Through War Torn Europe: An official trip after WWI told in the words of James Gordon Steese
Number Twenty-Seven
Grand Hotel, Nancy,
Monday, September 15th, 1919.
After a look around Luxembourg, we headed south between the Briey iron district and the Sarre Valley coal fields, through Thionville to Metz. Metz is a most interesting old entrenched camp. It was here that Marshall Bazaine surrendered his enormous army to the Prussians after the disaster at Sedan. Since then the city has been German.

In the square before the Cathedral, the Kaiser had a saintly statue of himself constructed. Since the Armistice, the people have put chains on the hands and this sign "sic transit gloria mundi". Signs in the stores state that French will be spoken as much as possible. Most of the children speak German. They besieged us for chewing gum.

 Some of the buildings were damaged by air raids and long range artillery. In addition to the old fortifications, the Germans had many modern works constructed. After having read and studied military history and especially the actual and possible operations in the territory dependent upon the fortresses of Metz and Strassbourg and the Verdun-Toul and Epinal-Belfort defensive curtains, it was most inspiring to be actually on the ground and to speculate over the recent possibility that Metz would be reduced by an American Army.

Then we drove on to Pont-a-Mousson for lunch in the devastated district. Considering that it was in No Manís Land for so long, a surprisingly large part of the town still remains intact.

The afternoon was spent in zigzagging around through the St. Mihiel Sector, then on to Toul, where we found no "essence". It took us about an hour of being sent around from one place to another before we succeeded in definitely establishing the fact that there was no depot d'essence there. We came over here on our last five gallons. After a great deal of difficulty, we got 100 litres which will get us back across devastated France again.

Thiaucourt was an important German railhead for the supplying of the troops on the south face of the St. Mihiel salient and afterwards the railhead of the 92nd Division of our 3rd Army. It was one of the vital spots in the salient. On the left of the road leaving Thiaucourt there is a large American cemetery of those killed in the St. Mihiel fight.

Vigneulles was in the centre of the salient and was the most important German railhead in the area. It was a road centre and stored here were large quantities of supplies of all kinds.

From the point of the hill at Hattonchatel, a wonderful view can be had of the entire southern part of the salient. This point is the most suitable in the salient from which one can make a study of the operations from maps and other information. Due to the thick fog, however, we were able to see very little. The Treaty between the French and Germans in 1814 stated that this place could not be fortified for a period of 100 years.

At Fresnes-en-Woevre there was much very elaborate concrete construction.

Nancy is a large town, and, during the War, was one of the popular and expensive resorts. We had music with our dinner at the hotel and then found a big cafe with an orchestra whose reportoire consists of 1891 pieces; at least that many titles were listed in the program. They were playing No. 563 when we left.

The morning drive down through Luxembourg was beautiful. We were very sorry not to get into the northern corner of the Grand Duchy which is said to be much more picturesque.

The battlefield was particularly interesting on account of the American operations. Physically there was nothing new. Much of the country is again under cultivation and the general appearance was much less desolate than around Verdun.

End Notes and Bibliography