3725 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
finish, ready to sacrifice as long as is
necessary until final victory for the most
noble of causes, that of the liberty of
nations, the weak as well as the mighty.
Thus the deaths of these humble soldiers
appear to us with extraordinary grandeur.
"We will, therefore, ask that the mortal
remains of these young men be left here,
left with us forever. We inscribe on the
tombs, 'Here lie the first soldiers of the
Republic of the United States to fall on
the soil of France for liberty and justice'
The passerby will stop and uncover his
head. Travelers and men of heart will
go out of their way to come here to pay
their respective tributes.
"Private Enright, Private Gresham,
Private Hay! In the name of France I
thank you. God receive your souls. Farewell."
The American troops naturally were
extremely eager to retaliate. They wished
to carry out raids themselves against
the Germans and to repay the injury
with interest, but it did not accord with
the plans of the French Staff to arouse
any decided activity in that sector, so the
American desire for revenge temporarily
could not be gratified.
For a long time the Americans did not
attempt any independent raids. The first
one planned was to have taken place
on the morning of the 4th of March and
was to have been carried out by ISO men
from the First Division, which was then
in line on the south side of the St. Mihiel
salient. Great preparations were made
for the enterprise, but unfortunately the
detachment of engineers, which had been
instructed to blow up the German wires
with bengalore torpedoes, lost their way,
and the whole plan had to be given up.
Mistakes of this sort were inevitable in
the training period, and in the words of
a writer on the subject, "No one can
appreciate the real accomplishment of
the army, who does not realize how unskilled it was to begin with, and how
dangerous it was to be unskilled in the
presence of a keen and practiced enemy."
Another discouraging experience for the
Americans occurred on April 20, 1918,
when the Germans made a raid in force
on the village of Seicheprey on the south
side of the St. Mihiel salient. About
4 o'clock in the morning, the German
artillery became active; then their firing
died away. About quarter past five,
however, it was suddenly renewed. Shells
fell in great numbers on the village of
Seicheprey and on parts of the American
trenches in front. Soon after, the Germans advanced through heavy fog and
succeeded in capturing the trenches in
front of Seicheprey and the village itself.
Four or five hundred Americans were
killed, wounded, or taken. The German
losses were slighter, but the Americans
subsequently buried 41 dead enemies.
The Germans held the captured trenches
until near the close of the day, and then,
just before the Americans were about to
launch a counter-attack, they returned
to their own lines. In an effort to dampen
American morale, the Germans made
much of their exploit, "sending out reports
by their wireless and printing in their
paper, the Gazette des Ardennes, a list
of the prisoners with a comment that,
as General Pershing was very new at the
game, he might like to know what became
of his men."
Following our declaration of war on
Germany, Austria-Hungary severed diplomatic relations with the United States,
but formal hostilities did not immediately
follow. Many Americans urged that we
should also declare war against Austria Hungary, but the President and a majority
of Congress thought otherwise. One of
the reasons put forward for not doing
so was that there were many hundreds
of thousands of Austro-Hungarian subjects
in the United States and that a declaration
of war against their country would tend
to make them more dangerous.
But the great victory of the Austrians
and Germans over the Italians in the fall
of 1917 created a new situation. To
help redeem the situation the United
States hastened to send ships, money, and
supplies to the hard-pressed Italians,
and the Government considered sending
soldiers who would, of course, fight