The author (left) and Lieutenant John D. Coughlin at their dressing station in Septsarges during the Meuse-Argonne campaign (see chapter 9).
The situation in America today (1940) is so closely analogous to the conditions that existed in the United States in 1917 that a brief restatement of the first World War seems particularly opportune at this time.
The following chapters, based on a diary kept by the author during the World War, do not pretend to be a thorough charting of either the strategic maneuvers of the last great war, or of the nationalistic currents which swept this country into that struggle. They merely record one man's experience in one branch of the United States Army, and his reactions to what he actually saw.
There is a small group of Americans which is actively urging America to enter the second World War. This group is composed of the same extremists who in 1917 were determined that America should make the "world safe for democracy." Today the terms are different. The objective is the same. The extremist of today wishes to "stamp out the curse of totalitarian despotism" or he wishes to "establish a world-wide Popular Front of democratic nations." A "United States of the World" has been proposed. All the casuistries of ingenious phrase-making have been called into play in the effort to influence America's entry into the war now being waged thousands of miles from our shores.
It is difficult to imagine a cause that would justify a repetition of the horror and malign destruction that took place during the last World War. Certainly, there no longer exists any justification for my own country's waging an offensive against any nation of the Old World. We have a covenant to defend our own country; we have not even the semblance of an excuse for venturing beyond that. I am confident that I would never send my own son forth to the Old World into such primeval carnage and useless slaughter as are raging there at this moment of writing. Under the circumstances which surrounded me in 1917 and 1918, I am not sorry that I went to France. If it could be argued that our entry into the war at that time had to occur, I would not have missed it for anything in the world.
The following chapters may serve to recall some of the frenzied excitement and anxiety of the days of 1917 and 1918 in America; they may also perhaps uncover in some measure the difficulties with which our soldiers fought on foreign soil and the slight esteem and gratitude which the two major powers of the Allies entertained toward America during and after the war. What happened in those years may very well happen once again in 1940. If these chapters will aid in any degree in the prevention of America's involvement in another horrible war, it will have been well worth while to write them.
HARRY L. SMITH, M. D.
A Note by the Author
This book was set entirely by hand (with the exception of tabular material) by Mr. John Dietz, of Stewartville, Minnesota, and it was printed by hand on a job press.
Type employed in the text is the Centaur Roman of the distinguished American designer, Mr. Bruce Rogers, 12 point, leaded 2 points. The cursive face to match is the Arrighi Italic of the celebrated -English typographer, the late Frederic Warde. It is used in 12 point size in the text, and in 10 point size in legends. Title page and chapter headings are set in varying sizes of Offenbach Medium majuscules, designed in 1930 by the late Rudolf Koch, and imported to America from the type foundry of Klingspor Brothers at Offenbach-am-Main before the outbreak of World War II.
Paper on which this work is printed is 70-pound Tweed Text book stock. The volume was designed by James Eckman,