Chapter V — Blanc Mont
(September 28, 1918 to October 10, 1918)
|General Plan of Marshal Foch.
At the same time that the attack was made by the Americans on the Verdun
Front, the French planned to attack to the east of Rheims, in order
to force the Germans to abandon their lines and fall back there
and also in front of Rheims. This country was the same country
which was the scene of the Champagne Offensives by the Germans
and by the French, both of which were very costly to the attacking
forces. The German lines around Rheims were deemed too difficult
to attack, but the lines north of Chalons were deemed practicable.
If defeated there, the Germans would be forced to fall back to
the Aisne River and Attigny and abandon their lines in front of
Rheims. Marshal Foch asked for an American Division to help him
and it is reported that he asked that the 2nd Division be sent;
at any rate, the 2nd Division was sent from Toul and joined the
The French attacked before we reached the battle area and drove
back the Germans from Souain to Somme-Py. The 2nd Division was
then called upon to move forward. Meanwhile, it had moved from
Toul to this new area. On the night of September 27-28, the 2nd
Engineers moved by train from Fort d'Ecrouves and reached the vicinity
of Chalons on the next night the 1st Battalion and Regimental Headquarters
resting at St. Germain, and the 2nd Battalion and the Engineer
Train at Vesigneulles. This was the first move by train in which
the regiment ever received what is considered ample transportation.
The next day, the 2nd Division Field Order No. 25, was received,
directing movement forward.
On September 29, we started for the front; the troops embussed
at 5:30 P. M. and were debussed about two miles south of Suippes.
The Field Train and the Supply Train started that morning and camped
that night at Camp De Normande near the regiment. On September
30 the troops and Field Train were assembled at Camp Du Coq, about
two miles southeast of Suippes, and the Engineer Train was placed
at Camp Piemont on the Chalons Road, about two and one-half miles
south of Suippes.
|The Problem of Battle.
The problem for the 2nd Division
was not very complicated, it being a simple matter of driving straight
forward at the same time as the French Divisions on the right and
left. There were no particular difficulties about roads or bridges,
but it was necessary to assign some men to help the Artillery in
its passage over "No Man's Land" and over the Py River.
The work of the Divisional Engineer Troops was not so difficult
as in the St. Mihiel operation, because in this present case the
French had captured the advance trenches and had cut the first
line of wire. Consequently, no wire-cutters from the 2nd Engineers
had to be detailed. The assignments of engineer troops were as
(a) One platoon from Company "D," under Lieutenant Chase,
to assist the Artillery.
(b) One platoon from Company "C," under Lieutenant Hohn,
to operate the Engineer Dumps.
(c) The remainder of the troops to work on the roads until needed
On October 1st, at 7: 00 P. M., six wagon loads of tools were
sent to a point designated two miles south of Souain, for the 4th
Brigade. 800 wire cutting tools were obtained from the French Army
Engineers, and 600 of these were sent to the same place for the
same brigade. Most of these tools were taken by the 4th Brigade,
and the remainder of the wire-cutters and other tools were moved
next day to the 2nd Engineer Dump which was established at Souain
and all the material of the 2nd Engineers was soon placed in this
dump. At 10: 00 P. M. our troops were marched to a position south
of Souain. It was intended to go north of Souain, but we had to
march off the roads in order to keep them clear for traffic: therefore
marching was so difficult and slow that daylight came before the
distance was made, and it was necessary to camp south of Souain.
The 2nd Division attacked next morning, and as usual advanced
rapidly, and successfully carried the positions in front. The work
on the roads was started promptly by the 2nd Engineers on the same
date and progressed very well until 6: 00 P. M. At that time we
began to experience difficulties, owing to French control of dumps
and roads resulting in a lack of understanding and coordination.
First, the Colonel of the XI Corps (French) would not give us engineer
material in his dump at Souain so that Colonel Mitchell had to
make a special trip to the General of Engineers of the 4th Army
(French) and get his written permission to use this material. This
took 10 hours. Likewise we were delayed considerably because the
Colonel of the XI Corps (French) had instructed us that we must
confine our work to the south of Navarin Farm; that he would take
care of roads north of Navarin Farm and the bridges in Sornme-Py.
