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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Sep 2010 21:50    Onderwerp: FORMATIVE PERIOD OF US MILITARY PLANNING Reageer met quote


Michael J. McCarthy
Marshall University Department of History

Presented at the Mid-West Conference on History, The University
of Kansas, Lawrence KS, 17-19 September 1992.


At 8:32 pm on 2 April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson stood
before the Joint Session of Congress. American protests had
failed to dissuade Germany's submarine campaign, and Wilson
believed that only one avenue remained -- war. The President's
thirty-six minute oration documented the causes which he believed
justified belligerency, but in spite of the President's claim
that "what this will involve is clear," few plans existed beyond
the initial decision to adopt conscription as the method to raise
the army. Basic issues concerning the nature of American
participation, remained to be decided in the weeks and months
ahead. [1]

The task of molding the diminutive American army into a
formidable fighting force and of developing the strategic plans
for US participation fell upon the shoulders of the War
Department General Staff. In April 1917 this immature body of
military advisors consisted of fifty-one officers, only nineteen
of whom were on duty in Washington. None of these men had
commanded in action or had even seen a modern division of
American soldiers. Of these nineteen, eight were occupied with
routine business, leaving only eleven -- comprising the War
College Division -- free to concentrate on the herculean task of
creating from thin air a viable war plan against Germany. [2]

An examination of the role of the War College Division in
the formation of military strategy and of the relationship
between the President and his military advisors reveals two major
threads in American preparation for the conflict. First, the
United States found itself unmindful of and ill-prepared for the
degree of involvement which its participation would require. The
claim of Wilson's most recent biographer, August Hecksher -- that
"neither Wilson nor [Secretary of War Netwon D.] Baker had
seriously doubted that sooner or later, if the war continued, a
major force would be needed" -- seems unsubstantiated since
neither the military planners nor the political leaders had
adequately addressed the possibility of US participation in the
war that had been raging in Europe for almost three years.
Fundamental strategic questions -- such as whether to send an
army to Europe, and if so when and where to deploy it to support
national goals -- remained unanswered until after the Congress
granted Wilson's request for a declaration of war on Germany. [3]

The second major recognizable theme emerging from this study
is the distinction between the approach of the military planners
and that of the political leaders. Throughout the period
strategic preparation, the military leaders held a singular goal
foremost -- victory over Imperial Germany. Many political
leaders, especially Wilson himself, had other concerns which
often put them at odds with the military recommendations at those
rare times when they even knew of them. Historians Arthur S.
Link and John Whiteclay Chambers, II, have argued that "Wilson's
control and execution of military-diplomatic policy was personal
and direct," and that he "insisted upon maintaining daily
oversight of all military and naval operations, even down to
particular strategies." They contend that the President enjoyed
a close working relationship with his military advisers and that
"in all matters of military-diplomatic policies and strategies,
he required that there be a direct flow of information coming to
the President." They further claim that "through daily meetings
with Secretary Baker, and members of the General Staff as
necessary, the President maintained personal control of the
activities of the military establishment, especially as they
related to his larger goals." [4]

Wilson indeed fully exercised his constitutional powers as
Commander-in-Chief and maintained strict control of final
military policy decisions, especially those relating to naval
policy (such as the decision to adopt the convoy system-.
The picture of close cooperation painted by Link and Chambers,
however, is inaccurate during the formative period of American
military planning for the war, and the occasional harmony which
sometimes existed between the military and political objectives
of American participation can be attributed more to coincidence
than to cohesive planning. An examination of the policy-making
process illustrates that a gulf existed between the approach of
the military planners in the General Staff and that of the
President himself, especially as such planning related to the
decision to send an immediate expeditionary force to France and
the decision to exercise American military power on the Western


