College of Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)
First World War, American Expeditionary Force, General Pershing, Woodrow Wilson, Doughboy
Comstock, Kasey James, "With Sand in Their Pockets: Lessons of the American Expeditionary Force’s Mobilization for the First World War" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4586.
When the Eleventh hour rang on November 11th, 1918, the United States Expeditionary Force, now the United States Army was no longer a mere constabulary organization. In fact, it had grown from just over 200,000 total soldiers to a staggering 4.2-million-man army. However, the growth of the army was not easy, through political and organizational in-fighting the army grew painfully. The inability of the United States government, especially its commander-in-chief, to implement reform measures ensured, and ultimately sealed the fate of thousands of American dead Doughboys in France. Additionally, the Army War College, General Staff, and War Department deliberately curtailed the progression of the army by virtually dismissing foreign reports of the war and discounting them as facts. The overall consolidation of facts points to several lackluster and implausible steps both in the military and political departments of the United States as to why the army had such growing difficulties. There was no reason for the most booming economy in the world to have the 17th smallest army to back up a weak and impulsive foreign policy. Within this project I address the raising, fielding, and overall effectiveness of the American Expeditionary Force from conception to victory. The paper embraces a top-down view from the political and military, both encompassing its leaders, President Woodrow Wilson, and his staff, as well as General John Pershing with his General Staff. While these men are magnanimous in the world of historical fact, the Doughboy’s story is also told to get a better understanding of what these extraordinary men did for their country.