This meant that there was no object in working in the night time,
in order to avoid shell fire; so our engineers were, called in,
as they could work better if given a much needed night's rest.
At 11: 00 P. M. we succeeded in getting these orders revoked and
the troops were turned out to work on the road north of Navarin
Farm until morning, this area being exposed to shell fire and under
The matter of working on the Highways was definitely settled after
two days of lack of definite instructions (although we were already
working just as we wished) by a decision of the French Army Engineer
that the Xl Corps (French) had nothing to do with these roads,
and the XXI corps (French) and the Fourth Army would be assisted
on roads by the 2nd Engineers; but that the 2nd Engineers could
work in the advance area beyond the crest of the hill at Navarin
Farm in the area exposed to German fire, just as we had already
been working for two days. This decision appeared to be unusually
wise, but the roads beyond the crest of the hill were found to
be so good that it was very soon decided to bring half of the men
back to the bad stretch of about half a mile near Navarin Farm
where the French had planked a one-way road over the waste area
and where traffic was continually being held up.
The most difficult part of the roads here was at Navarin Farm
and just north of it. There were two big craters, in this section,
and as stated before, the French had planked a one-way road around
these craters. The first day we went by these craters and worked
on to Somme-Py, but one day's work there was sufficient for immediate
purposes, so we went back to the road north of Navarin Farm and
to the mine craters. Company "A" was placed on this
work and continued there until it was finished after which it moved
north just in time to be sent into line as fighting troops. The
ground where Company "A" worked had been torn up by four
years of fighting and all evidences of a road had vanished. The
French temporary wooden road was about half a kilometer in length,
and was good only for one way traffic and even that was rapidly
going to pieces. The 2nd Engineers
had to make a two-way stone road at this place without interrupting
the traffic that the road was then carrying. By using a little
judgment, we managed it easily. A dirt fill was first thrown up
by the side of the wooden roadway and tamped by hand with short
pit props, as the earth was very dry and loose. Thus we had first
the wooden road and the dirt fill road alongside. Next, as the
weather was dry, we were able to construct in a similar way, a
wide detour for light traffic thus securing a third road which
was used by light traffic and relieved the congestion on the main
road. The dirt filled road was then surfaced with stone and brick
brought from Souain by our train vehicles and also by vehicles
of the French Corps Engineer who helped with stone from Souain
and from other nearby villages. When the dirt fill (now stone)
roadbed was strong enough to sustain heavy traffic, it was turned
off of the wooden road and that torn up. The dirt fill (stone)
road was then widened on the old foundation until we had a strong
two-way stone road.
The whole operation was favored by dry weather and the 2nd Engineers
were assisted by part of the Infantry and Marines, who had been
held out of the fighting. These Infantry and Marines were of great
assistance at first, but their numbers very soon become so small,
owing to many details, etc.—the Marines soon disappearing
altogether—that this help was not very great.
Company "A" is especially to be commended for the unusual
efficiency shown in performing this work in the waste area near
Navarin Farm. It was noticed time after time that every man was
working hard, and not loafing and watching the wagons and automobiles
pass by. The work was unusually difficult, as it was necessary
to build one road, macadamize another road, and at the same time
keep up two plank roads one of which was being removed by sections
in order to make way for the macadam. This work was especially
well performed and traffic was never stopped. All of this work
was done on top of a ridge that was easily observed and registered
on, and the enemy shelled the working party quite often. However,
the men worked steadily, seeking shelter only when shells were
striking among the working parties.
This was the critical point in the line of communications; consequently
until completion of the two-way road on October 6th, it was necessary
at night to detail
a whole Company to patrol in two reliefs here and elsewhere along
the whole road from Souain to a point north of Navarin Farm, in
order to get the traffic through. This was especially difficult
work, and Lieutenant Kearns, Lieutenant Gover and Lieutenant Spafford
are especially to be commended for their energy and resolution
in continually breaking up blocks in traffic formed by well-meaning
or ill-meaning efforts on the part of various chauffeurs and drivers
to obtain results for their own vehicles regardless of others.
Maps were prepared by the map section, under Captain Sargent, and
fifty copies were distributed among the men regulating the traffic;
traffic regulations were also issued.
