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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

7 - The 2nd Division: The Rise of Set-Piece Battle


When Lejeune assumed command of the division in late July, he discovered that it was short about seven thousand officers and men. GHQ simply had not been able to send replacements as fast as the division was losing men in battle. Yet, by the start of August, dozens of officers and thousands of men were flooding the division, and veterans began the difficult job of teaching the replacements the important lessons learned at such great cost. That GHQ sent so many replacements so quickly was a sign of its satisfaction with the division's performance in battle. Divisions that did not meet GHQ expectations were chronically undermanned, while those deemed successful, such as the 1st and 2nd Divisions, were always restored to their full strength. No doubt this unwritten policy in turn contributed to the continued high performance of these two fine divisions and others like them. The other reason the division quickly received so many replacements was that GHQ wanted it to be ready to play a crucial role in the new American First Army's first great attack, the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient in September. But, before that fight, the division had much work to do to improve its battlefield performance.

Retraining and Reorganizing, August 1918

After a few days of rest and reconstitution behind the lines of the French Tenth Army in late July, the division moved to the Lorraine area, directly south of the St. Mihiel salient.

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