The decision for war itself answered only the first half of
a two-part question. The nation now had to decide how to fight.
The thought of committing an army to the Continent was revolting
to some American politicians. Upon hearing testimony on 6 April
that the military might need appropriations for an army in
France, Thomas S. Martin of Virginia, Chair of the Senate Finance
Committee, thundered, "Good Lord! You're not going to send
soldiers over there, are you?" [5]

Legislators were not alone in their reluctance to field an
expeditionary force. Recalling after the war the rationale for
the massive American loans to the Allies, Treasury Secretary
William G. McAdoo explained that at the time he believed that
"the dollars that we sent through these loans to Europe were, in
effect, substitutes for American soldiers. . . ." Even Wilson
himself did not yet seem committed to fielding an expeditionary
force. His declaration of war speech had made no mention of the
possibility, largely because he assumed that the mere threat of
American intervention would convince Germany to sue for peace.
The request for an immediate and direct American role in the war,
therefore, would have to come from the Allies. [6]

Practical considerations hampered any plans to field an
American Expeditionary Force. The most optimistic of estimates
suggested that a year would pass before any substantial American
army could reach the Continent. On top of the delay associated
with raising, training and fielding a force, many Allied
commanders had voiced disparaging opinions of the quality of
American soldiers. To solve both issues of the quality and the
speed of American military involvement, the Allies sought
amalgamation. American soldiers could enlist into the US Army
and then, either individually or in small units, be integrated
into existing Entente lines and chains of command. These
soldiers could receive the experienced training of the British or
French in Europe and could therefore play a role in the fighting
more quickly than if they were trained at home. [7]

From the Allied perspective, amalgamation seemed an almost
perfect solution; from the American perspective, both militarily
and politically, it was out of the question. Military commanders
were unlikely to give up the very armies which they commanded,
and the public would hardly swallow a plan which seemed to use
their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands as mere fodder for the
English and French war machines. A alternative would be to
encourage the United States to send a small expeditionary force
immediately to Europe. By doing so the Allies could more quickly
get the Americans involved in the war and perhaps even wear down
some of the opposition to amalgamation. It was this proposal
which the Allies eventually pressed. [8]

With the professed reason of discussing the nature of
military cooperation between the US and the Entente Powers, two
missions arrived in the US in late April -- a British delegation,
led by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Arthur J. Balfour
and Lieutenant General Tom Bridges, and a French contingent, led
by former Premier Ren Viviani and Marshal Joseph Joffre.
General Bridges lost no time in stepping on toes at the US War
Department. Within a week of his arrival in Washington he wrote
to the American Chief of Staff, General Hugh L. Scott, and
requested that a regular division be sent immediately across the
Atlantic. He attempted to soften this proposal by suggesting
that these soldiers could eventually be "drafted back into the US
Army and would be a good leavening of seasoned men," but his
suggestion met with a cool reception from the Chief of Staff. [9]

The French seemed at first no more successful than the
British in their discussions with the American military planners.
On 27 April Joffre spoke to the students at the Army War College.
Following the speech he retired to the college president's office
to meet with Baker, Scott and Assistant Chief of Staff, General
Tasker H. Bliss. The Frenchman repeated his appeal for "men,
men, men" and requested that an American division be sent to
Europe at once. His suggestion would not receive the endorsement
of America's military planners. [10]

The General Staff opposed such a course of action with a
strong and unified voice. Bliss saw the immediate dispatch of an
untrained force as merely the beginning of a mass butchering of
green American recruits. Arguing that replacements would have to
follow the casualties, he warned that "we will have to feed in
raw troops to take the place of raw troops." Bliss also
correctly surmised the unstated British hope that a few American
casualties might stimulate the US fighting spirit. He cautioned
against this tactic, however, and further asked: "They may think
that this will still further our fighting blood. But for what
purpose and to what effect? Will they want to so stir us that we
will insist on rushing great armies of ill-trained men into the
field?" [11]

