Our 15th Anniversary Issue

Thoughts on Our 15th Anniversary

A number of you have inquired as to why we turn out both a daily blog, Roads to the Great War, and a monthly newsletter, The St. Mihiel Trip-Wire. When our graphics designer, Shannon Niel, convinced me in 2013 that I needed a blog to reach a younger audience (she was a recent college graduate at the time), I myself wondered if I would need both. Fearing the blog might be a bust, though, I kept the Trip-Wire going. Events convinced me to keep them both; readership has grown over time for each of them. I know some of you read both, but I think everyone would be quite surprised to see how little overlap there is between the two subscription lists. All I can guess is that some WWI enthusiasts like a daily fix on a single topic, and others like an occasional big and varied dose.

Another issue that I used to think about is tinkering with the layout of the Trip-Wire or converting it to Facebook. When I visit the new WWI websites that are popping up all the time, I'm a little envious. They look so spiffy and have all sorts of special features. But then, when I compare these snazzy sites to this one, there is always one area where the Trip-Wire comes out on top. It's in the scope and variety of the material we provide. And try as I might, I can't think of a way of updating the site without compromising on those qualities. So, I'm not changing.

Anyway, thanks for your continued readership over the years. Onward! MH

Presenting the 131st Issue of Our
Monthly Magazine of the First World War
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1917 America Joins the Fight

   National WWI Museum & Memorial
Kansas City, MO
3-4 November 2017
Details: HERE

Presidio of San Francisco
Concert: Music of James Reese Europe

   Officer's Club
6 p.m., 2 November 2017
Details: HERE

National WWI Memorial
Ceremonial Groundbreaking

   Pershing Park
11 a.m., 9 November 2017
Details: HERE

Click on the Image to Visit Our Daily Blog.

Poster of the Month

U.S. School Garden Army, Department of Interior Poster
Artist: Unknown (LOC Collection)

Caporetto 1917

The Battle of Caporetto, which began on 24 October 1917, continued until early December of that year. It was a struggle that came close to eliminating Italy from the war, but strangely left the Italian Army with a more defensible position and triggered a political unity that stabilized and revitalized the nation's war effort.

Caporetto Overview with Map

How Did the Disaster at Caporetto Occur?

Caporetto: A Fresh Look

The Allies' Post-Caporetto Support of Italy

The Post-Caporetto Response of Italy's Government & Army

The Kobarid (Formerly Caporetto) Museum

Can You Name This WWI Veteran?
Win a Free Issue of OVER THE TOP!

Hint: This veteran of France's 31st Regiment of Infantry and prisoner of war, would gain worldwide fame on stage and screen after the war.

If you can name this World War I veteran, we will send you a free issue of our monthly subscription magazine, OVER THE TOP. Email your answers HERE.

The War Summarized

It is enough, if not too much, to say that there was a great and dreadful war in Europe, and that nightmare and chaos and the abomination of desolation held sway for four horrid years. . . Men and Women acted blindly, according to their kind. . . They went to the war, they stayed home. . . they got rich, they got poor, they died, were maimed, medaled, frost-bitten, tortured, imprisoned, bored, embittered, enthusiastic, cheerful, hopeless, patient, or matter-of-fact, according to circumstances and temperament.

Rose Macaulay,
Told by an Idiot, 1923

U.S. Centennial Organizations & Resources

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The Centennial Ticker

Earlier this month, the city of Versailles, France rededicated a pair of major memorial statues in their city–one to WWI American General John Pershing and the other to American Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette. These statues were conceived and started after the close of World War I, as a thank-you and remembrance of the fraternity between the U.S. and France. However, the peace after World War I was imperfect, and the permanent statues were not completed–until this past month.

