To the Victor, Go the Spoils (Redux): A Plausible Central Powers Victory

Kaiserschlacht: The Battle of Belleau (June 1918)
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The Kaiserschlacht
The Battle of Belleau
June 1918

The Battle of Belleau would be the first American offensive action in the First World War, and one of the most important. Under pressure from the German Seventh Army (Bohn), which had broken through the line in the Third Battle of the Aisne, French forces were slowly losing ground to the numerically superior German forces in the direction of Paris, prompting panic in the city. The French High Command, under Supreme Commander Foch and Commander in Chief Petain, was enormously overstretched after being forced to man a frontline stretching from Conde-Folie, to the west of Amiens, to the Swiss border following the detachment of the British Expeditionary Forces from the frontline via rail - even if they still were technically connected via road.

This made a counterattack of some form absolutely vital to prevent the collapse of the French centre, and meant that American forces would need to become involved in the conflict immediately, despite being still unprepared for any direct action. As such, the first three divisions of the American Expeditionary Force under General Pershing, which were twice as large as regular British and French divisions, prepared an attack for the 11th June.

The attack itself was a simple plan; American forces would advance over the Marne into and around Chateau-Thierry, before seizing the high ground around and to the east of the village of Belleau - securing a high point to observe and fire upon the enemy. Employing a ‘creeping barrage’, American forces aimed to launch the attack with surprise by not launching any pre-bombardment of German positions, thus overwhelming their positions before they realised an attack had begun.

General Pershing would later summarise the battle as “the biggest battle since Appomattox, and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy”. Unfortunately for Pershing, this was meant to justify, not glorify the battle. Fighting in forests, overgrown wheat and more often than not in savage hand to hand fighting, the battle would prove a disaster both to American morale, and that of the Entente as the American forces were brutalised by experienced and motivated German infantry.

On the morning of June 11th American forces attacked. The previous two days had seen heavy rain inundate the hill American troops were expected to climb, and so even before the battle the Americans were faced with treacherous conditions. Unfamiliar with the experience of trench warfare, despite instruction by British and French officers, the Americans advanced on the wood in line formation, walking at the enemy. With the sun rising in the east, it meant the Germans were presented with a near perfect target of slow moving, muddy, falling American troops who proceeded to be hammered with artillery and machine gun fire - the battle from the outset had started poorly.

Despite this, American troops performed admirably given their circumstances. Determined, eager and brave, they soon broke into the woods and began the famous hand to hand fighting that would come to define the battle. Using knives, bayonets, shovels and their entrenching kits, the fighting also saw the deployment of mustard gas against the advancing Americans. Further facing difficulties, the 3rd Division and several US regiments strayed into a nearby wheat field where they encountered heavy machine gun fire - shredding the units as hundreds were gunned down.

Ultimately the battle in the eyes of romantic historians, though perhaps not military historians, would be decided by First Sergeant Daniel Daly, who during the attack stood up and screamed “come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” before being almost immediately killed by a German sniper. While the battle was ultimately a very minor success, putting pressure on the German southern wing of their salient towards Paris, the losses for the US proved staggering for very little gain - a pyrrhic victory at best.

With nearly two and a half thousand killed and nearly ten thousand wounded, the battle stunned the American public. Ultimately though, it stunned the French public more who now saw that despite American eagerness, there even the most motivated American attacks could achieve little in the immediate term - having failed to even fully secure the Bellau woods. US Marines Commanding Officer Major Thomas Hawkin would best sum up the battle writing to his wife, saying “The Regiment has carried itself with undying glory, but the price was heavy”.
 
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I really like the look of this scenario; most German victory scenarios have the Americans just not join, but I'm really interested to see the impact on the US of American soldiers meeting the Germans in a fair fight and losing.
 
I really like the look of this scenario; most German victory scenarios have the Americans just not join, but I'm really interested to see the impact on the US of American soldiers meeting the Germans in a fair fight and losing.
One of the things I honestly find most interesting about the great war is that the US joining did very much turn the tide, but people often dont realise - while the US was vital for an allied victory, it took a really long time to actually come into the picture. You often see stats about how there were approx 800,000 Americans in France by June 1918, however the actual number of them who were combat ready was a far smaller number.

