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General John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, called the Battle of Belleau Wood: "The biggest battle since Appomattox and the most considerable engagement American troops had ever had with a foreign enemy.”
In June of 1918, as Russia had withdrawn from World War I, Germany relocated thousands of soldiers to France and launched a massive offensive to end the war. But as the German Army breached the Western Front and attempted to advance to Paris, it faced fierce resistance from Allied forces.
A robust contingent of thousands of American soldiers and Marines arrived to fight the weakened Germans in the Belleau Wood preserve area, and the first large-scale battle fought by US forces during World War I ensued.
Fighting mainly in the dark with fixed bayonets, poison gas, and hand-to-hand combat amidst harsh wood terrains and overgrown wheat fields, the Marines engaged in savage combat that cemented their place in history as some of the fiercest of warriors.
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