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Second U.S. Army

In consequence of the enormous number of men engaged and the great extension of the front, it had become necessary to constitute a Second Army before the final offensive. The colors of the insignia come from the standard colors of an army headquarters used by both French and Americans, a flag of red and white (the red being the upper half) to mark the headquarters of the army, and a small piece of ribbon, similarly colored, worn on the front of the coat by staff officers of a French army.

General Pershing, who had personally commanded the First Army in addition to performing the functions of Commander-inch ief, now turned over the command of the First Army to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett. The divisions which were in the sector of the Woevre, east of Verdun, were organized as the Second Army under the command of Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard. Major General Dickman was assigned to the command of the 1st Corps, Major General Charles P. Summerall to the 5th Corps and Major General Hines to the 3rd Corps. These changes occurred on the 10th of October, while the 89th Division was en route to the Meuse-Argonne battle. It thus became a part of the Second Army- on the 10th and llth of October, but on the 12th was transferred to the First Army and ultimately assigned to the 5th Corps, which then consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 32nd and 42nd Divisions.

On October 12, 1918 General Pershing divided his command of 72 miles of front into two armies. To command the First Army he called General Liggett from the First Corps, and to the Second Army he called General Bullard from the Third Corps. The First Army sector extended from the Argonne to Fresnes-en-Wccvre, and that of the Second Army extended from there to Clemery, north of Nancy. From October 12, when General Bullard assumed command, or in fact ever since the closing of the St. Mihiel offensive, the sector of the Second American Army was very quiet and remained so until November 10.

The history of the Second Army is interesting not so much for what it achieved, as for what it might have achieved had not the armistice come when it did. From September 26 until November 10, this sector was used as a rest sector where divisions which had seen hard service in the Argonne were sent to rest and reorganize. The 35th, the 79th, the 28th, the 4th, the 33rd and the 92nd Divisions were among those sent there after the Argonne, while the 7th, the 81st and the 88th Divisions saw in these sectors their only action of the war.

By the first week in November, the great Allied offensive, from the English Channel to Metz, was advancing rapidly except in front of Metz itself. The extreme right of the Allied attack was in front of the town of Ornes. Between this town and the Moselle the lines were very quiet. Marshal Foch then decided that with the Germans using all their energies to pull their army out of France and Belgium, and establish their defense on the Liege-Metz line, the time was ripe to take Metz. To do this a double attack which would envelop the fortress, was decided upon.

The Second American Army was to strike in conjunction with the rapid advance of the Firs; American Army, and drive toward Briey, north of Metz, while General Mangin's Tenth French Army was to drive for Chateau-Salins, southeast of Metz. For this joint attack seven American and nineteen French divisions were assembled. According to the orders, the Second American Army was to begin the attack on November 10, and the Tenth French Army a few days later. The Second American Army was to drive towards Conflans, while the Tenth French Army drove towards the Saar and Rhine valleys. The Second American Army had four divisions in line, the 33rd, 28th, 7th, 92nd, along a front of 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Fresnes-enWcevre to Port-sur-Seille (8 kilometers east of the Moselle), while in reserve for this attack were the 4th, 35th, 88th and 8snd Divisions. These were to initiate the attack as they stood, while on the i4th of November, it was planned that General Mangin's Tenth French Army would attack through the French Eighth Army, with ten Divisions in line, and nine in reserve. Also the First American Army was preparing to attack on November 15, with six to eight divisions, in the direction of Montmedy and Longuyon.

The extreme right of the First American Army was the Second Colonial French Corps, with the loth French Colonial Division on the left, in liaison with the 26th Division, and the 8 ist Division on the right. At Fresnes-en-Woevre the right of the 8ist Division (General Bailey) and the left of the 33rd (General Bell) met and this was the left of the Second American Army. The left of this division touched the right of the 28th Division (General Hay) at Seigneulles brook, north of Hatton-Chatel. The latter division extended to the Rupt-de-Mad, where it joined the left of the 7th Division (General Wittenmyer). From there the 7th held the line as far as Preny, where the 92nd Division (General Ballou) formed the right of the Second American Army. This was the front which had been made on September 15 at the close of the St. Mihiel operation. Behind these four divisions in line were the four divisions in reserve, the 88th (General Weigel), 4th (General Hersey), 35th (General Traub), and the 82nd (General Duncan).