Brigadier General Joseph E. Kuhn, then Chief of the War
College Division, and his military planners equally opposed such
a plan. In its memorandum to Scott on 29 March the War College
Division argued that a small force could exert no influence on
the front and could only bring harm to an American effort to
create an independent army. Trained soldiers and officers were
scarce in America, and forming most of them into a single
division would undermine future American mobilization. Even when
Baker ordered them to draft plans for a possible expeditionary
force on 10 May, the military planners restated their misgivings
about this idea. [12]

The military planners, then, had made their position clear:
the immediate dispatch of an expeditionary force to Europe would
not, in their opinion, be in the best interest of the American
war effort. Just such an expeditionary force, however, departed
in June 1917 under the command of General John J. Pershing. The
British and French missions seem to have persuaded Wilson, and
during the President's four o'clock private meeting with the
French Field Marshal on 2 May he had "allowed General Joffre to
take it for granted that such a force would be sent just as soon
as we could send it." In his sixty-five minute audience with
Wilson the French commander successfully elicited what the
American military planners had opposed so passionately ever since
war had appeared likely. [13]

The President appears to have reached his decision
independently of the advice being issued from the nation's
military planners. During his actual conversation with Joffre,
the President referred to none of the concerns which the War
College Division had enunciated about an immediate expeditionary
force. Also, there is no record that Baker had briefed the
President on the General Staff's opinion of this recommendation.

Wilson most likely acted on his own with a diplomatic goal
in mind when he promised Joffre an immediate expeditionary force:
the desire to play a part in the peace settlement. Only if
America influenced the outcome of the war, and only if the US had
an army on the battlefield under its own flag to demonstrate this
influence, could Wilson mold the shape of the peace. While such
harmony between policy and objectives is admirable, the President
was to make this resolution with no direct consultation with his
military planners. In reality, of course, had the United States
delayed it would have found itself with almost no military
presence on the Continent at the close of the war, and judging
from Wilson's inability to convert the Allied leaders to his way
of thinking even in light of the degree of American
participation, it is likely that the President would have had
little or no diplomatic influence whatsoever at the postwar
negotiations. Therefore, Wilson's decision was sound in the
final analysis. It is still impossible to ignore, however, that
the President's choice was made with no direct consultation of
his military planners in the War Department General Staff. [15]


The decision to send an immediate expeditionary force to
France did not complete American strategic planning. While the
United States had committed itself to a military role, the exact
nature of the nation's involvement remained to be enshrouded in
fog as dense as that which surrounded General Pershing and his
staff as they departed New York harbor for Europe in late May
1917. Of immediate concern was the speed with which American
troops would follow the First Division across the Atlantic:
would the bulk of the American army remain in North America to
complete its training or would the United States begin shipping
more soldiers immediately? In addition, during the few months
after the initial expeditionary force was dispatched to France,
some prominent Americans -- even Wilson himself -- questioned the
wisdom of fighting on the Western Front. Almost three years of
relentless fighting there had left the terrain scarred with
trenches and graves, yet had yielded little gain for either side.
An alternative to this stalemate was sought.

Proposals from a variety of sources, including military men,
politicians, journalists and even the President himself, offered
suggestions for the focus of America's military efforts. All of
these proposals must have frustrated the personnel of the War
College Division, who seem to have settled on the Western Front
early in their war planning. Baker himself recalled years after
the war that "General Pershing, General Scott, General Bliss and
I had agreed that the war would have to be won on the western
front at the time General Pershing started overseas. At one of
our conferences before he left we discussed some of the sideshows
and decided that they were all useless. . . ." In spite of the
sound, strategic rationale for this decision, the General Staff
would be forced to explain its reasoning repeatedly throughout
the remainder of the year. [16]

In September 1917 Wilson submitted to Baker the plan of
Major Herbert H. Sargeant, a retired army officer and a member of
the General Staff who rejected the military planner's decision to
fight on the Western Front, for the "General Strategy of the
Present War Between the Allies and the Central Powers." Sargeant
decried the three-year-old stalemate on the Western Front and saw
little hope of either side gaining significant territory against
the enemy's layers of defenses. His plan, therefore, involved
the commitment of the smallest possible force to hold the line in
the West while concentrating the bulk of American power in the
East in an attack against either Turkey or Bulgaria. [17]

