A vivid, thrilling, and impeccably researched account of America’s bloodiest battle ever—World War I’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive—and the shocking American cover-up at its heart.
The year is 1918. German engineers have fortified Montfaucon, an elevated fortress in northern France, with bunkers, tunnels, and a top-secret observatory capable of directing artillery shells across the battlefield. Following a number of unsuccessful attacks, the French have deemed Montfaucon impregnable. Capturing it is the key to success for General John J. Pershing’s 1.2 million troops and his plan to end the war. But a betrayal of Americans by Americans results in a bloody debacle. In his masterful Betrayal at Little Gibraltar, William Walker tells the full story for the first time.
After a delay in the assault on Montfaucon, thousands of Americans lost their lives while the Germans defended their position without mercy. Years of archival research show the actual cause of the delay was a senior American officer, Major General Robert E. Lee Bullard, who disobeyed orders to assist in the direct assault on Montfaucon. The result was the unnecessary slaughter of American doughboys during the assault. Although several officers learned of the circumstances, Pershing protected Bullard—an old friend and fellow West Point graduate—by covering up the story. The true and full account of the battle that cost 122,000 American casualties was almost lost to time.
A "military history for all libraries" (Library Journal), Betrayal at Little Gibraltar tells of the soldiers who fought to capture the giant fortress and push the American advance. Using unpublished first-person accounts—and featuring photographs, documents, and maps—Walker describes the horrors of combat, the sacrifices of the doughboys, and the determined efforts of two participants to solve the mystery of Montfaucon. This is compelling history, important to be told, an "as valuable account as Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August" (Virginian-Pilot).
An educator and writer with a lifelong fascination for military history, William Walker grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, exploring the Civil War forts surrounding the city. After a forty-year career in college teaching and administration, he returned to his first love of military history to investigate a pivotal incident in America’s largest and bloodiest battle, World War I’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Betrayal at Little Gibraltar is his first book.
"How strange that the Meuse-Argonne campaign in the last weeks of World War I is not better remembered: to this day it remains the largest and costliest battle American troops ever fought. William Walker's Betrayal at Little Gibraltar should help dispel this national amnesia, for he has given us both a propulsive, closely observed war narrative and an engrossing murder mystery. The victims are thousands of needlessly killed American soldiers, the perpetrator a vain, glory-hungry general whose motives Walker artfully uncovers in a tale of low selfishness and high courage that casts fresh light on the timeless snares of military command while righting a tremendous century-old wrong." —Richard Snow, author of A Measureless Peril and I Invented the Modern Age
"William Walker's Betrayal at Little Gibraltar provides evidence of a deliberate misinterpretation of orders and of an army cover-up afterward. The cast of characters, from men like Pershing, Bullard, and Kuhn to common soldiers like novelist James A. Cain and Harry Parkin, is compelling. The tale of conspiracy and cover-up, with consequent human suffering on a large scale, makes for an exciting read." —Edward G. Lengel, author of To Conquer Hell, Thunder and Flames, and General George Washington: A Military Life
"Walker’s reconstruction of the details of the battle is nicely balanced with the stories of individual participants....A military history for all libraries." —Library Journal
"Fascinating...a detailed, fact-filled history....For the military professional or civilian history buff, this book is an essential addition to a credible collection. Its readability is superb; maps and photos are well-chosen and expertly placed, and arcane terminology is patiently explained....As invaluable an account as Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" and similar seminal works, and certainly a more fast-paced, less intimidating read." —Virginian-Pilot
“Well-written, impeccably researched, and lavishly illustrated…gripping…compelling…[a] masterful account….Betrayal at Little Gibraltar goes far to right an almost-forgotten wrong that took place almost 100 years ago.” —Knoxville News Sentinel
"This is one of the best new AEF books I've read. I highly recommend it." —Peter Belmonte, Roads to the Great War: A Journal of World War I