The Silver Scribe

Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

Matthew Drachman, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Year is 1918 and the Argonne offensive into Germany is in full swing; with fresh troops from the United States to lead the assault.  With General Macarthur and Colonel Patton leading their troops and tanks into the fight. This offensive would spawn one of the most famous last stands in history, the men which fought there would later be called, The Lost Battalion.

Hey folks, welcome to Fun Facts with Matthew.  Today’s story comes from the final years of World War One, it’s about a famous battalion that would make history.  Now without further interruption, let me tell you a tale of brave men, that would have rather died than to have surrendered.

The United States has just joined the war to end all wars.  Thousands of American troops arrived in France to fight the Germans.  One of these men are Charles White Whittlesey, who has recently been promoted to Major.

In September 1918, the Argonne offensive began, which was a operation to take a gap in the German line that could expose their flanks, which was located in the Argonne Forest.  Charles, now being command of nine different companies known as the Liberty Division, was ordered along with many others to take his men and move into the Argonne.

“I remember the Argonne, 1918. The sounds of that battle still haunt me to this day.  Machine gun fire from enemy lines. The sickening sound of a bayonet tearing through human flesh.  The soldier next to me firing his sidearm in desperation. All these sounds still echo in my mind, And as conducted by Death himself it all comes together as music.  A rhythm of death… A symphony of war.” – Diary of the Unknown Soldier

The Battle had begun, the battalion seeing the brunt of the fighting.  The Line consisted of the Liberty Division and several other American companies, along with the French which was advancing to their side, and was supposed to keep with the battalion.  However, during the advance the French had stopped, allowing the battalion to advance without any support. Creating a hole in the line.

The Germans saw this opportunity and swung in behind them, cutting off Charles and his men from friendly lines.  Encircling them, this was nearly a death sentence for the young Charles and his men.

With no intention to surrender, Charles and his men dug in.  Getting ready for what the Germans had for them. The same sentiment in mind, they would rather die than to surrender to the Germans.

For the next seven days from October 2nd to October 8th, the Battalion held their ground.  Taking heavy losses and running low on supply. At one point friendly artillery fired onto their position believing it to be the enemies.  With no way to communicate with friendly lines, Charles had to communicate with carrier pigeons. One message reading,

“WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALLEL 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE STOP IT.”

On October 7th, after several days of intense fighting, the Germans sent over a messenger who was a prisoner of war.  They blindfolded him and gave him a white flag to hold as he walked blindly to Charles and his men. He carried a message that read,

“The suffering of your wounded men can be heard over here in the German lines, and we are appealing to your humane sentiments to stop. A white flag shown by one of your men will tell us that you agree with these conditions. Please treat Private Lowell R. Hollingshead [the bearer] as an honorable man. He is quite a soldier. We envy you. – The German commanding officer.”

Charles after reading this, stood up and yelled back to the German lines, saying back to them, “YOU GO TO HELL!”

The Next day, after more heavy fighting with the Germans, the Liberty division, the battalion, The Lost Battalion, was relieved by their friendly lines.  After experiencing friendly fire, their supplies being dropped on the enemy, heavy hand to hand combat, and what could be described as literal hell on earth.  The Lost Battalion had been saved. Of the original 554 men that had been involved in the advance, only 194 walked out of the ravine that had became their friends grave.

“Not a day goes by but I hear from some of my old outfit, usually about some sorrow or misfortune. I cannot bear it much more” – Charles White Whittlesey.

Charles would later be given the Medal of Honor for his leadership, bravery, and valor during the Argonne offensive.  However, after being a pallbearer for the barrieral of the Unknown soldier. He would presumably commit suicide by jumping overboard of a ship.  Leaving in his stateroom the letter that the Germans had sent asking him to surrender. Giving it to his second in command.

Not all of these stories have happy endings, but their memory is what will inspire us all.

“That’s a really good story, oh wait are you actually writing this down now?”  Said Grayden Larson, “I think we can learn a lot from that story.”

I think I will leave this story on a good note.  All history has good and bad to it. In this case it had both; there is always glory to war, but there is always horror to it as well.  Join me next week on Fun Facts with Matthew.

 

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    Ben McAdams and Jenny Wilson easily win nomination of the Democratic Party

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Arts & Entertainment

    Get to Know Michelle Cooper: SBO Artist 2018-2019

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    Summer is coming! Here’s What Not to Do

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Arts & Entertainment

    Post Malone Concert in SLC

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    JATC Apprenticeship Fair

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    This is what is coming up for Seniors

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    The Struggles of 4th Quarter

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    Riverton High School Students Windshield Wiper Blades Are Being Stolen

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    Morp: Blast to the Past

  • Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion

    Features

    History of the Pulitzer Prize

The student news site of Riverton High School in Riverton, Utah
Fun Facts with Matthew: The Lost Battalion