The suggestions of a Balkan or Near Eastern campaign met
with the vehement disapproval of military planners. On 28
September, Colonel P.D. Lochridge, acting Chief of the War
College Division, issued a memorandum to the Chief of Staff
relating several reasons why an Eastern campaign was not the
proper role for the American Expeditionary Force. First,
dividing the Allied effort would leave the Central Powers with
the advantage of interior lines of supply. Second, shipping a
force from New York to the Eastern Mediterranean would involve a
distance 1400 to 2000 miles greater than sending that same force
to the West Coast of France, and this entire increase would be in
a land-locked sea -- a gauntlet of possible submarine bases. The
delays associated with a Pacific crossing would be even greater,
making this course out of the question. [18]

A third disadvantage of a Balkan Campaign would be the
requirement of the attacking force to carry with it all supplies
and munitions. The American army was embarrassingly short of
cannons and ammunition and was already forced to rely on France
for its artillery needs in the West. Thus, an American force
landing in the Balkans would be unequipped for any fighting at

The main argument against a campaign in this area, however,
was political. Describing Macedonia as having been for centuries
the "cesspool of nations," Lochridge contended that this area
provided a microcosm of the nationality problem that had greatly
troubled the entire Balkan region. The Allied forces there
included contingents from all of the participant countries,
making harmonious cooperation impossible. It was better,
therefore, that the United States avoid becoming embroiled in
this political powder keg.

The War College Division refuted the idea of a Russian Front
in the same memorandum wherein it rejected the idea of an Eastern
campaign. The main hurdle for such a campaign was Russia's
inaccessibility. Ports in the North were too small or were
frozen over during much of the year. Ports on the East coast of
Asia were too distant from the front. Even if Russia had
possessed adequate port facilities, however, the added length of
the voyage prohibited an offensive via this route.

In the context of these discussions of alternative
strategies, and at Baker's suggestion, the War College Division
took the opportunity to explain and defend its choice of a
Western campaign. The military planners contended that a
"sideshow" strategy would unnecessarily divide the American
forces. In order for an alternative strategy to succeed, the US
would have to field a force large enough to hold the line in the
West and at the same time fully equip a force sufficient enough
to have an influence in another theater. The force on the second
front would require its own artillery, lines of communications,
rolling stock, bases, and sufficient personnel -- items that the
American force alone did not have. [19]

The War College Division also contended that the Allies
could not survive alone on the Western Front. No miracles had
occurred in the three months after the dispatch of Pershing's
First Division, so France still needed American assistance. Most
importantly, the War College argued that the West was the
decisive theater of the war. The sideshows in the East were just
that -- sideshows. The German objective, they argued, lay with
crushing France, and American involvement in the West would do
the most to thwart that goal. The military planners recognized
that a deadlock had existed for some time in the West, but they
claimed that American involvement to the expected degree
(eventually one or two million men- would tip the scales
decidedly in the favor of the Entente Powers. The war would be
won or lost in the West; if the United States desired to play a
decisive role in the outcome of the war, and thereby earn a seat
at the settlement, it would have to play that role side by side
with the French and British in the trenches of the Western Front.

