Monday, October 5, 2009

91 Years Ago Tonight

91 Years Ago Tonight

A friend on a re-enactors board informed us Saturday we were entering the anniversary of the Lost Battalion's engagement during the Argonne Forest Offensive. I have heard mention of the Lost Battalion all my life but knew practically nothing about them. What I found in the next couple of hours was stunning. This is one of those battles you find yourself re-reading the details in an effort to come to grips with the events being discussed.

I have yet to find two sources that agree on the numbers of men involved and the causalities that resulted. The Army's offical report reads in part as follows:

A force of 550 men under command of Major Charles W. Whittlesey, was cut off from the remainder of the Seventy-Seventh Division and surrounded by a superior number of the enemy near Charlevaus, in the Forest d'Argone, from the morning of October 3, 1918 to the night of October 7, 1918.

Without food for more than one hundred hours, harassed continuously by machine gun, rifle, trench mortar and grenade fire, Major Whittlesey's command, with undaunted spirit and magnificent courage, successfully met and repulsed daily violent attacks by the enemy. They held the position which had been reached by supreme effort, under orders recived for an advance unit, communications was re-established with friendly troops.

When relief finally came, approximately 194 officers and men were able to walk out of the position. Officers and men killed numbered 107.

The rest of the offical report will be presented in the next post.

The photograph above shows the officers and men who got out and were able to pose for a snap shot rather than being taken to a hospital.

If this account leaves you with more questions than knowledge gained, I understand and agree. Those who have run the numbers know it leaves over 200 men unaccounted for. I will get into some of the details in my next post.


  1. I wish the picture you posted was closer up to see details better.
    This is a fine example of courage and honor in the military.

  2. This was the best of the two photographs of this group I found. The problem is they were taking a picture of a large group of men with cameras of the day.
    Today we are spoiled by light digital cameras. Most phones have a (much) better camera than the Brownie I started taking pictures with in the 1960s. There are photos of individuals and smaller groups I will be putting up next that are much better.