The road situation was rendered more easy by the fact that the
ground was sufficiently hard to use the French System of parallel
Pistes, that is, wagon roads on each side of the main paved road
at a distance of 500 yards, more or less, A company was placed
on the piste on the east side of the main road and one on the piste
on the west side. These pistes were particularly useful, because
it very soon became evident that the excellent paved road maintained
by means of repairs made by the 2nd Engineers was being thoroughly
appreciated by the different divisions to our right and left and
by the French Corps and Army Troops. Again we experienced a delightful
sensation of being appreciated. Looking up from our work, we could
see a varied assortment of troops of all kinds and insignia and
markings coming we knew not whence, going we knew not where, but
at least using our roads. The pistes carried the animal traffic
and the paved road carried the motor traffic.
In the matter of bridges, two of the companies did excellent
work. Captain Wyman, with Company "F" on October 3, built
a bridge 100 feet long, with much fill, for the Piste de Nimes,
and Captain Hetrick, with Company "D" built a wagon
road through the ruins of Somme-Py, and a bridge across the Py. By the evening of October 3rd, both the Piste de Nimes and the
Piste des Cuisines were open as far as Blanc Mont and Medeah Farm
The center bridge at Somme-Py had not been completed by the French
by 10:00 A. M. on October 4, although they had promised to finish
it the day before. We induced the French to allow us to finish
the bridge and turned it over to Captain
Hetrick of Company "D," who used one platoon and some special
men on the job. By 6: 00 P. M. that day he had driven five more piles,
and as it was getting dark he found it necessary to put the men to
work at double time. As a result of such efficiency, the bridge was
available for traffic by 7:30 P. M. and the finishing touches were
added next morning.
The Engineer Train rendered especially effective
work. On October 2nd, it moved to Souain, and the next day took
over the Engineer Dump at that point. The platoon under Lieutenant
Hohn loaded all the wagons and trucks which carried the stone and
brick for building the macadamized roads around the craters north
of Navarin Farm. This platoon at the Engineer Dump, under Lieutenant
Hohn, also built a stockade at Souain for German prisoners. The
work was particularly well done, because he was not notified until
nearly nighttime, and he built most of the stockade in darkness
during the early evening.
At 5:00 P. M. October 3rd, two wagon loads of tools were sent
to the bridge north of Somme-Py for the 4th Brigade, and it was
notified that they were there. At 7:00 P. M. two more wagon loads
of tools were sent to the same place for the 3rd Brigade. Every
effort was made to notify the Infantry that these tools were there,
but the Signal Corps was unable to reach them, and a special runner
who was sent out was unable to find them. However, many of the
tools disappeared, so it is supposed that the Infantry found them.
About 6:00 P. M. October 4, information was again received that
the Infantry wanted tools, so by 7:00 P. M. about 2,000 shovels
and half that many picks were placed on wagons and started for
the line, where they were to be distributed between the Infantry
and the Marines. During the afternoon, an Engineer dump with six
wagon loads of tools and material, was established at Schwaben
Koning Dugout near the junction of the roads at 267.7 281.1. A
Master Engineer and two men were sent to make an inventory of the
two German Engineer Dumps captured by the 2nd Division south and
southwest of St. Etienne, with instructions to give the information
also to the Infantry.
The Map Section also, for the first time, operated
with considerable efficiency. It made a thorough reconnaissance
of the Pistes and all other possible roads to the left and right of the main highway. This was done on October 2nd, and very valuable information was given to the Assistant Provost Marshal on the night of October 3-4 and on October 4, to assist him to regulate traffic. It also made a reconnaissance to learn the possibility of connecting the 60 c. m. road of the French to that of the Germans, and on October 4th, a map was made up and sent to the Bureau of the French Army, with the request that the necessary preparations be made to make this connection, and with the statement that the 2nd Engineers would render every assistance possible; but we were never called on for help, possibly because the French lacked railway material.
Early on the morning of October 5th, a copy of the road map, prepared by the map section, was sent to Colonel Pierrot, XXI Corps (French) at Somme-Suippes, and in the afternoon another more complete map was sent him.
During the afternoon of October 6th, special details were sent out with Captain Sargent and Captain Smith to map our positions in the line, so that maps could be turned over to the relieving Brigade. Captain Sargent and Captain Smith were especially complimented by the Division Commander for their success in this dangerous work. Photographers were sent out to photograph special places.
