Archive for October, 2011

October’s Engineer Moment in History

Provided by the U.S. Army Engineer School Historian

The 6th Engineers destroyed German fortifications like this pillbox (USAES History Office)

The 6th Engineers destroyed German fortifications like this pillbox (USAES History Office)

On 26 September 1918, some 600,000 American Soldiers joined French and British forces in launching the last great offensive of the First World War – the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. The Allies planned to dislodge the Germans from strong positions between the Argonne Forest and the Meuse River in northern France.  The American forces’ initial assault along a twenty mile front bogged down after 1 October in face of stiff German resistance. More than 20,000 Engineers provided mobility to American maneuver forces by crossing rivers, breaching obstacles, and destroying fortifications (see photograph left). Among the American units was the 6th Engineer Regiment, attached to the U.S. 3rd Division. In one notable engagement during the next five weeks of combat, the 6th Engineers fought for control of Clair Chenes Woods on 20 October 1918.  The Engineers attacked the German positions and wrested the wood from the enemy. Then the Germans counterattacked in force against the out-numbered Engineers. Control of the wood changed hands in bitter fighting throughout the day. In addition to the engineering function of survivability, the Soldiers of the 6th Engineers used their skills as riflemen. They secured Clair Chenes Woods by the end of 20 October, and they maintained control for the next five days until relieved.  Several of the 6th Engineers’ Soldiers received Distinguished Service Crosses for showing bravery, resourcefulness, and coolness under enemy machine gun and artillery fire.



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