Battle of Cantigny, 1918

BATTLE OF CANTIGNY – WWI

28 May 1918

SUMMARY

In the first major American battle of WWI, an estimated 4,000 United States “doughboys,” supported by French tanks, artillery, and flamethrowers took the French village of Cantigny from an unknown number of German troops.  The Americans were able to defend against German counter-attacks for the next 2 days and held the position.

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BACKGROUND

As part of the effort to stop the German Spring Offensive to take Paris, the 28th Infantry, supported by 12 French Schneider tanks of AS 5 and heavy artillery and air support, seized the French village of Cantigny from an unknown number of units from the German 18th Army.  The village occupied high ground and served as an observation post for German artillery.  The battle lasted only 30 minutes, but the Germans made counter-attacks over the next 2 days. The Americans were able to hold the territory and pushed the Germans back from Cantigny.

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LOCATION

Cantigny, Somme, France

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AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

1st INFANTRY DIVISION

28th INFANTRY REGIMENT

Led by

Lieutenant General Robert Lee Bullard

Lt. Gen. Bullard – Official US Army Photo (1918)-Public Domain

Colonel Hansen Ely

Maj. Gen. (Col.) Ely – Official US Army Photo (1918)-Public Domain

Supported by

FRENCH ARTILLERIE SPÉCIALE 5

Air Cover

368 Heavy Artillery Pieces

Flamethrowers

French Schneider CA1 tank (1918) – Public Domain

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IMPERIAL GERMAN ARMY

EIGHTEENTH ARMY

Led by

General Oskar von Hutier

Gen. von Hutier – source: “The Literary Digest History of the World War”, volume V, p. 162.
by: Halsey, Francis Whiting, (1920) – Pubic Domain

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RESULT

A military victory for the Allies

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CONSEQUENCE

U.S. forces suffered 199 killed in action and 1,404 wounded.  It is estimated that the Germans suffered approximately 1,400 casualties with 250 taken prisoner of war.  Although small in comparison to other battles, Cantigny is historic as being the first American battle of WWI, the first American battle to utilize tanks, air support, and chemical warfare.  The battle proved to the Germans as well as the British and French that the United States forces were capable in the field.

     Actual newsreel footage of the Battle of Cantigny can be seen at

 

Footage of 2 former American Doughboys discussing Cantigny can be seen at

 

German POWs at Cantigny

 

Aftermath of the battle

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