The author is peculiarly well qualified to perform the task set him in writing this book. Both his training and his experience have fitted him to an exceptional degree.
The primary requisite for such a work as this is the ability to accumulate the pertinent facts, and the possession of a background of knowledge and experience such that the facts accumulated can be properly grouped together and analyzed to produce the truth. Such qualifications produce a good commanding officer in battle and good reporter in peace. General Reilly's record shows him to have been both.
He has seen war on three continents---North America, Asia, and Europe.
In 1913, while in Mexico as a newspaper correspondent, he saw various combats between the different factions. In the attack on Monterey he accompanied the attacking Carranzista infantry.
As a young cavalry lieutenant on leave from the Philippines, he saw something of the closing scenes of the Russo-Japanese War. As a newspaper correspondent in China in 1925, while on a campaign with a Chinese force, he was captured by the opposing cavalry in the closing phase of a two days' battle.
He arrived in France in 1914, just after the First Battle of the Marne. Between then and our entry into the war in 1917, he first drove an American ambulance on the British and French fronts and later as a war correspondent made numerous visits to various parts of the western front, and, during the summer of 1915, to the most vital parts of the German-Russian front.
He participated in all the combats of our famous Forty-second, or Rainbow Infantry Division, first in command of a light artillery regiment and then of an infantry brigade. Besides the distinction of receiving this promotion in battle was the unusual fact of an artilleryman being given an infantry command.
In 1920, he accompanied the Polish army in two campaigns against the Bolsheviki: the first in the spring, in which the Poles took the offensive, finally capturing Kief; the second in the late summer, when the Poles, driven far back, finally stood on the Vistula, stopped the Bolsheviki, and then attacked, capturing such large numbers as practically to wipe the Bolsheviki army out of existence.
General Reilly began his newspaper career in 1912 writing articles on American foreign affairs for the Chicago Tribune. He continued this work until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. From then until we declared war he was a war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and part of the time for the New York Herald as well. Since his return to this country with the Rainbow Division, from the Rhine in the summer of 1919, he has been at various times a special correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Europe and for the Hearst papers in Eastern Asia, and editor of the Army and Navy journal. Besides this, he has written for various magazines on foreign affairs and military subjects.
General Reilly's qualifications are not limited to participation as an actor in, or close spectator of, interesting events. Constant study of our international and military affairs has given him a background from which to judge what he has seen.
He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Seven years after graduation he was sent back to that institution as an instructor. in history. During the ten years prior to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, he not only saw but studied the organization, tactics, and connections with their civil governments of the French, German, British, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Peruvian, Bolivian, Chilean, Argentine and Mexican armies.
Since his return from the Rhine in the summer of 1919, he has on each of three trips to Europe talked with numerous Europeans who participated in the war on one side or the other besides bringing home with him more than a thousand books written since the war in various languages. He spent the greater part of 1927 in Europe, gathering additional material for this book.
The figures he uses are from American official sources; "Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire" (official) ; "Etude de Statistique Chirurgical, Guerre de 1914-18" (official) ; Colonel Pagnet, "La Défaite Militaire de l'Allemagne en 1918"; General Buat, "L'Armée Allemande pendant la Guerre de 1914-18"; "L'Effort Militaire des Alliés sur le front de France", from "Collection de Mémoires, Etudes et Documents pour servir à l'Histoire de la Guerre Mondiale," and numerous other highly reliable sources.
The pertinent quotations which he has been able to obtain from distinguished leaders for this volume are a guaranty of his good standing as an active soldier, as well as a military critic, among men whose records guarantee that they speak with authority.
Marshal Foch, General Pershing, General Bliss, our representative on the Versailles Superior War Council; and General Summerall, the present chief of staff of the army, have all given him direct expressions of opinion on various questions brought up in the different chapters of this book.
J. G. HARBORD.
Major-General U. S. Army, Retired.
New York, July 10, 1928.
What part did we take in the Great War?
Did we only lend money to our Allies, ---or did we really fight?
It is time we knew the truth, not only for purposes of history, but above all because the answer to this question vitally affects our relations with the other great Powers today, and particularly with Great Britain and her self-governing colonies, such as Canada, our nearest neighbor, and Australia, which is faced with the same problems in the Pacific as the United States.
The stay-at-home American, even though he but glances at his daily paper, must be surprised at the chorus of abuse and even of rage directed toward us each time not only the war debts but any other question in which we happen to differ with our associates in the Great War comes up.
The American who has traveled outside this country or, better yet, lived among Europeans, and particularly Britishers and British Colonials, be it in Europe, Asia, or the Americas, knows the origin of this feeling against us.
He knows that the average foreigner believes that we did little fighting, and that of no particular consequence, in the war; our principal part being, to put it frankly, that of a usurer who loaned his friends money when they were in great trouble and simply had to have it, and now brazenly insists on repayment with no shame because of his failure to fight.
We even have some Americans who, adopting the same point of view, invariably take the side of the foreigner in any discussion on this subject. Thus, what fighting we really did in the Great War, and how far it affected its issue, is largely the foundation of our foreign relations today.
In addition to this, every veteran who knows that he and the other soldiers of his division risked their lives on the battle-field, has a natural curiosity to know just what effect the fights they were in had on the course of the war as a whole. Were they merely local engagements of no particular importance, or were they integral parts of the most dramatic event the world can produce---a decisive battle, an event which in a few days of great bloodshed and tremendous emotion determines the course, perhaps for centuries, not only of nations containing millions of people, but in a universal conflict such as the Great War, of the whole world?
Despite considerable search, I know of no book in the English language which frankly and fully discusses the questions of what the fighting we did in the war really amounted to.
Books on the war published in Britain, with few exceptions, largely ignore our part in the conflict. The few exceptions have scattered through them a number of very interesting facts concerning what we did, but no summation of our part.
In this country, several books have been produced concerning our part. However, they have more to do with the work done by the nation to overcome its unpreparedness at the time we declared war than with the actual effect on the military situation of such combat as our troops engaged in.
In French, there are two books, both written by officers, giving not only a fair but even a generous summary of our military effort. Here and there throughout the tremendous number of French books on the war written since the Armistice there are frank statements that without America's manpower the tremendous blow suffered by the Allies when Russia dropped out of the war could never have been overcome. However, there has not yet been published a frank discussion as to the relative parts played by the different nations in bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
Nothing is known of any book in Italian which goes into our part in the war.
The Germans, on the whole, frankly state that their plans were seriously upset by our entry into the war, just as they had disposed of Russia, one of their principal antagonists. However, as far as is known, the tremendous literature on the war which, as in France, has appeared since the Armistice contains no definite summary of what effect was caused by the arrival on European battle-fields of the troops which we put in combat.
The purpose of this book is to set forth the best obtainable facts, without regard to national or international likes and dislikes, in answer to the question: did this nation really play an important part in beating Germany on the battle-fields of France, or did it merely send a few troops to show the flag to justify a usurious attitude later on?
The point of view, held by so many foreigners, is rapidly becoming crystallized into acceptance as an historical fact. It is the basis of the dislike of this country which exists among so many people today.
Prologue. The American Legion in Paris
Chapter I. What Pershing Faced in Europe
Chapter II. Why Germany Defied Us
Chapter III. Why the Allies Wanted Our Men
Chapter IV. Would American Troops Really Fight?
Chapter V. Could American Generals be Trusted with Modern Armies?
Chapter VI. The Race Between Hindenburg and America
Chapter VII. Foch and Pershing Finally Get Their Way
Chapter VIII. The Decisive Day of the War
Chapter IX. The Battle that Turned the Tide
Chapter X. America's Part