On October 8th, the Map Detail made its first Engineer Map, which seemed to be an excellent arrangement and was continued daily when necessary. This map showed water-supply, conditions of roads, bridges &c., and gave all other available engineer information. It was issued to all troops of the division.
Late in the evening of October 4th, a hurry call was received to the effect that the Marines had struck difficult wires and needed some wire cutters. Lieutenant Benjamin was sent with a platoon of wire cutters from Company "D" to help the Marines take the machine gun posts. The men were equipped with wire cutters and rifles, and were sent up in trucks, as they were needed at once. It so happened that in the course of the fight, it developed that they were not particularly needed as wire cutters, but they stayed and fought as Infantry, and returned to the company on October 7th, having suffered five casualties. Lieutenant Benjamin and four men having been wounded. While disposing his men for the attack, Lieutenant Benjamin decided that one of his sergeants was inefficient because of cowardice, inexperience, or lack of energy or intelligence. Any one of these defects was sufficient to disqualify him to hold the rank of sergeant of the 2nd Engineers, so Lieutenant Benjamin cut off his chevrons and reduced him to the ranks. In such manner, were we able to maintain the high standard of the 2nd Engineers.
On October 8. we went into the fight again, but this time all of the regiment was used to fight. The Infantry of the 2nd Division, after jumping off on October 2, had advanced successfully, but day by day its progress was slower as the Germans put more and more troops against it. The French Divisions on our right and left were unable to keep up with the 2nd Division; and on the left the Germans actually came in behind and around the left of the 2nd Division and attacked it from the rear, so that reserves were used up to keep them back. Consequently about October 6, it became evident to Colonel Mitchell that very soon the 2nd Engineers would be needed in the front line, so he arranged our work in such a manner that all of the regiment was in camp resting on the night of October 7-8.
About 11:00 A. M. October 8, orders were received by Colonel Mitchell to reinforce the right of the line; and the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, then in line, was placed at his disposal. Also at 1:00 P. M. orders were received by him to send Lieut.-Col. Strong to reinforce the rest of the line. Both orders were to fill gaps in the line. As orders had been received about 11:00 A. M. to send a mapping detachment along the entire front line to mark out the line which was not well marked, the complete strength eventually sent into the line was reduced by one lieutenant, four sergeants, and one squad from each company, by Lieutenant Hohn's platoon from Company "C" at the Engineer Dump, and by Lieutenant Chase's platoon which was still with the Artillery, but practically all of the regiment was in the fight. Companies "A" and "C," under Major Steiner, went forward about noon to fill the gap in the right of the line. About 2:00 P. M. Company "B" was sent to reinforce Major Steiner, and the 4th Machine Gun Battalion was added to this and placed under his command to render safe the right of the line. About 2:30 P. M., Lieut.-Col. Strong, with the 2nd Battalion, was ordered to St. Etienne-a-Arnes similarly to render safe the left of the line. The Infantry then occupying the line had been considerably spread out as a result of their operations; consequently it was difficult to determine just where the Engineers should best be placed, but by dusk, October 8, Major Steiner's two companies had filled the gap in the right of the line, relieving elements of the 9th Infantry and of the 36th Division, and by 1:00 A. M. October 9, two of Lieut.-Col. Strong's companies on the left were in St. Etienne-a-Arnes and the left of the line was rendered safe.
The 4th Machine Gun Battalion had been somewhat shot up during October 7 and 8, and was unable to man all its guns; likewise, it had some guns at Suippes. Twenty-four Engineers were detailed by Colonel Mitchell from the 1st Battalion to fill the vacancies in the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, and four machine guns were procured. The detachment was drilled and trained on the morning of October 9th, and was ready for work at noon. It was sent forward to the front line about 1:30 P. M. October 9th.
