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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Major General W. G. Haan to Major General Summerall, October 17, 1918. Charles Summerall Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (143.00.00)

Breaking the Hindenberg Line

In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, U.S. forces sought to break through the Hindenberg Line, what one American general called "the most comprehensive system of leisurely prepared field defense known to history." This letter from Major General W. G. Haan described the condition of his 32nd Division, originally National Guardsmen from Michigan and Wisconsin, after three days of brutal combat to seize a vital segment of the Hindenberg Line from the Germans. The intensity of the fighting was reflected in the statistics he related. The full strength of a battalion was 1024 and a company was 256.