On October 22, 1918, Marshal Petain, Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, issued Order No. 10805D part of which records one of the greatest legends of American military history:

The 4th American Brigade; Under the orders of Brigadier General James G. Harbord, and Comprising:

       The 5th Marine Regiment, under the command of Colonel Wendell C. Neville
      The 6th Marine Regiment, under the command of Colonel Albertus W. Catlin
      The 6th [Marine] Machine Gun Battalion, under the command of Major Edward B. Cole

After the Battle: Belleau Wood from the Original Frontline
Library of Congress Photo

. . . Were thrown into full battle over a front that was violently attacked by the enemy [and] proved themselves at once to be a first class combat unit. As soon as they entered the lines, in liaison with neighbouring French units, they were confronted by a violent attack. After repelling this attack and acting on their own account, they regained the initiative and successfully pressed forward a series of offensive operations. During these operations, thank to the courage, the brilliance, the high spirits and the tenacity of the men, as well as the drive of their officers; thanks lastly to the leadership of General Harbord; the efforts of the 4th Brigade were crowned with success. In close liaison with each other, the two regiments of the 4th American Brigade, and their machine gun battalion fought incessantly during a period of 12 days (from June 2nd to June 13th, 1918). They progressed forward 1.5 km to 2.0 km over a front 4 km wide, capturing 500 prisoners and inflicting heavy casualties to the enemy. Lastly, they captured two important enemy strongholds; the village of Bouresches and the organized position of Bois Belleau.

The story of the Marine Brigade at Belleau Wood is one of grim, relentless willful struggle. In under three weeks, in an area covering about a square mile 5,400 Marines were killed and wounded assaulting what was really one gigantic, well camouphlaged machine gun nest. The sacrifice resulted in a morale boost for America's allies, a public relations bonanza for the Corps and a strong message to the German high command that the Yanks were coming to fight. Below are a number of websites in which the Great War Society and some of our friends tell the story of Belleau Wood. Please don't miss the last stop which is a visit to Aisne-Marne Cemetery next to the wood.

After the Battle: North Edge of Woods
Village of Belleau in Distance
Library of Congress Photo

Visit These Sites

Battle for Belleau Wood

German Defensive Plan at Belleau Wood

Last to Die: A Great War Mystery Solved

Comments of the Combatants at Belleau Wood

Belleau Wood 80 Years After - A Photo Essay by Edward Swaim

Devil Dog Fountain
From Bradley Omansen's Scuttlebutt and Small Chow Site

How Modern Leathernecks Learn About Belleau Wood

Aisne Marne [Belleau Wood] Cemetery

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Additions and comments on these pages may be directed to: Michael E. Hanlon (
Original artwork & copy; © 1998-2005, TGWS.