July 6, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“March 1919 should start the real fighting when the U.S. is equipped. We will have 6 million men and with our Allies we will make the big drive that will end the war and Imperialism forever.
Got up at 5 a.m. took a swim. Signed 6 mo. pay slip.”
Fortunately for everyone on both sides of the war, Robert didn’t realize how close to the end they actually were. By November, the U.S. would have mobilized 4.7 million Americans, although only slightly more than 2 million had arrived in France by the time the Armistice was signed.
Robert wasn’t alone in thinking that the war would continue well into 1919, however. As late as the winter of 1917-1918, American military leaders were planning to have only one million men in France by the end of 1918, with the big push to end the war during 1919. Considering how small the army was throughout 1917, and the challenges involved in raising and equipping even an army as small as one million, it’s no wonder that 1919 seemed like the most likely timeline. This chart shows how long it look the British (the top line) and the Americans (the bottom line) to reach a level of 2 million men in combat.
This ridiculously long post from May is worth reading to learn more about the absolutely crazy negotiations and manipulations that went on between the U.S., British and French. You can really see how the European allies saw the Americans as a vital piece of their hopes for victory, but also as a bunch of kids who had no idea what to do on the world stage.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.