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Twenty-six years before General Patton and the D-Day landings, a young and bold American army entered France and the battle lines of the First World War. In the last year of "The Great War", the Western Front evolved from static trench warfare, which had typified the previous three years, to a more mobile, open battlefield. The arrival of the American Expeditionary Forces bolstered the allied countries’ defense of France and the protection of its capital, Paris. To the east of the city lay the Marne River Valley, the conduit from Paris into the Champagne region and most importantly to France’s northeastern fortress city of Verdun.
This is the story of those American soldiers who filled the gaps in the French Army’s defensive lines along the banks of the Marne, stopping Germany’s last offensive to capture Paris. A single U.S. Army regiment from a division untested in battle stood fast against the spearhead of the German Offensive of July 1918, and is known forever as the “Rock of the Marne”. It is these men from the 38th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division who shattered the last German hopes of victory and fought to keep Champagne French.
On April 6, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany. The same day, a young Washington & Lee University student was discussing Germany’s submarine attacks on American ships and the Zimmermann Telegram suggesting Mexico attack the U.S. with his fellow classmates. They proceeded to walk to the adjoining campus of Virginia Military Institute and enlisted in the Army. For these students, it was a five-minute walk that would change their lives forever.
James Edward Moore, the stepson of a Presbyterian minister, had no previous military training. Nevertheless, he had a sense of patriotic duty and was physically fit. After his initial training at VMI, he was ordered to Ft. Benjamin Harrison for Officer’s Training and became a Second Lieutenant in November 1917. He was assigned to 'A' Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 6th Brigade, 3rd Division in December 1917 at Camp Greene, North Carolina near Charlotte. By March, 1918, he was deployed to France to fight in the penultimate battle that was the beginning of the end of the German offense in World War I. This is also the story of his journey from a quiet small town in West Virginia to the brutality of the battlefields of France.