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Editorial Note on First Combat
October 23-November 20, 1917
The First Division was assigned to replace French troops in the Einville sector on the Lorraine front east of Nancy, an area relatively quiet since the first months of the war. The first deployment of American troops to the front was accomplished in three successive shifts. The first battalion of each of the division’s four Infantry regiments entered the front lines on October 23; the second battalions replaced them on November 2; and the third battalions replaced the second on November 11. The division was relieved on November 20, having suffered thirty-six killed, thirty-six wounded, and eleven taken prisoner.
Marshall went to the Einville sector with the second battalions and was billeted in Sommervillers. From there he made daily inspection trips. He wrote in his memoirs that “the wide front over which the troops were distributed and the distance one was compelled to travel on foot to reach the front made my task of keeping in touch with the battalions a very onerous one. Starting at daylight I would generally be occupied until late in the afternoon tramping from one center of resistance to another.” (Marshall, Memoirs, p. 43.)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), p. 123.