The Battle of Belleau Wood

Edgar Albert Guest

IT was thick with Prussian troopers, it was foul with German guns;
Every tree that cast a shadow was a sheltering place for Huns.
Death was guarding every roadway, death was watching every field,
And behind each rise of terrain was a rapid-fire concealed
But Uncle Sam's Marines had orders: 'Drive the Boche from where they're hid.
For the honor of Old Glory, take the woods!' and so they did.

I fancy none will tell it as the story should be told-
None will ever do full justice to those Yankee troopers bold.
How they crawled upon their stomachs through the fields of golden wheat
With the bullets spitting at them in that awful battle heat.
It's a tale too big for writing; it's beyond the voice or pen,
But it glows among the splendor of the bravest deeds of men.

It's recorded as a battle, but I fancy it will live,
As the brightest gem of courage human struggles have to give.
Inch by inch, they crawled to victory toward the flaming mounts of guns;
Inch by inch, they crawled to grapple with the barricaded Huns
On through fields that death was sweeping with a murderous fire, they went
Till the Teuton line was vanquished and the German strength was spent.

Ebbed and flowed the tides of battle as they've seldom done before;
Slowly, surely, moved the Yankees against all the odds of war.
For the honor of the fallen, for the glory of the dead,
The living line of courage kept the faith and moved ahead.
'They'd been ordered not to falter, and when night came on they stood
With Old Glory proudly flying o'er the trees of Belleau Wood.


The Battle of Belleau Wood in Picardy, France was fought for almost the entire month of June 1918. It was one the US Army's bloodiest battles of the First World War.

The Germans attacked at the beginning of June and it took weeks of savage fighting before the US Marines finally drove them back.


Main Location:

Battle of Belleau Wood, Picardy, Aisne, France

US Marines in Belleau Wood, subject of the poem by Edgar Guest