The 1st Battalion, less Company "B," having received its orders at 11:00 A. M. proceeded via 71st Brigade Headquarters to the relief of all elements in the right half of the line. It marched by company, and reached a covering position near Brigade Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, about 1:00 P. M. Major Steiner, proceeding ahead, obtained what little information was available relative to the tactical
situation, obtained with great difficulty a single guide, and was able to continue the march to the front with his two companies in the early afternoon. The route which it was necessary to follow was exposed in at least two places to direct observation from the enemy, and consequently the enemy's shelling became very intense, causing a number of casualties. During this shelling Lieutenant Nolte was mortally wounded, and died; the next day. Lieutenant Tapscott was also severely wounded. Upon arrival at a covered position about 300 yards in rear of the front line, the troops were halted, and instructed to seek shelter in the immediate vicinity, taking advantage of local cover. Major Steiner, Captain Wyche and Captain Jerman proceeded forward to the Post of Command of the Commanding Officer of the 9th Infantry Battalion then in line. Upon arrival, they found that the troops in the line, as a result of their advance, were considerably spread out, and that a regularly executed relief would be impossible. It was therefore decided that Company Commanders, after making a hasty reconnaissance, should return to their companies, that Company "C" should be brought forward in skirmish line to a position in the woods about 200 yards in rear of the front line, and that they would then be placed in line by Major Steiner. Company "A" was to be brought forward and echeloned as a line of support, the left to be about 100 yards in rear of the front line, and the right to be about 200 yards from the front line, so as to be back of the right flank of the Division sector. Major Steiner, with the Commanding Officer of the 9th Infantry Battalion made a reconnaissance of the entire front line, and it was decided that the 9th Infantry should immediately be withdrawn, and that, if necessary, as the Engineers would arrive just before dusk, the line would then be strengthened by attack and made more defensible. During the relief, as had been expected, the German infiltration became more pronounced and an attack was conducted at dusk by Major Steiner with success. Two machine guns were captured and reports later received indicated that in this minor engagement a detachment [sic] of about 50 Germans, manoeuvring for a counter attack, had been wiped out.
The next morning, October 9,
it was decided that the front line should be reinforced sufficiently to permit of the use of the supports and the reserve (Company "B" which had arrived during the night before) to mop up any German detachments which had entered our lines and concealed themselves in the thick woods. This was done, infiltration was stopped, and our mopping-up detachments operated successfully during the entire day. Thereafter similar detachments did patrol duty constantly. About noon, after consultation between Major Steiner and the Battalion Commander of the French unit of the right, it was decided that an attack should be made by the Engineers so as to straighten the extreme right of our position. In the beginning of this operation, the presence and position of many concealed machine gun nests were disclosed, and these offered such terrific resistance that the sacrifice was deemed inadvisable without some further preparation, and the attack was suspended for the time. Stokes Mortars were then obtained from the French, but they had no ammunition. It was therefore necessary to rush forward from the rear as much ammunition as could be obtained. By 4:30 P. M., sufficient ammunition for a five-minute barrage from the Stokes Mortars had been brought forward and the attack was staged for 5:30 P. M. When the Germans heard the Stokes Mortars, they evidently expected an attack, and to our great discomfort placed a barrage along the entire brigade front, which lasted with intensity for thirty-five minutes. However, the attack as planned was executed, and the results were entirely satisfactory. Lieutenant Spafford, who was killed in this action, displayed extraordinary heroism and was given the
Distinguished Service Cross. He personally [sic] led his platoon forward against a very strong machine gun nest and manoeuvered it in such a manner that it suffered but slight losses. After having been wounded, he continued to direct his platoon until he received a second wound which proved fatal. In the loss of Lieutenant Spafford the Second Regiment of Engineers suffered heavily.
The 2nd Battalion was meanwhile having its troubles over on the left of the Division line. The Marines were holding the town of St. Etienne, having established themselves in this town after a very severe struggle. The cemetery to the East of St. Etienne had changed hands about six times and no one knew just who actually held the cemetery. The troops of the 36th Division had moved forward and backward along the front to the. East and Southeast of St. Etienne; and after severe fighting and loss of very many officers, the communications were so disorganized that it was not known just where the lines were located. It was known that Lieutenant Overton with what was left of his Marines was holding St. Etienne and that there was a large gap between the town itself and the troops of the 36th Division off somewhere to the East. In this emergency the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Engineers was rushed forward about 2:00 P. M. to close the gap. Companies "E" and "F" entered the town and Company "D" was held in reserve.
