WHEREAS, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America; therefore, be it
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has thus been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared; and
That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”
-U.S. Declaration of War against the German Empire, April 6th, 1917
100 years ago today the U.S. Senate passed a Declaration of War on the German Empire.
When America entered the war, it was totally unprepared. While combatant armies in Europe numbered in the millions, the U.S. Army consisted of fewer than 135,000 troops. These American soldiers were devoid of much critical modern military equipment: for example the Army had ZERO steel helmets, ZERO tanks, ZERO gas masks, and very little modern artillery. Furthermore, in spite of the Wright Brothers inventing powered flight, American military aviation was virtually non-existent. TO make matters even worse, the U.S. military had little or no appreciation of the skills and training it would need to survive and win on the Western Front.
Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO
Once committed, the United States made a concerted national effort to get itself on a war footing. The government consolidated control over broadcasting, industry, and transportation, and the size of the military exploded. By Armistice Day the U.S. military had grown to over 4 Million members, and the American Expeditionary Force in France included over a million troops, about half of whom saw combat. The Americans relied heavily on the British and French for equipment, but made good use of the equipment received, putting dozens of artillery battalions and even four tank battalions into action against the Germans. Sadly, these American troops had to learn things the hard way. At Cantigny, Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne they would pay in blood for the expertise the British and French had earned at such high cost at places like Verdun, the Somme, the Marne, the Aisne, Passchendaele, Ypres, and Arras.
But all of that was in the future. In April 1917, a visitor to the 400+ miles of trenches along the Western Front might be forgiven for not knowing that America had entered the war; there was no immediate material effect. There was, however, a psychological effect: now the Allied troops had a glimmer of hope, because now they knew “The Yanks are coming.”
Post on America’s slide toward war: https://robertkrenzel.com/2017/03/22/100-years-on-america-slides-toward-the-great-war
National World War I Museum page on America’s Entry into the Great War: https://www.theworldwar.org/us-enters-war
US Department of State Historian website: https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/wwi
Robert Krenzel Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RobertKrenzelAuthor
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