By the end of September, the War College Division had
offered its best reasoning for a western campaign, but it
continued to receive suggestions for alternatives to this
strategy. Baker had sent Lochridge's memorandum to the President
on 11 October. In early November, however, Wilson again
presented to Baker the plan of Major Sargeant concerning "the
General Strategy of the Present War between the Allies and the
Central Powers" -- the very same plan which he had given to his
Secretary of War in September and the very same plan which the
War College Division had already rejected in its lengthy study
written for the President himself! Surely Baker must have been
puzzled when, upon his return to his office, he realized that
Wilson had resubmitted Sargeant's proposal. On 11 November Baker
forwarded a copy of the War College Division's memorandum of 28
September to Wilson. In his cover letter he once again
reiterated the arguments against a sideshow strategy for the AEF.
Hinting at Wilson's desire to have a seat at the settlement,
Baker concluded by reminding the President that America's army
had been "pledged for use on the Western Front in cooperation
with the British and French forces there." [21]

The President finally bowed to Baker and the General Staff,
but not before having once again illustrated the great difference
between his goals and those of the military planners. Ronald H.
Spector argues that news of the November Revolution in the
nascent Soviet Union and the Italian disaster at Caporetto, which
had cost the Allies 40,000 casualties and a quarter-million
prisoners of war, doused any ideas of alternative fronts.
Timothy K. Nenninger, however, suggests that one argument in
particular may have been decisive in the eyes of the President.
The Western Front policy would allow the United States to play a
major role in the war, and it therefore fit well with Wilson's
political goals of reshaping Europe. While this reasoning may
have convinced Wilson, the military planners themselves had
already decided on this course of action months earlier for
purely military reasons. [22]


With the decision to concentrate American forces on the
Western Front finalized, the responsibility for most strategic
planning shifted away from Washington and into the Headquarter of
General Pershing or the chambers of the Supreme War Council.
After Major General Peyton C. March assumed the position of Chief
of Staff in the spring of 1918, the War College Division's role
in strategic policy-making would be made official (at least in
title- and that branch of the General Staff would be renamed the
War Plans Division. Also during March's tenure, Wilson would
begin close coordination with his military planners, as described
by historians Link and Chambers. Such a cohesive approach to
planning, however, had not existed during the formative period of
America's policy-making for the war, and this examination of that
topic has demonstrated the disparity between the approach and
attitude of the military planners in the War College Division and
that of President Wilson. [23]

Wilson was not fully attuned to the War College Division's
recommendations concerning an immediate expeditionary force to
France. The military planners voiced their reservations
passionately, but Wilson was probably ignorant of these opinions
when, on 2 May, he promised Joffre that the US would raise and
send a division as soon as one could be organized. In
retrospect, following the War College Division's advice to hold
the bulk of American soldiers within the country until they had
completed their training would no doubt have left the US lacking
a land presence at the end of the war or, worse yet, might have
resulted in a victory for the Central Powers. Such hindsight
analysis does not erase the fact that Wilson had not thought to
consult the General Staff and that Secretary of War Baker proved
a poor messenger for the War College Division's opinions.

Wilson's approach to strategic planning came dangerously
close to folly when he questioned the American commitment to the
Western Front -- twice. Wilson seemed too easily swayed by the
strategic advice of amateurs or polemicists. Indeed, the
President appeared reluctant to accept even the most straight-
forward arguments which excluded the possibility of an attack
other than in the West. Secretary of War Baker had to present
the War College Division critique of these alternatives twice,
and even then it is less likely that the President was swayed by
the strategic considerations than it is that he was influenced by
the fall of the Provincial Government in Russia and by Baker's
contention that a campaign along any front but the West would
threaten Wilson's role at the peace settlement.

It is often easy to find mistakes in failure. It is more
difficult to criticize a process which ends successfully, as did
America's effort during the First World War. The Allied victory,
however, does not change the fact that American strategy was
formulated in a tardy, reckless and haphazard fashion, with
Wilson making policies and commitments with no consideration of
the counsel of his military planners in the War College Division
of the General Staff. This is not to say that the advice of
those planners was always sound, or to claim that it should
always have been adopted, or even to suggest that, at least on
the surface, American diplomatic goals and military policy failed
to mesh. In fact, in retrospect it appears that Wilson's
decisions were often better suited to America's war aims than was
the advice of the War College Division. Nonetheless it must be
recognized that these decisions were not the result of a long and
considered dialogue between the President and these military
planners. They were instead the outcome of unilateral decision-
making which, although successful in this instance, is a
dangerous approach to strategic planning.

