Wisconsin’s “Gold Star List” had this entry, which was the first piece I found:
” Krueger, Arthur W. 27, m, Wausau; pvt 9inf; Argonne; kia Nov 4, ’18”
The battle of the Meuse-Argonne in France where my great-grandfather Oscar Krueger fought and where his brother Arthur Krueger died was called “the last battle of the war”. Arthur died on November 4th, 1918, and the allies agreed to take up negotiations for a truce the next day on November 5th. The last man killed in the war actually died on November 11th as the cease-fire didn’t happen until 11am on November 11th. “The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”, so Arthur died one week before peace was established. The Meuse-Argonne has been called the “bloodiest single battle in US history”. It had the largest number of U.S. casualties in a single battle. 117,000 Americans, 70,000 French and 90-120,000 Germans were wounded or killed.
The 9th infantry regiment was part of the 3rd brigade, 2nd division. I’m not sure yet which battalion Arthur or Oscar were assigned to. I only know that, according to family legend, they were fighting alongside each other.
The timeline for the final battle is as follows:
1 November, 1918: The 3rd brigade was to be used as Division Reserve for the attack to commmence on November 1st. They were ordered to follow the 6th Marines about 1 km behind them.
2 November, 1918: At about 1:00pm the 9th Infantry was ordered to relieve the 5th Marines. As they started forward to do this, the orders were changed and they were directed to pass the Marines and advance to the Nouart-Fosse line during the night of 2-3 November. They arrived just short of this line about midnight.
3 November, 1918: At 5:00am they continued their advance to the jump-off point at the Nouart-Fosse line, and the attack began at 6:00am. The objective was a ridge southeast of the town of Vaux-en-Dieulet, which was reached without serious resistance by 8:30am. Strong German resistance was encountered shortly thereafter along the southern edge of the “Bois de Belval”, a forest to the north. The 2nd division was ordered to advance that afternoon with the goal of uprooting the German troops in the woods, traversing the forest from south-to-north during the night, and taking up a position near the town of Beaumont (Beaumont-en-Argonne).
They were able to accomplish this as ordered. By late afternoon they had taken the position occupied by the enemy on the southern edge of the Bois de Beval (Beval Woods), and then traversed the forest during the night. The passage was made on a single road, sweeping the enemy ahead of them with machine guns. They travelled through the woods in columns two-by-two, carrying their heavy packs as the rain fell. The crude road quickly turned to mud which covered the men and equipment in the dark. Several German-speaking American soldiers were positioned in the advance guard. They were able to speak with German detachments that were encountered, and in many cases negotiated their surrender without resistance. In other instances, sleeping Germans were captured as they dozed over their machine guns. Still others needed to be taken out by force using small patrols of American soldiers.
In one instance the Americans emerged into a clearing near the Ferme La Forge and surprised a group of German troops assembling there in anticpation of the American advance which was expected the next day. 60 or 70 Germans were captured without any American casualties. They passed through the Bois de Beval, the Bois de Four and the Bois du Pont Gerache, traveling a distance of about 5 miles in total. The American forces broke through the forest’s north edge about 10:45pm and could see the lights of “La Ferme Tuilerie”. The farmhouse was surrounded and the German officers occupying it were captured. Defenses were put into place around the farmhouse to hold it.
By the morning of 4 November they had occupied the heights north of La Tuilerie Ferme, six kilometers behind the main enemy line. The position was considered strong. The headquarters of the 9th Infantry was set up at “Ferme La Forge”. The 3rd batallion set up an outpost line about 100 yards north of the farmhouse. The 2nd batallion set up at the rear of the 3rd just south of the farm. The 1st batallion set up 500 yeards to the rear of the 2nd. Once these positions had been established, the men were finally treated to a hot meal and some rest. The men were in a good mood because they had full stomachs and a relatively safe position. It was a break from the tension of the past several days, and they took advantage of it to grab a few precious hours of sleep. Arthur spent his last night sleeping under the stars of the French sky.
4 November, 1918: Starting at about 9:30am, the 2nd and 3rd batallion combined to try to gain the high ground overlooking the town of Beaumont-en-Argonne. It was almost certainly during this attack that Arthur was killed somewhere between the edge of the woods near the Ferme La Forge and the town of Beaumont-en-Argonne. The 9th was able to take the ground and it occupied it for the remainder of the 4th and during the 5th of November.
Another account of these days was given by Capt. Captain C. Dunbeck of the 2nd batallion, 5th Regiment:
On the night of October 31st, 1918, you moved up to your jumping off position. On November 1st, you made an attack and advance. During that day you advanced about 11 kilometers, bivouacked in shell holes. On November 3rd, you jumped off on a line ordered at daylight, and fought all day. That night although physically worn out, and without food, you took advantage of the darkness and traveling on your nerve alone, and the morale of the 2nd Battalion, you assisted the 9th Infantry in pushing the enemy back 8 kilometers through Belval Woods, and by daylight you were firmly in position on the heights in the North end of the woods. This position you held notwithstanding the extremely heavy fire of the enemy all concentrated upon you until other troops began to arrive that day, and shared for the remainder of the day November 4th, you had a chance to get very little rest, for again we moved to a new position along the Meuse River near Pouilly. From that time on up until the night we crossed the river, you were constantly face to face with the enemy. During all this time it was your individual spirit and morale of the 2nd Battalion that kept you going.
6 November, 1918: A 2:00am march brought the 9th infantry through Beaumont-en-Argonne where they rendezvoused with additional troops near Beaumont-Létanne Hill 241. They continued about 4km until they found themselves on the west bank of the Meuse river just northeast of Beaumont-en-Argonne near the town of Létanne.
7 November, 1918: The 2nd division was ordered to hold the line of the Meuse from Létanne to the town of Mouzon, a line about 6 miles long. They began to search for places to cross the river and also occupied the towns of Villemontry and Le Fanbourg. They spent the next day occupying these positions and gathering materials to build a bridge over the Meuse.
9 November, 1918: The 9th Infantry held position while the 4th Brigade forced a crossing of the Meuse.
10 November, 1918: Two companies of the 9th helped the engineers contstruct two bridges across the Meuse river just east of La Ferme Sartelle. By the early morning hours they had taken up a position along the road on the east bank of the river supporting Marines near the town of Moulins-St-Hubert, directly across the river from Villemontry.
11 November, 1918: At 11:00am a cease-fire was declared and the war was over. I can only imagine the mixed feelings Oscar must have felt knowing that the war was over for him, but that he would be going home without his brother.