Lost Battalion (World War I) - 77th Division - The Argonne Forest Before The Attack

The Argonne Forest Before The Attack

The Argonne Forest was taken by the Germans at the early stages of the war. They had set up defensive positions all over the forest, using a string of networked trenches. These defenses started with a roughly 500 meter deep front line which “served as not much more than an advanced warning system.” Behind the first line, which consisted of trenches, shell holes and listening posts, the allies would have to push through the dense forest to the main battle lines. The next battle line, which was about 2 kilometers in depth, had turned back all Allied attacks over the last four years. This battle line, which consisted of wired trenches that were firmly held, was referred by the Germans as “Hagan Stellung.” The Next German battle line, referred to as the “Hagan Stellung-Nord,” was “basically a machine-gun-covered, pre-sighted artillery target.” This was a very well entrenched location utilizing both natural and man-made barriers. Together these two battle lines formed what was known as “Etzel Stellungen.” However, the Hagan Stellung-Nord was where one of the problems was. If the Hagan Stellung-Nord was taken by the enemy, then they would be annihilated by German artillery. The Germans over the years had every inch of that area pre-sighted in case of a hostile takeover. So, upon taking the position the occupier could not stay for long, or they would risk being blown apart. The Germans also spread barbed wire for hundreds of miles. At some point it would be higher than a man’s head and several yards deep. The Germans also placed it at the bottom of rivers and small streams to prevent any troop movement across these areas.

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