1. "An Address to a Joint Session of Congress," 2 April 1917,
_The Papers of Woodrow Wilson_, gen. ed. Arthur S. Link, 63 vols.
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966 - -, 41:519-27
(hereafter, _PWW_-. See also Walter Millis, _Road to War:
America, 1914-1917_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935-, 436-43.
2. James Hewes, "The United States Army General Staff, 1900-
1917," _Military Affairs_ 38 (April 1974-: 68; "Report of the
Chief of Staff," in _War Department Annual Report, 1919_, 4
vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1920-, 1:248-49;
Frederic L. Paxson, "The American War Government, 1917-1918,"
_American Historical Review_ 26 (October 1920-: 54. See also
Edward M. Coffman, _The War to End All Wars: The American
Military Experience in World War I_ (Madison: University of
Wisconsin Press, 1986 [New York: Oxford, 1968]-, 21-4; Marvin A.
Kreidberg and Morton G. Henry, _History of Military Mobilization
in the United States Army, 1775-1945_ (Washington: Department of
the Army, 1955-, 215-16; James Hewes, _From Root to McNamara:
Army Organization and Administration, 1900-1963_ (Washington:
Center of Military History, 1975-.
3. August Hecksher, _Woodrow Wilson_ (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1991-, 446-47.
4. Arthur S. Link and John W. Chambers, II, "Woodrow Wilson as
Commander-in-Chief," in _The United States Military Under the
Constitution of the United States, 1789-1989_, ed. Richard H.
Kohn (New York: New York University Press, 1991-, 319-24.
5. Frederick Palmer, _Newton D. Baker: America at War_, 2 vols.
(New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1931-, 1:120.
6. William G. McAdoo, _Crowded Years_ (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1931-, 376-77; Kathleen Burk, "Great Britain in the
United States, 1917-1918: The Turning Point," _International
History Review_ 1 (2 April 1979-: 234.
7. For examinations of the projected time required to field an
American Expeditionary Force see Col. Joseph E. Kuhn to General
Hugh L. Scott, "Memorandum for the Chief of Staff," 29 March
1917, Record Group 165 (Records of Chief of Staff, War Plans, and
War College Division-, File 9433-6, National Archives,
Washington, DC (hereafter, RG 165, NA-; [British] General Staff,
"Note on the Military Forces of the United States," 5 February
1917, WO 106/467, Public Record Office (hereafter, PRO-, cited in
David Woodward, _Trial By Friendship: Anglo-American Cooperation
in World War I_ (University of Kentucky Press, forthcoming-,
Chapter 3. As for the Allied evaluation of the quality of
American soldiers, General Sir William Robertson, the Chief of
the British Imperial General Staff, issued a rather pointed
evaluation of the capacity of the American military when he wrote
to a fellow general, "I do not think that it will make much
difference whether America comes in or not. What we want to do
is to beat the German Armies, until we do that we shall not win
the war. America will not help us much in that respect."
Robertson to General Sir A.J. Murray, 13 February 1917, in _The
Military Correspondence of Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson,
Chief, Imperial General Staff, December 1915 - February 1918_,
ed. David R. Woodward, Publications of the Army Records Society 5
(London: The Bodley Head, for the Army Records Society, 1989-,
149. The French seemed to have a similar opinion, as pointed out
by Major James A. Logan, Jr., Chief of the US Military Mission in
Paris: "all of the French are somewhat afraid of the efficiency
of our military organization." Logan, Chief of Military Mission,
Paris, to Chief of Army War College, War College Division,
General Staff, 13 April 1917, RG 165/10050-2, NA.
8. For a discussion of the ongoing amalgamation controversy, see
Thomas Clement Lonergan, _It Might Have Been Lost!: A Chronicle
from Alien Sources of the Struggle to Preserve the National
