The Battle of Belleau Wood During WWI 

By Brandy R. Williams
via the Owlcation web site

The Battle of Belleau WoodWhat is Belleau Wood?

Belleau Wood: An Ideal Hunting Ground

Belleau Wood, half the size of America’s Central Park, had long been a hunting ground for the French aristocracy. With its dense growth and rocky terrain, it made an ideal place to hunt. In the Spring of 1918, during World War I, it became the hunting ground for a different animal. During Germany’s Spring Offensive, the German army set up machine gun nests and barbed wire throughout the thick covering of Belleau Wood.

The natural terrain offered ideal camouflage. The woods were only accessible through the open fields of wheat that surrounded the area. Any troop attempting to breach the woods would be in plain sight, and at the mercy of German artillery fire.

Having endured four years of brutal trench warfare, the French lacked manpower and suffered from low morale. Conversely, the German army had recently been bolstered by troops and supplies arriving from the Eastern Front.

Calling Upon American Forces

The depleted French army called upon the Americans for reinforcement. In response, the German army became determined to defeat the allies before the arrival of American forces. As such, Germany made a push to take Paris. General Ludendorff hoped that this maneuver would draw the Allies into a climactic battle, that would decide the war in favor of Germany.

With the rapid arrival of American reinforcements, the German troops took up positions in Belleau Wood just sixty miles outside Paris. As the US 2nd Infantry Division arrived at Belleau Wood, the French army, battle weary and outnumbered, were retreating. They advised the Americans to do the same, to which Major Lloyd Williams replied, “Retreat, hell! We just got here!” As the first major battle of the war that Americans had witnessed, it was this attitude of bravado that lead them to victory.

Read the entire article on the Owlcationweb site.

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