At the Avenue de Versailles, France – 6 October 2017

Lafayette and Pershing
The French-American Legacy Commemorated

Commissioner Monique Seefried, representing the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, attended the event. She has been a friend and supporter of our work at and has been a tireless worker to build interest and appreciation in America of our WWI heritage. Even before her appointment, Monique was a major force behind the new Rainbow Division Memorial at Croix Rouge Farm in France. Currently, she is regularly traveling to France to plan the ceremonies for the centennial remembrances of the American battles of 1918. The commissioner was recently interviewed by Director of Public Affairs Chris Isleib about the history of the double monument and the dedication ceremony. Below are some of her comments.

Centennial Commissioner Monique Seefried

In February 1937, a committee is created in France to erect a memorial symbolizing the participation of the Americans in France during the Great War and the participation of the French in the American Revolution. Among the members of the council of administration of the committee are the president of the Republic Albert Lebrun, Premier (president du conseil des ministres) Leon Blum and Marechal Pétain. The architect Carlu (who designed the Trocadero) is chosen for the base, the sculptor Joachim Costa for the equestrian statue of Pershing and Paul Wayland Bartlett (designed Michelangelo in the Library of Congress and on the façade of the NY Public Library) for the statue of Lafayette. He also designed the Lafayette now on the Cours la Reine in Paris. The project has to be realized with great urgency in order to have General Pershing present in France in October attend the inauguration. This takes place on 6 October 1937.

Situated at the Butte de Picardie, on the entrance of the Avenue de Versailles, flanking both sides of the road, the pedestals are 15 meters high and list respectively all the major battles fought by the Americans in France in 1918 and those fought by the French during the American Revolution. The pedestals are erected in 36 days and plasters of the two statues are placed atop the columns. By 1941, the plaster statues are removed, as they are getting damaged, exposed to the elements. The bronze are not cast due to the war.

General Lafayette

In 1951, President Herriot tries to raise funds for the two bronze statues, but the project, continuing for a 10 year period, doesn’t come to fruition. By 2002, a local association raised the funds to restore the pedestals which had gotten damaged. They are inscribed in the National Register of Historical Monuments. A second inauguration takes place in 2011 for the two restored pedestals and a campaign is launched to have the bronze statues erected. It was led by the Pershing Lafayette Association in Versailles, the Cincinnati, the DAR, and the SAR.(See for details. This is finally done and the beautiful statues in patinated resin were inaugurated on 6 October 2017, 80 years after the first inauguration.

The tribunes were under the statue of Lafayette, facing the statue of General Pershing. French and American color guards attended, as well as military bands and several choirs of school children, including the young ladies of the Legion of Honor (boarding school for daughters of Legion of Honor recipients). Speeches were made by French politicians and the U.S. chargé d’affaires retold the story of the statues, as well as retracing the historical bonds between France and the United States.

Before General Pershing, U.S. Chargé d’ Affaires Brent Hardt Addresses the Audience

The presence of so many young people, the poems they read, and the presentations they made of the lives of both Pershing and Lafayette, were a strong symbol of how France wants to involve young generations to perpetuate the French-American legacy and continuing to build on the bonds of friendship, learning the lessons of the past, and preparing the future. The role of the Americans in WWI is very well known in France and Lafayette and the French troops participating in the American Revolution is well known in the US, but much, much less in France. Hence this is an important theme, a long view of history and a strong bond for the values that came out of the American and French revolutions, and declaration of the rights of man. . .

Doughboy and Volunteer Reenactors at the Ceremony

Commissioner Seefried's Entire Interview with Chris Isleib can be read HERE.

November 1917 (October, Old System)
A Bolshevik Coup d'état Overthrows Russia's Provisional Government

Lenin and Trotsky at a Post-Revolution Celebration

In 1917 the Great War and a dedicated band of professional revolutionaries destroyed the Romanov dynasty and the Russian state. Discontent with the prosecution of the war led to the Tsar's abdication, and the Provisional Government that succeeded him tried the impossible–continuing the war with a demoralized army and a population longing for peace at almost any cost. In its eight-month history, the Provisional Government was repeatedly reorganized and suffered a series of debilitating crises, mostly self-inflicted.