Identity of the A.E.F._ (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1929-.
9. Wilson was at first reluctant to receive the British
delegation, fearing that "a great many will look upon the mission
as an attempt to in some degree take charge of us as an assistant
to Great Britain." Wilson to Baker, 11 April 1917, Box 4, Baker
Papers, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Washington, DC
(hereafter, LOC-. David M. Esposito argues that Wilson's
reluctance to receive the missions also stemmed from the fear
that the Allies would attempt to limit America's role in the war
and thereby to decrease the President's influence at the peace
settlement. See David M. Esposito, "Force Without Stint or
Limit: Woodrow Wilson and the Origins of the American
Expeditionary Force" (Ph.D. dissertation, Penn State University,
1988-, 165-66. Bridges to Scott, 30 April 1917, WO 106/467, PRO,
cited in Woodward, _Trial By Friendship_, Chapter 3; Kathleen
Burk, _Britain, America and the Sinews of War, 1914-1918_
(Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1985-, 123.
10. Edward M. Coffman, _The War to End All Wars_, 8-9.
11. Bliss to Baker, undated but probably March 1917, Box 1,
Document 60, Baker Papers, LOC; see also Lt. Col. W.H. Johnston
to Chief of Staff, Memorandum of dissent, 11 May 1917, RG
12. Memorandum from War College Division to Chief of Staff, 3
February 1917, Subj: Preparation for possible hostilities with
Germany, RG 165/9433-4, NA; Army War College Division to Chief of
Staff Scott, 29 March 1917, RG 165/9433-6; Kuhn to the Chief of
Staff, 10 May 1917, Subj: Plans for a possible expeditionary
force to France, RG 165/10050-8, NA.
13. Wilson to Baker, 3 May 1917, Box 4, Document 109, Baker
Papers, LOC.
14. "A Conversation with Josef-Jacques-Csaire Joffre," 2 May
1917, _PWW_, 42:186-91; Baker to Wilson, 8 May 1917, Box 4,
Document 123, Baker Papers, LOC.
15. A controversy exists concerning whether or not this desire
to help shape the peace motivated Wilson's decision for US
involvement in the war. Those historians who view the desire to
mediate as a prime reason for his decision for war include
Patrick Devlin, who argues that by April 1917, "It would be idle
for Wilson to go to the Peace Conference without a seat in the
Cabinet of Nations. The price of that seat was now war. Wilson
himself had no doubt of that." See Devlin, _Too Proud to Fight:
Woodrow Wilson's Neutrality_ (London: 1974-, 678-81; and David
Trask, "Woodrow Wilson and World War I," in _American Diplomacy
in the Twentieth Century_, ed. Warren F. Kimball (St. Louis, MO:
Forum Press, 1980-, 1-6. Opponents of this interpretation
include J.A. Thompson, who contends that the weakness of Devlin's
position is the slim likelihood of American intervention in the
absence of the German submarine campaign. He claims that without
such a direct challenge to the United States, it is hard to
believe that Wilson would have gone to war for the prospects of
American participation in the eventual peace settlement, since
the driving force behind his previous attempts at mediation had
been to avoid war altogether. Is was only after the battle had
been joined that the desire for an American hand in the
settlement became an over-arching theme of Wilson's policy. See
Thompson, "Woodrow Wilson and World War I: A Reappraisal,"
_Journal of American Studies_ 19 (December 1985-: 338-47. A
middle ground is struck by Arthur Link, who claims that although
Wilson's decision for war was governed in great part by an eye to
the diplomatic resolution of the conflict, the President was more
concerned with preventing a peace on Germany's terms than on
assuring a peace on those of the United States. His policies
once committed to belligerency, however, were governed by his
desire for participation in the settlement. See Link, _Wilson,
the Diplomatist: A Look at His Major Foreign Policies_
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1957-, 88-90; David F.
