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The St. Mihiel Offensive (Paperback)

12 to 16 September 1918

Military > Battlefield Guidebooks WWI > By Year > 1918

By Maarten Otte
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Battleground: WWI
Pages: 298
ISBN: 9781526734952
Published: 6th December 2019


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The St Mihiel Offensive, which took place between the 12th and 16th September 1918, was the first full scale attack that was under the direct command of the Americans, in the person of General J Pershing. He combined his command of the First (at the time the only) American Army with that of Commander in Chief of the AEF, a tremendous burden.

The St Mihiel Salient had its origins in the early fighting of the war and had been stabilised by the end of 1914, although there was fierce fighting there in the first half of 1915 as both sides jostled for position; the high ground of Les Eparges became notorious for the intensity of the mine warfare that took place below it, extensive remains of which can be seen today.

The American attack (with the assistance of a French Corps) was an outstanding success and the Germans were forced into a rapid withdrawal to the Michel Line, a strongly defended position that formed the Hindenburg Line in this area. On the other hand, the success was in part assisted by the fact that the Germans intended to withdraw from the exposed position of the Salient back to this line, the only question being the timing of such a move. Historians argue about whether the move had actually begun or not; but the reality is that senior German officers knew that it was imminent and certainly some heavier artillery had already been pulled back.

Pershing’s original hope had been to continue the offensive to seize Metz, crucial rail links and economically vital areas to the German war effort. In fact any such attempt would have taken weeks of preparation, as even a casual examination of the Michel Line defences still existing today would show.

It is probable that relatively easy success here led to overconfidence amongst some that the next offensive, the Meuse-Argonne – to the north and scheduled to begin on the 26th, would have a similar outcome. If so they were in for a rude awakening.

This book is profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs and numerous maps, the narrative supplemented by a number of first hand accounts; the whole is supported by several walking and car tours.

This is the latest in a series of Battleground books by Maarten Otte on the American Expeditionary Forces, with several more in preparation.

The quantity of photographs, maps and visual aids in this book is fantastic, and little wonder perhaps why it is somewhat bigger in size than other books in this series. The American Memorials of World War One tend to be less visited. There is a car tour option which cover the US Monuments and Memorials, alongside wider points of interest.

Jon Sandison

Featured in

The Western Front Association Bulletin 119

This book is profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs and numerous maps, the narrative supplemented by a number of first hand accounts; the whole is supported by several walking and car tours.

This book like the others in the series is a precise and fantastic piece of education, full of detailed information, maps and diagrams. This particular book focuses on the American Expeditionary force during the Great War, at The St Mihiel Offensive. But not only do we get the details of the offensive, you also get the order of battle and the relevant facts and figures. The reader also gets the major players of the events and little biographies, but added to this are a huge amount of high quality photographs depicting modern day so that you can follow the information and routes as the battle goes on. But the other major plus to these books is not only the fine detailed writing, it’s the compact size of the book, it really is the right size and weight to take on a tour/afternoon walk over the events.

This is a thoroughly good read and a magnificent reference book to the events told, the reference indexes and terms at the back of the book are just fantastic. This book is a must for the recommendation.

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UK Historian

Like every book in the series, this one also makes use of excellent maps, photographs and precise descriptions of the war actions. US forces proved that they could alone sustain a well-planned and accomplished offensive. Until then they had fought only under British or French command. Otte describes the battle to eliminate the Salient of St. Mihiel in a clear and precise way and provides the reader with an excellent guide to trace the locations of one of the last great battles of the Great War.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

This is not a history book. This is a tour guide book. It is an exceptional example of learning history by first- hand experience. Don't keep your copy clean. This is not for library use. This book was designed to get dirty, dog-eared and well used while accompanying you out into the fields where the St. Mihiel Offensive was actually fought. We are pleased to award it with the highest possible recommendation from ISD. Now go buy this book and experience history!

Indy Squadron Dispatch, June 2020

This latest addition to the Battleground Series is a bit of a hybrid. It is a successful combination of the detailed stand notes that we have come to expect from the best battleground volumes, with the excellent Guidebook information we attribute to a Holt’s Guidebook. Packed with maps, labelled panoramic pictures, photographs and a detailed narrative, this is an impressive new release from Pen & Sword. Certainly, worth the investment if you are heading down to the US battlefields later in the year.

Despatches, COVID-19 Quarantine Special - review by Mike Peters

Being able to slip the book into a pocket makes it an excellent companion for anyone keen to investigate the American offensive under their own steam.

The Armourer, May 2020

The US Army Expeditionary Force may have arrived late but performed with distinction and helped win the final victories. The Great War histories have rarely done anything like the justice deserved by US soldiers. – Very Highly Recommended.

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I find this to be a compelling method of presenting the historical material in a new dramatic way.


Another excellent and detailed mix of history and battlefield guide which is a great addition to the series.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

This is a really superb & detailed guide to the St Mihiel sector with great text, good maps & lots of illustrations. A real classic guidebook to this important AEF sector.

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Paul Reed via Twitter

An essential account of the American Expeditionary Force's encounter at St Mihiel in 1914-15.

Books Monthly

As featured on Argunners


This an excellent guide to the St Mihiel Salient by an author who clearly knows his stuff. It is supported by excellent maps and images and chronologically follows the reduction of the salient by the AEF in 1918. This book will walk you round the battlefield and take you to evidence of the conflict and will give a good view of the ground and geography.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Maarten Otte

Maarten Otte is a long time resident in France, now living in Montfaucon, which is the location of the striking American Expeditionary Forces national memorial to the men who fought on the Western Front. Growing up in the Netherlands with a fascination with both the the Great War and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, some twelve years ago he settled in the Argonne, where he has developed his interest in both wars, particularly the role of the United States. 
He has already written three books in the Battleground Europe series on the American Expeditionary Forces in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and St Mihiel; there are others in preparation, along with a book on the winners of the Medal of Honour in France during the war. Maarten has also produced a book in the series on the Battle of Sedan, 1870.
He now splits his time between writing on the wars, conducting guided tours of the AEF's battlefields and assisting his wife in running their B&B, which has recently moved from Nantillois to nearby Montfaucon en Argonne. He has built up a most impressive private museum, largely dedicated to the AEF; a number of the artefacts in it were found on the local battlefields.

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