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SSG Jerry Dennis
Beightler, Gordon, Pvt.
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Home Town Marysville, OH
Last Address General Delivery Marysville, Ohio
Casualty Date Jun 04, 1923
Cause Not Specified
Reason Not Specified
Location Not Specified
Conflict World War I
Location of Interment Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Military Service Number Not Specified
World War I/Aisne Campaign/World War I/The Battle of Cantigny
May / 1918
May / 1918
Description The Battle of Cantigny, fought May 28th 1918 was the first major American battle and offensive of World War I. The U.S. 1st Division, the most experienced of the five American divisions then in France and in reserve for the French Army near the village of Cantigny, was selected for the attack. The objective of the attack was both to reduce a small salient made by the German Army in the front lines but also to instill confidence among the French and British allies in the ability of the inexperienced American Expeditionary Force (AEF).
Capture of Cantigny
At 06:45 [H Hour], 28 May 1918, American Soldiers of the 28th Infantry Regiment left their jump-off trenches following an hour-long artillery preparation. Part of the preparation was counter-battery fire directed at German artillery positions. A rolling barrage, advancing 100 meters every two minutes, was calculated to give the attacking troops time to keep up with it.
The 28th Infantry Regiment (Colonel Hansen Ely, commanding) plus two companies of the 18th Infantry, three machine-gun companies and a company of engineers (3,564 men), captured Cantigny from the German Eighteenth Army. The village was situated on high ground surrounded by woods, making it an ideal observation post for German artillery.
Because the Americans did not have them in sufficient quantity, the French provided air cover, 368 heavy artillery pieces, trench mortars, tanks, and flamethrowers. The French Schneider tanks were from the French 5th Tank battalion. Their primary purpose was to eliminate German machine gun positions. With this massive support, and advancing on schedule behind the creeping artillery barrage, the 28th Infantry took the village in 30 minutes. It then continued on to its final objective roughly a half kilometer beyond the village.
Defense against German counterattacks
The first German counterattack, a small attack at 08:30 against the extreme right of the new American position, was easily repulsed, but German artillery bombarded the 28th Infantry for most of the day. At 17:10 the first large-scale counterattack took place, and a company of the 1st Battalion of the 26th Infantry commanded by Major Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was used to reinforce a weak spot in the American line. Another German counterattack at 18:40 was also repulsed by a combination of artillery and Infantry defensive fire. A series of counterattacks over the next two days were also defeated by both American regiments, and the position held.
The Americans reduced the salient and expanded their front by approximately a mile. A minor success, its significance was overshadowed by the battle underway along the Aisne. The U.S. forces held their position with the loss of 1,603 casualties including over 300 killed in action; they captured 250 German prisoners. Matthew B. Juan, a Native American war hero, was killed during this battle.
The American success at Cantigny assured the French that American divisions could be entrusted in the line against the German offensive to take Paris. The victory at Cantigny was followed by attacks at Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood in the first half of June.