How that impacts a soldier; to be transported across the world to Europe (probably for the first time they ever left the country), training for months in the art of war and then being sent home after brave but unsuccessful effort, is certainly an interesting scenario.
 
Just started and caught up today. A very good read and I shall enjoy following it.
A small comment. In the earlier casualty summaries I think the numbers killed and wounded made sense, but it also seems that the way the battles were fought, the French and British would have considerable numbers of casualties which were not counted.
 
Just started and caught up today. A very good read and I shall enjoy following it.
A small comment. In the earlier casualty summaries I think the numbers killed and wounded made sense, but it also seems that the way the battles were fought, the French and British would have considerable numbers of casualties which were not counted.
Thanks for making note of that. I will say, while I do amend casualty numbers somewhat - in order to save time and to avoid getting too bogged down in the details I tend to avoid spending too much time on things like casualties.

As such I'd consider any casualties approximate, rather than accurate from here on. As mentioned in the OP, while it's not 'perfect', I'd rather give a rough estimate and move on etc.
 
The TL so far is amazing! But, I hope this TL (like many other TL's I seen) doesn't fall ill to a sickness call “Boring post-war”. On a more serious note, what I mean is that a lot of CP victory TL's has an interesting WW1 and might have an interesting immediate set of events after WW1, but doesn't have much to back it up in a post-war world, hell, even if WW2 happens it's usually the Franco-Prussian War 2.0.
 
The TL so far is amazing! But, I hope this TL (like many other TL's I seen) doesn't fall ill to a sickness call “Boring post-war”. On a more serious note, what I mean is that a lot of CP victory TL's has an interesting WW1 and might have an interesting immediate set of events after WW1, but doesn't have much to back it up in a post-war world, hell, even if WW2 happens it's usually the Franco-Prussian War 2.0.
Personally, as a reader, I would take plausibility over non-stop action any time in the post 1900 forum. And tbh, we have a rich history of timelines with intriguing post-war political and economic developments, and some of them are even CP victory timelines (like A Day In July; yes, I collaborated with it, but I only did so because I was already in love with the product, so :p). I'm more than confident that TheReformer will be able to execute whatever story they wish to tell.
 
Personally, as a reader, I would take plausibility over non-stop action any time in the post 1900 forum. And tbh, we have a rich history of timelines with intriguing post-war political and economic developments, and some of them are even CP victory timelines (like A Day In July; yes, I collaborated with it, but I only did so because I was already in love with the product, so :p). I'm more than confident that TheReformer will be able to execute whatever story they wish to tell.
The problem is you can lose the forest through the trees if you try to calculate the ‘realistic’ details on everything. Casualties are a ballpark and that is fine.
 
The problem is you can lose the forest through the trees if you try to calculate the ‘realistic’ details on everything. Casualties are a ballpark and that is fine.
Er, you misunderstand me. I wasn't talking about casualties (have no problem with that approach), I was responding to Spamavalanche on the concept of "boring postwar".
 
The TL so far is amazing! But, I hope this TL (like many other TL's I seen) doesn't fall ill to a sickness call “Boring post-war”. On a more serious note, what I mean is that a lot of CP victory TL's has an interesting WW1 and might have an interesting immediate set of events after WW1, but doesn't have much to back it up in a post-war world, hell, even if WW2 happens it's usually the Franco-Prussian War 2.0.
Thanks! I'd reassure you but I feel that would be tooting one's trumpet a little too much. So I'll let @Godwin do it given he knows some of my plans - dramatic enough post war for you Godwin? :p
 
I have been thoroughly enjoying it so far and have found no problems with your reasoning except in the latest installment you have American casualties at Belleau Wood is 50-60% greater than OTL while the details you give implies that the battle progressed very similar to OTL.
 
I have been thoroughly enjoying it so far and have found no problems with your reasoning except in the latest installment you have American casualties at Belleau Wood is 50-60% greater than OTL while the details you give implies that the battle progressed very similar to OTL.
Good that you mentioned that, I actually had intended for it to go worse initially and wrote it up as such, but amended later and neglected to change the casualties. Shall edit - cheers
 
Are we going to get maybe another naval battle between Germany and Britain? Or how the war is going to change/influence german naval doctrine. Last but not least does the Red Baron still dies?
 
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