Over There - and Back
The methodical Foch at first intended to press the exhausted Germans back along the five-hundred-mile front that stretched from Flanders to the upper Rhine. The American role in this grinding operation would be to remove the German salient behind Saint-Mihiel, a thorn that had festered for nearly four years in the French flank, then to sweep farther east to Metz, on the Moselle River, and finally to inflame the long-silent front from Metz and Nancy to Switzerland. This assignment well suited Pershing's tactical preferences. Once the wooded heights of the salient were taken, his armies could spill down onto the broad Woevre Plain, an attractive theater for the employment of mobile tactics. Pershing looked forward eagerly to "action on a larger scale between the Meuse and the Moselle." 1.
But before the attack could be launched, Pershing's expectations were thwarted. In early August 1918 British troops near Amiens, crouching behind clanking tanks, had slashed widely and deeply into the enemy line. The mauled Germans had begun a systematic retreat. British Field Marshal Douglas Haig therefore proposed that the Western powers hit hard at the reeling German forces in the center of the front, rather than open up a new battle area to the east. Foch's strategy of slowly squeez-____________________