Operating under the Second Army were three corps, the Fourth (General Muir) and Sixth (General Menoher) American and the 17th French. The latter had the 33rd Division in line, the Fourth U. S. Corps had the 28th Division and the 7th in line, and the Sixth U. S. Corps had the 92nd Division in the line. The divisions were on a wide front and as the operation developed, the plan was to put the reserve divisions in and thus give each corps two divisions in line.

Opposite the Second Army the Germans had eleven divisions from left to right-the in Bavarian, xin Landwehr, Lxv and xciv Reserve, v, vn, and cxxiv Landwehr Divisions of Von Gallowitz's Army and the Cxlv Division and the xxxi and Lxxx1v Landwehr Brigades of the Army of the Archduke of Wurtemburg.

On November 1 an order was issued by the Second Army covering the action to be taken in case the enemy retired on the Liege-Metz line. The Seventeenth French Corps was to advance on Conflans, in conjunction with the advance of the First Army on Briey. The Fourth Corps was to advance on Vionville, and the Sixth Corps was to hold the pivot, and maintain liaison with the enemy by means of strong patrols. All that was needed to put this order in operation was the announcement of "D" day.

On November 4, as the Austro-Hungarian divisions had been withdrawn from the front, upon the signing of the Austrian armistice, Marshal Foch directed that vigorous local operations should be begun to discover what operations the enemy intended on this front. The Austrian armistice had withdrawn one division from the front of the Second Army, and there was every belief that the Germans, who saw them leaving, might suffer greatly in morale. General Pershing then ordered the First American Army to push its offensive north to the Meuse, and also to clear the right bank so that the First and Second Armies could move abreast towards their goal. Meanwhile orders were given to the Second Army which led to the selection of one brigade from the 28th Division and one brigade from the 7th Division to move through the hilly country along the Rupt-de-Mad in the direction of Chambley, with a limited objective of the Michael Stellung and the eastern edge of the Bois de Grande Fontaine. This attack was originally planned for the nth of November, but, as the German retirement from all fronts became so rapid, it was ordered ahead to the loth, and a greater front was covered than was at first contemplated.

While the Second American Army was making preparations for this attack, the right of the First American Army (the 2nd French Colonial Corps with the loth French Colonial Division on the left, and the 81st Division on the right) began offensive operations between Ornes, where the 26th Division was advancing, and Fresnes-en-Wcevre, where the 33rd Division of the Second Army was about to advance.

The~policy of allied leadership was to fight until the last minute lest there should be some hitch. The American i plans called for an advance toward Longwy by the First Army in co-operation with the Second Army, which was to threaten the Briey ironfields. If the war had kept up, this would have been followed by an offensive in the direction of Chateau-Salins, with the ultimate object of cutting off Metz. The attack of the Second Army was actually in progress when the time came set in the armistice for the cessation of hostilities. At eleven o'clock the hostilities ceased suddenly, although just before that the Second Army was advancing against heavy and determined machine-gun fire, with both sides apparently unwilling to believe that the war was almost over. At other points in the line where no offensive was set for the last day, the artillerymen had the final word to say. Most of the American guns fired at the foe just before eleven o'clock, and in many batteries the gunners joined hands to pull the lanyards so that all might have a share in the final defiance to Germany.

In the reorganization after the armistice the Second Army consisted of the Sixth and Ninth Corps, and was stationed around Metz, Tout, and St. Mihiel, engaged in salvage work. Total strength of Second Army on day of armistice, 215,649, exclusive of the Second French Colonial Corps.