Trask, _The United States in the Supreme War Council: American
War Aims and Inter-Allied Strategy, 1917-1918_ (Middletown, CT:
Wesleyan University Press, 1961-, 5-7; Trask, "Woodrow Wilson and
World War I," 6-11.
16. Baker to Peyton C. March, 7 September 1927, Box 150, Baker
Papers, LOC, quoted in Edward M. Coffman, "The American Military
and Strategic Policy in World War I," in _War Aims and Strategic
Policy in the Great War, 1914-1918_, ed. Barry Hunt and Adrian
Preston (London: Croom Helm, 1977-, 75; The War College
Division seems to have decided on the Western Front by early
June, when it began drafting plans for sending more American
troops to France. Kuhn to Bliss, 7 June 1917, Subj: Tactical
reorganization required to meet requirements in the European
theatre of war and program for the progressive dispatch of troops
to France, RG 165/10050-30, NA. See also Daniel R. Beaver,
_Newton D. Baker and the American War Effort, 1917-1919_
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966-, 46-9; Nenninger,
"American Military Effectiveness in the First World War," in
_Military Effectiveness_, vol 1: _The First World War_, ed.
Allan R. Millet and Williamson Murray (1989-, 124.
17. Sargeant's plan, dated 6 September 1917, was sent to Baker
by Wilson on 22 September 1917, Box 4, Document 141, Baker
Papers, LOC. Note that Baker himself incorrectly refers to this
letter as having been sent on 12 September in his response to
Wilson, 22 September 1917, Box 4, Document 140, Baker Papers,
LOC. Although his ideas would be rejected, Sargeant remained a
committed "easterner." See Sargeant's series of articles in the
_North American Review_ between February and October, 1919,
published as _The Strategy on the Western Front (1914-1918-_
(Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1920-.
18. This and the following five paragraphs come from P. D.
Lochridge, acting Chief of War College Division, to Chief of
Staff Tasker H. Bliss, 28 September 1917, RG 165/10050-111, NA.
19. Kuhn to Bliss, 7 June 1917, Subj: Tactical reorganization
required to meet requirements in the European theatre of war and
program for the progressive dispatch of troops to France, RG
165/10050-30, NA. Baker seems to have doubted the feasibility of
this plan rather quickly, considering that less than a month
later he told former Chief of Staff Hugh Scott (at the time
serving with the Root Mission in Russia- that "no definite plan
has yet been made about the dispatch of further troops abroad. .
. ." Baker to Scott, Petrograd, Russia, 1 July 1917, Box 3,
Document 113, Baker Papers, LOC.
20. Here Lochridge was specifically applying these reasons to
refute the idea of a Russian front, but the War College Division
would use similar reasoning in the context of other alternatives;
Ronald Spector, "'You're Not Going to Send Soldiers Over There
Are You!': The American Search for Alternatives to the Western
Front, 1916-1917." _Military Affairs_ 36 (February 1972-: 3.
21. Baker to Wilson, 11 October 1917, _PWW_, 44:361; Baker to
Wilson, 11 November 1917, Box 4, Document 234, Baker Papers, LOC.
22. Spector, "'You're Not Going to Send Soldiers Over There Are
You!'," 4; James L. Stokesbury, _A Short History of World War I_
(New York: William Morrow, 1981-, 246-48; Timothy K. Nenninger,
"American Military Effectiveness in the First World War," 126-
23. See Allan R. Millet, "Over Where? The AEF and the American
Strategy for Victory, 1917-1918," in _Against All Enemies:
Interpretations of American Military History from Colonial Times
to the Present_, eds. Kenneth J. Hagan and William Roberts,
Contributions in Military Studies 51 (New York: Greenwood Press,
1986-: 235-56; Edward M. Coffman, _The Hilt of the Sword: The
Career of Peyton C. March_ (Madison: University of Wisconsin
Press, 1966-; Link and Chambers, "Woodrow Wilson as Commander-in-
Chief," 319-24.

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