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Great War Army

The deployment of the American Expeditionary Force to France during World War I was the first opportunity in the 20th century for the US Army to conduct large unit operations. It represents the first war in which all elements of today's combined arms wera represented. General John Pershing's early exposure to European armies greatly influenced the development of his own force in World War I. The armies of France, Germany, and Russia were organized into armies and groups of armies. By comparison, Pershing's force quickly grew from an initial requirement of twenty divisions into one with forty-three divisions organized into the First, Second, and Third Field Armies. Unlike his European allies, however, Pershing chose to retain operational control of his armies through a general headquarters rather than constituting an army group headquarters. Nonetheless, the army learned many lessons that would affect army organization and operations in World War II.

The first American field army to be distinctly grouped for action in France came into existence early in August. It later became the First American Army. The Second American Army was formally organized October I2th. The American people first learned of their first army through mention in the news of "Liggett's Army," in the days of the Marne drive. After the American front passed beyond St. Mihiel and Verdun in September, "Bullard's Army" received distinct mention in the news and toward the end of October was heralded as the Second American Army. The Third American Army was composed of divisional units selected to occupy enemy territory under the terms of the armistice.

In giving to its armies numerical designation America adopted modern European methods. During the great drive of July 1918, when American troops began forging ahead and beating down seasoned German units with gallantry equalling that of their Allies some writer "over there" coined the title, "Army of the Marne," a dignified and happy form to hand down classic memories and one Civil War analogy may live. In the Civil War great armies were developed by local military problems and their names grew out of local circumstances. The great Federal Army of the East took its name from a river, the Potomac, and its antagonist, the great Confederate army of Lee, bore the name of the state which it was created to defend, Virginia. There were seventeen Federal armies acting as separate units, five of them bearing the name of a river, eight that of a state and four the name of the section wherein they operated. The Confederate States had in all twenty-three separate armies of which four took the name of a river; eleven the name of a state and eight of a section.

If America's First Army, Second Army, Third Army and all the rest had come trooping home distinguished by synonyms borrowed from famous rivers or other classical landmarks, including the Elbe, the Danube and the Rhine, as well as the Argonne and the Marne, they would have followed precedent set in many wars. The troops make an army great and its name illustrious. But this did not happen.


  • First Corps Area - Includes the North Atlantic Coast Artillery District and the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island; headquarters, 99 Chauncey Street, Boston, Mass.
  • Second Corps Area - Includes the States of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware; headquarters, Governors Island, New York. The island of Porto Rico, with the islands and keys adjacent thereto, is, for administrative purposes, attached to the Second Corps Area.
  • Third Corps Area - Includes the States of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia; headquarters, Ft. McHenry, Md. (temporarily at Baltimore, Md.).


  • Fourth Corps Area - Includes the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana; headquarters, Ft. McPherson, Ga. (temporarily at Charleston, S. C.).
  • Fifth Corps Area - Includes the States of Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky; headquarters, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.
  • Sixth Corps Area - Includes the States of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin; headquarters, Ft. Sheridan, Ill. (temporarily at Chicago, Ill.).


  • Seventh Corps Area - Includes the States of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota; headquarters, Ft. Crook, Neb.
  • Eighth Corps Area - Includes the States of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona; headquarters, Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Tex.
  • Ninth Corps Area - Includes the North Pacific Coast Artillery District, the South Pacific Coast Artillery District; the States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California; headquarters, Presidio of San Francisco, Cal. (temporarily at San Francisco, Cal.). The territory of Alaska is attached to the Ninth Corps Area for administrative purposes.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:34:12 ZULU