The Army was discontinued April 15, 1919.

  1. IV Corps, October 12, 1918, to November 17, 1918.
  2. VI Corps, October 12, 1918, to April, 1919.
  3. IX Corps, December 3, 1918, to April 15, 1919.
  4. II French Colonial Corps, October 12, 1918, to November 6, 1918.
  5. VIII French Corps, November 9, 1918, to November 13, 1918.
  1. 3d Division, November 4, 1918, to November 17, 1918.
  2. 4th Division, October 24, 1918, to November 17, 1918.
  3. 5th Division, December 12, 1918, to April 1, 1919.
  4. 7th Division, October 12, 1918, to April 15, 1919.
  5. 28th Division, October 12, 1918, to March 5, 1919.
  6. 33rd Division, October 25, 1918, to December 12, 1918.
  7. December 17, 1918, to April 1, 1919.
  8. 35th Division, November 8, 1918, to February 20, 1919.
  9. 37th Division, October 12, 191S, to October 18, 1918.
  10. 79th Division, October 12, 1918, to April 10, 1919.
  11. 88th Division, November 6, 1918, to April 15, 1919.
  12. 92nd Division, October 12, 1918, to December 15, 1918.
  13. 85th Division (replacement), December 1, 1918, to January 14, 1919.

Second US Army in the Cold War

On January 1, 1966, First and Second Armies merged and First Army headquarters moved to Fort Meade, MD. In 1973, First Army transitioned from an Active Army oriented organization to one dedicated to improving the readiness of Reserve Components. Once again, in 1983, another reorganization took place. Second U.S. Army was reactivated at Fort Gillem, GA, and assumed responsibility for Reserve Component matters in seven states and two territories formerly belonging to First Army.

One key post-World War II event at Fort Meade was the transfer from Baltimore, on June 15, 1947, of the Second U.S. Army Headquarters. This transfer brought an acceleration of post activity, because Second Army Headquarters exercised command over Army units throughout a then seven-state area. A second important development occurred on January 1, 1966, when the Second U.S. Army merged with the First U.S. Army. The consolidated headquarters moved from Fort Jay, N.Y. to Fort Meade to administer activities of Army installations in a 15-state area.

In 1973, First Army transitioned from an Active Army oriented organization to one dedicated to improving the readiness of Reserve Components. Once again, in 1983, another reorganization took place. Second U.S. Army was reactivated at Fort Gillem, GA, and assumed responsibility for Reserve Component matters in seven states and two territories formerly belonging to First Army. In 1991, Fourth U.S. Army was deactivated and its seven mid-western states rejoined First Army. First Army left Fort Meade, Md., in 1995 and was reorganized at Fort Gillem, Ga., upon the deactivation of Second Army. First Army's area increased to include the eastern half of the United States and two territories.

The five continental United States armies (CONUSAs) - the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth armies - commanded the USAR troop units within their geographical areas. They also directed the training of ARNG units within their geographical areas in accordance with HQDA and FORSCOM guidance. FORSCOM assigned the CONUSAs operational control for mobilization and deployment at all mobilization stations in their areas. In the event of full-scale mobilization, the CONUSAs were scheduled to become Joint Regional Defense Commands.

In 1995 all but two of the Continental United States Armies (CONUSA) were inactivated - First and Fifth remained active, while Second was inactivated. In late 1994 Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr. and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan announced a plan to restructure the Army as directed by the October 1993 Bottom-Up Review. The First U.S. Army at Fort Meade, Md., and Sixth U.S. Army at the Presidio of San Francisco, Calif., were inactivated under the reorganization plan. Oversight for National Guard and Army Reserve training and mobilization consolidated under the two remaining CONUS-based army headquarters by the end of fiscal 1995. Second U.S. Army at Fort Gillem, Ga., controls reserve units from Minnesota to Louisiana and eastward. And Fifth U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, controls reserve units in the western United States.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:25:09 ZULU