Company "E" took up a first line position along the north bank of the creek running parallel to the front and beyond the town of St. Etienne. It joined with Lieutenant Overton's detachment on its left, and extended its right well to the eastward, thus barring all direct approach, for the Germans to the town and the Engineer Dump.
Company "F" took up a position to the East of St. Etienne and on the south bank of the creek. It made hasty strong points in the Cemetery, forming a support line to Company "E" and also covering Company "E's" right against flank attack. Although back of Company "E," this exposed position brought upon Company "P" an even greater shelling than was given Company "E." and its casualties were greater. Company "D" was held in reserve on the south slope of the ridge south of the town.
As soon as Companies "E" and "F" were established in position Captain Peck commanding these two companies in St. Etienne sent reconnaissance parties off to the right to communicate with the 36th Division. These parties were either killed or returned without locating our friends to the right; consequently on the morning of October 9th. Captain Peck and Captain Wyman personally went on this reconnaissance. Although it involved unusual danger. Captain Peck deemed the conditions justified the risk. He succeeded in locating the troops on the right and made arrangement to connect with them; but just as he and Captain Wyman returned to the cemetery, he was struck by fragments of a shell and died within 10 minutes. Captain Peck's loss was a great calamity to the regiment, especially in these very strenuous days. He was buried in the cemetery in which he fell, and a tomb stone was carved with a pocket knife by one of the men of his company and placed over his grave.
During the entire period they were in the line, both battalions were subjected to intermittent shelling of a terrific nature, but fortunately the Germans artillery did not have our line located accurately and our losses were reasonably small. The main tactical difficulty in the defense of this sector consisted in the fact that in front of the French on our right and left, the Germans held positions from which they enfiladed our positions with their machine guns; but we held our own even though fire from front and flank was continuous with shells, machine guns and sniping.
About 5:00 P. M., October 9th, Colonel Mitchell received the order that the Engineers would be relieved by dawn. Copies were at once sent to Colonel Strong and Major Steiner. All food and water wagons of the Engineers were stopped and not allowed to proceed to destination during the night. The Machine Gun Battalion was notified that it was to be relieved.
On the right Major Steiner had intended to relieve Company "C" in the front line with Company "A" but decided to hold onto the position as then constituted in view of the relief. He visited the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 141st Infantry, assisted him in locating some lost elements of his regiment which might assist in effecting the relief and gave him full details as to the exact technical requirements. About 2:00 P. M., October 10th, Captain Burgess of the 141st Infantry reported to Major Steiner that in compliance with the orders from his Regimental Commander he assumed command of the sector and the 1st Battalion 2nd Engineers could consider themselves relieved. The relief was then commenced. Company "B" was ordered to withdraw from its reserve position at once. Company "A" was allowed to withdraw immediately the least essential elements, but Major Steiner would not withdraw Company "C" and the rest of Company "A" until he had assisted Captain Burgess in disposing of elements under the latter's command, so as to strengthen as much as possible the position. This having been done, further relief was carried out with extreme caution and by 3:30 A. M., October 10th, the last element of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Engineers, had left the front line. Due to enfilading by machine guns and the excessive activity of snipers, especial caution was necessary to prevent the detection of this relief; but we were fortunate in that the relief was accomplished without casualty. The whole 1st Battalion was in camp north of Somme-Py at 5:30 A. M., October 10th.
On the left the 2nd Battalion was not so easily relieved. Company "D" was relieved easily in the night of October 9-10, but the relieving Infantry of the 36th Division could not reach St. Etienne until early morning of the 10th to relieve Companies "E" and "F." The Marines under Lieutenant Overton also were told that they were relieved from the line, but they seemed to have the same idea as the 2nd Battalion, viz; that the object was to hold the line and not to take advantage of every chance to get out of danger. Consequently Lieutenant Overton told the engineers in St. Etienne that he and his Marines were going to stick with them, and although the Germans used gas. Machine Guns, high explosives and sniping in every possible manner, Lieutenant Overton with his Marines stayed with Companies "E" and "F" of the Engineers until all could properly retire. All of Company "F" had come out by outfiltration [sic] by squads by 1:00 P. M. and Company "E" came out after dark on October 10th, so that by 11:30 P. M., October 10th, the 2nd Battalion was also in the camp north of Somme-Py.
|MEN SPECIALLY DISTINGUISHED
SEE APPENDIX No. 2
|LOSSES AND REPLACEMENTS DURING PERIOD SEPTEMBER 27, 1918 TO OCTOBER 10, 1918.
|Morning Report of September 28, 1918
|Lost by transfer, evacuation, etc
|Gain by transfer, replacements, etc
|Morning Report of October 10, 1918
|Summary of Results.
