The Thirty-fifth Division was also under the command of an incompetent major general and an incompetent artillery brigadier. The result was a debacle in five days, with the division line pushed backward and held only by the 110th Engineer Regiment of twelve hundred men, bolstered by what retreating men could be shoved into the line, some of them at gunpoint.
Although three divisions got into trouble at the outset of the Meuse-Argonne, the Thirty-fifth’s failure was the worst. After the collapse, the Red Cross representative of the division, Henry J. Allen, became governor of Kansas and instigated investigations by both houses of Congress. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker testified in an effort to limit the political damage. But the hullabaloo gradually died down, and the whole sad episode passed into the darker corridors of history.
By focusing on a single event in history, Collapse at Meuse-Argonne offers a unique glimpse into one of the most critical battles of World War I. Historians, as well as the general reader, will find this new perspective on what really happened to the Thirty-fifth Division fascinating.