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U.S. Participation in World War One

Brief summary of the involvement of the United States of America in the war also known as "the Great War" and "the European War of 1914-1918".

Time Line

• The government of Germany declares war against France and Britain: August 1914.

• The government of the United States declares war against Germany: 6 April 1917.

• The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) begins arriving in France: June 1917. By March 1918 there are 250,000 U.S. soldiers in France; this number increases to 1 million by July 1918 and to 2 million by November 1918. Two-thirds will see action, in 29 Divisions.

• The government of Germany signs Armistice, Western Front: 11 November 1918.


Over 70 percent of the men in the U.S. Army before the end of the War were inducted under the Selective Service Act of 18 May 1917. Soldiers were obligated to serve for the duration of the War.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest U.S. engagement. It began 26 September 1918 and ended 11 November 1918. In the three weeks fighting, the battle deaths of Americans numbered 18,000, a daily average of about 1,000.

Source: Encyclopedia American 1954, Vols. 27 and 28.

Ten percent of U.S. war casualties in World War One had Italian names, although Italian Americans were only 4 percent of the U.S. population. (U.S. Department of War)

[* see The Influenza Pandemic of 1918]

Map of Western Europe During
World War One

Map of Western Europe during World War One, 15 KB

Image Source: based on the map found in Encyclopedia American 1954, Vol. 28, page 301. Original caption: Map Showing the German Invasion at the Outbreak of War, 1914.

Montfaucon lies just northwest of Verdun, below the letter 'C' in the word 'FRANCE' on the map. [The French word faucon is "falcon" in English. Meuse is pronounced "murs" to rhyme with "furs" or "purrs" of cats.]

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive

Montfaucon-d'Argonne, a 6th Century French hilltop village in Lorraine (Department of Meuse), was an observation point for the German army until it was captured by the U.S. 37th and 79th Divisions at about noon on 27 September 1918. The U.S. offensive had begun at dawn the day before.

Montfaucon Monument Wall Map, 33 KB

The Divisions that captured the areas shown are indicated by large numerals; boundaries between Divisions are indicated by pairs of Xs. The Montfaucon Monument is indicated by the tower shape above the word 'Montfaucon' and the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery is indicated by the Cross to the east of the town of Romagne. The towns of Montfaucon and Romagne shown on the map are 5 miles apart. [There is a field Letter from France to Philadelphia by Corporal Fredrick J. Gerngross written just after the armistice describing this campaign.]

Image Source: based on part of the photograph titled Map of the Meuse-Argonne Region on the Northeast Wall of the Vestibule [of the Montfaucon Monument] found on page 20 of The American Battle Monuments Commission publication Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, 1993. The 200 ft. tall granite American Monument at Montfaucon was completed in 1933.

The Circumstances of Giovanni Angelillo's Death

Private Giovanni Angelillo, of Company K of the 315th Infantry of the 79th Division of the United States First Army, was killed in action on 27 September 1918, the second day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. His skull was shattered by a H. E. Shell in Malancourt, France, on an otherwise quiet day's advance.
  [An infantry company was a 250-man unit. (Encyc. Amer. 1954)]

Related Pages:

The Military Service Records of Giovanni Angelillo, 1917-1918, from WW1 Selective Service Registration Card to American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery record.

The 315th Infantry U.S. Army at the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, selections from the book The Official History of the 315th Infantry U.S.A. (Philadelphia, 1920).

Roster of Company "K" Third Battalion dated 1 September 1918, from the book The Official History of the 315th Infantry U.S.A..

Italian Americans in World War One

In World War I, when soldiers were classified by ethnicity, Italian Americans were found to enlist more than others.... Italian Americans were 10 percent of war casualties, although only 4 percent of the population. (Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America (1981), p. 129)

The Italians in the United States are about four percent of the whole population but the list of casualties shows a full ten percent of Italian names. (George Creel, head Public Relations section, Department of War)

An estimated 400,000 U.S. soldiers with Italian names fought in WWI. About 90,000 Italians in America returned to Italy in 1915 to serve in the Italian military. (Musmanno, The Story of the Italians in America (1965), p. 141) The principal allies of the U.S. in World War One were Britain, France and Italy, after Russia withdrew from the war following the "October Revolution" of 7-8 November 1917.

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/angelo/battlemp.html
Last revised: 7 April 2007 : 2007-04-07 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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