Back Ashby Williams, “I Am Not Dead”

Ashby Williams (1874–1944)
From World War I and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It

Machine gunners of the 80th “Blue Ridge” Division on the battlefield. (National Archives)

This month marks the 100th anniversary of what is, by far, the largest and bloodiest battle in American history.

More than 26,000 Americans died during this 47-day offensive—just under half of the nation’s combat deaths during World War I. (More troops actually died from the global influenza epidemic in 1918 than from fighting.) The battle led to the creation of the 130-acre Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, the largest American military cemetery in Europe, the final resting place of more than 14,000 U.S. troops.

A year later, after he returned to the States, Major Ashby Williams, one of the officers who escaped death (and barely did so) wrote up a description of his experiences. In our Story of the Week selection, he recalls his horror when a shell struck the rifle pit in which he crouched with another officer.

Read “I Am Not Dead” by Ashby Williams

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