Through War Torn Europe: An official trip after WWI told in the words of James Gordon Steese

In the summer of 1919, the author was ordered overseas on a special mission, and was authorized to visit the various battle front, occupied areas, ports, naval bases, and such other points of historical, military, or engineering interest, as the very limited time available might permit.

The following letters were written during this trip, and, except for the elimination of some purely personal items, they are published just as written. Many of them were written at odd moments under great difficulties and present many crudities of style. It was felt, however, that to edit them would result in spoiling their freshness, would destroy the personal note running through them and thereby would take away whatever charm it is hoped they may be found to possess.

Maps have been prepared for the convenience of any readers who may wish to follow the itinerary more in detail. It has been impossible to reproduce more than a very small number of the hundreds of miscellaneous photographs available. Naturally, no attempt has been made to describe military operations in detail, nor to present critical summaries of the conditions found in the various countries visited. It is hoped that the random impressions and descriptions of an 11,000 mile journey through twelve countries of Europe made in exactly two months may be of some interest to those whose attention has been drawn to that part of the world by the events of the past few years.

The author was not one of those lucky members of the Regular Army who secured overseas’ service during the war. He was on duty at West Point when war was declared. After organizing the first officers’ Training Camp at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was ordered to the Engineer Officers’ Training Camp at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, upon the completion of which he was assigned to the 7th U.S. Engineers. Shortly before his regiment sailed for France, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he has served for a year as Assistant Chief of Engineers, and since September, 1918, as a member of the General Staff, and Chief of the Promotions and Assignments Section.

Army & Navy Club,
Washington, D.C.
March 1st, 1920.
End Notes and Bibliography