But while the Provisional Government’s power waned, that of the Soviets, the local councils of workers and deputies supporting revolution was increasing, as was that of V.I. Lenin's Bolsheviks' influence within them. By September the Bolsheviks and their allies had overtaken the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, who had been cooperating with the government, and held majorities in both the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets.

Typical Red Guard Detachment from Petrograd's Vulkan Factory

By autumn, Lenin's programs of "peace, land, and bread" and "all power to the Soviets" had won the party considerable support among the hungry urban workers and the soldiers, who were already deserting from the ranks in large numbers. A previous coup d'état had failed in July, resulting in the flight back to Finland of Lenin and the arrest of Trotsky and other key Bolshevik lieutenants. In the next crisis, involving the threat of a military coup, the support of the Bolsheviks had proven valuable to the government. Past sins were forgiven and Trotsky was released from prison. With Lenin still out of the country, he became the face of the party and the head of the Petrograd Soviet. Trotsky saw that with the Provisional Government still wobbly a new opportunity was available to overthrow it. He decided to attempt to overthrow the government in late October, in conjunction with a meeting of the Congress of Russian Soviets which was to convene in Petrograd.

On 6-8 November (October 24–26, O.S.) the Bolsheviks, brilliantly led by Trotsky, perfectly executed a coup d'éat, occupying government buildings, bridges, telegraph stations, and other strategic points with only a thousand Red Guards, the Soviet's paramilitary forces, actively involved. Kerensky's government simply dissolved as his ministers were arrested in their offices. The centerpiece of the coup, destined to be its historical symbol, was the capture of the Winter Palace, completed at 2 a.m. on 26 October. Remarkably, there was almost no blood spilled in the takeover. That evening, Lenin announced to the Congress of Soviets: "We shall now take up the formation of the socialist state..." The Congress immediately approved the formation of a new government composed mainly of Bolshevik commissars.

Prime Minister Kerensky’s attempt to organize resistance proved futile, and he fled the country. The Bolsheviks were now in charge of the government of Russia, but not the entire country. After leaving the war under disadvantageous terms, they would be forced to deal with interventions by the Allied powers and fight and prevail in a devastating civil war before fully consolidating their power. Once accomplished, however, they insured that the October Revolution would prove a major turning point in world history.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia

Our 2018 Centennial Battlefield Tours


Kaiser's Offensives &
the British Army's 100 Days

6 – 14 May 2018: Study of Germany's Last Effort to Win the War and the British Victory Offensive.

Includes: German advances in the Somme, Flanders, and the Marne Sectors, the Black Day of the German Army, the St. Quentin Canal, and the pursuit to Mons.

Reduced Price — $3,450 (dbl occupancy, sgl supp avail)

The full brochure covering the trip and registration details can now be downloaded


AEF: Pershing's Doughboys Centennial
Now Fully Booked – Waiting List Only

7 – 17 August 2018: Comprehensive Study of the American Expeditionary Force

Includes: All major battles, memorials, cemeteries, and service sites of your family members.

Price — $3,750 (dbl occupancy, sgl supp avail)

The full brochure covering the trip and registration details can now be downloaded

Click on Title to Access Story
Marie Curie and Her WWI X-Ray Vehicles

The Canary Girls and the Poisons That Turned Them Yellow

War Photos, Paintings and Sketches of Lt. Caggett Wilson, 2nd Division, AEF

Indian Soldiers Fought to Liberate Israel

Commentary: The Myth of the Horrible Trenches

British Soldiers Pose for Photos Just Before the Somme

100,000 Dead: California's War on Squirrels

Revamping the Vamp: Mata Hari Re-examined

Rush County, Indiana, at War

A Magnificent WWI Memorial: Ireland's Oratory of the Sacred Heart

Thanks to each and every one of you who has contributed material for this issue. Until our next issue, your editor, Mike Hanlon.
(Or send it to a friend)

Design by Shannon Niel
Content © Michael E. Hanlon