THE ST. MIHIEL OFFENSIVE.
When the 90th Division relieved the 1st Division in the Saizerais sector on the night of
August 21, 1918, the 360th Infantry took the place of the hardy veterans of the 26th Regiment in
the littered trenches of the Puvenelle subsector and, for the first time, took its turn under the
observation and fire of the enemy.
The first battalion marched into the line of resistance near Jeazainville and relieved one
battalion of the 26th; the second battalion went to the outpost line, and the third battalion came
up to a position in reserve, in the Camp des Antonistes. Morning of August 22 found the advance
elements of this organization of Texans peering upon the villages of Vittonville and Norroy and
into the notorious Bois le Pretre, that burying ground for thousands of French poilus whose
repeated attempts to storm its impregnable recesses had been beaten back the year previous.
These names were destined to forever burn brightly in the memory of officers and men in the
Regiment, for, by the reduction of the strongholds constructed by the Germans there during the
years of passive warfare the regiment accomplished one of the most difficult missions of the
entire St. Mihiel offensive, and welt the unstinted praise of the brigade, division and army
Until September 11 the Regiment remained in position, alert to the possibility of attack
and constantly endeavoring to gain and maintain contact with the enemy through day and night
patrols. It was on one of these patrols that Captain Charles E. DeLario and Second Lieutenant A.
F. Johnson of Company A, with a number of enlisted men, were fired on as they lay in front of a
German outpost. Lieutenant Johnson was wounded, but with superb courage under the ever
increasing fire of the Germans, Captain DeLario dragged him hack to the American lines, t26
meanwhile conducting the patrol homeward with no other casualties.
It had already become apparent that the plans of the First American Army centered on the
eradication of the St. Mihiel salient which, since 1914, had penetrated menacingly into French
territory, dangerously close to important avenues of communication if the Allies were to advance
at other points along the line. And it was no less apparent that the general front occupied by the
90th Division would be the scene of important engagements during this action, and that the
particular sector before the 360th Infantry was pregnant with danger. For in the Bois le Pretre
there was, at this time, more barbed wire entanglements than existed, perhaps, on any other
sector of the western front, and among the stone quarries to the right front the ramifications of
the underground defenses had been limited only when they were pronounced impervious to
assault by high German commanders. Until the actual issuance of the attack order this was the
complex problem which seemingly confronted the regiment.
However, when the field order directing the regiments participation in the general
advance to be made at 5 oclock on the morning of September 12 was received the Bois le Pretre
was not designated as an objective. It was considered too hard a nut to crack, by the French,
Marshal Petain, in fact, having declared against its inclusion in the objectives of the First Army,
saying that the wood was regarded as invulnerable. So the first days goal was a line to the south
of Camp de la Clef and Camp de Norroy. To prepare the way for the regiments assault was a
man-sized task in itself, for paths had to be cut through rows upon rows of wire in No-Mans
land and a variety of other obstacles placed there by the Germans had to be removed before the
start could be made. And this work could not be started until just before the advance, for an