. The Regiment remained in this area for six days, during which time clothes were issued and everyone was given an opportunity to readjust himself. A drill schedule was carried out for eight hours a day, and a large percent of the men were given passes to visit Toul in the evenings. Infantry drill consisted of close order drills, and parades, which were especially emphasized, and some Engineer drill. Several problems in the location and organization of positions were worked out, with a view to the method of hasty fortifications. These maneuvers were subsequently of great practical value.

United States, and John Archer Lejeune. 1919.
A History Of The Second Regiment Of Engineers, United States Army:
From Its Organization In Mexico, 1916, To Its Watch On The Rhine, 1919
[Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified].
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