It is believed that in this operation the 2nd Engineers did about all classes of work that could have been expected of Engineer Troops, and some classes of work which could not have been expected of Engineer Troops. The following is a summary of the results accomplished, between October 2nd and October 10th, inclusive:
(a) Thirty kilometers of wagon roads were repaired and put in shape.
(b) Twelve kilometers of two-way paved road were repaired, including actual paving of 200 yards of two-way road by means of rock hauled principally by the 2nd Engineers with its Engineer Train transportation, and the temporary construction of 600 yards of side roads at the point, to carry traffic in the meanwhile.
(c) Regulation of traffic during two nights along seven kilometers of two-way road, and fifteen kilometers of wagon roads, and during two more nights, along seven kilometers of two-way road.
(d) Two bridges about 20 feet long were built to carry light traffic, one of the bridges requiring about 100 feet of fill in its approach.
(e) A pile bridge, 22 feet long, was constructed, capable of carrying the heaviest traffic.
(f) All necessary tools were furnished to the Infantry at places selected.
(g) Maps showing engineering information were prepared and distributed, daily, when necessary.
(h) The left half of the battlefield was salvaged by Engineers.
(i) Two or three pumps were repaired and the water supply materially improved thereby.
(j) Considerable material was hauled, about 500 loads of stone being hauled by the 2nd Engineer Train.
(k) Probably 1,000 German Prisoners were fed while awaiting evacuation.
(l) About 200 yards of roads were built for various Field Hospitals.
(m) Electric Light Equipment of one Field Hospital was repaired and put in shape.
(n) Two dumps of Engineer Material, captured from the Germans, were taken over, and lists made of their contents and furnished to the Chief Engineer, American Expeditionary Forces, so that the United States would get credit for the material. Later, we obtained receipts from the French for these dumps and forwarded them.
(o) A gap was filled in the right of the fighting lines; supports and reserves were placed back of this gap and other portions of the line. Four machine guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were taken by us from the Germans in front of us. These machine guns were then manned by Engineers and used effectively against the Germans.
(p) Two companies were placed in the left of the fighting line, and one company in support, thereby closing a very large gap. A few prisoners were captured.
(q) Four American machine guns were partially manned by Engineers especially detailed for this purpose.
(r) A platoon built roads for the rapid movement of the Artillery; and at one time, believing that a counter attack was imminent, this platoon gathered together some Browning and Hotchkiss machine guns, and manned them preparatory to repulsing any dangerous break-through by the Germans.
It is believed that the 2nd Engineers were used properly in every way during this campaign. The Division Commander gave no preliminary orders requiring their employment, except a general statement to the effect that they would be employed in road work and other engineering work under the orders of the Division Engineer. As a consequence they were for seven days usefully employed in maintaining the roads back of the line, and actually maintained the roads not only for the 2nd Division, but also for the Divisions on our right and left and for the French Corps and Army Troops, all of which used our roads.
It is also well to note that in this campaign the Engineers were properly used as Infantry in emergency, that is, they were not turned over by companies or battalions to Brigade or Regimental Commanders in the beginning of the battle, as this would have resulted in their being frittered away as Infantry and helping not at all as Engineers. The Division Commander on the contrary kept them out and occupied as Engineers, and when they were needed as Infantry he ordered them to the front with a very distinct mission, viz; to stop two gaps in the line and prevent the advance of the Germans and consequently rolling up of Infantry troops to the right and left. This is considered a proper use of Engineers and it is worthy of note that the operation was successful; that the Engineers stopped the gaps; that on the right they actually attacked and advanced in order to better the positions of the line as held; and that when the situation had improved, the Engineers were withdrawn and placed in position ready for further operations.
|United States, and W. A. Mitchell. 1920.
The Official History Of The Second Regiment Of Engineers And Second Engineer Train, United States Army, In The World War.
[San Antonio]: [San Antonio printing Co.].