The 4th Marine Brigade at Belleau Wood and Soissons

History and Battlefield Guide

J. Michael Miller
Foreword by Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills, USMC (Ret.)

The battles of Belleau Wood and Soissons in June and July of 1918 marked a turning point in World War I and in the stature of the US Marine Corps, whose fighting proved so critical in repelling the Germans that the French would later rename Belleau “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.” In this book J. Michael Miller, a historian of the Marine Corps and veteran chronicler of battle, takes us to the battlefields of Belleau Wood and Soissons, immersing us in the experience of a single brigade of marines at the forefront of the fighting. Through a close-up look at the doughboys singular impact on Allied victory in 1918, his work illuminates Americas bloody sacrifice during World War I.

The 4th Marine Brigade at Belleau Wood and Soissons for the first time treats these two battles as one campaign and demonstrates why it is impossible to fully understand one without the other. Miller outlines the company and platoon levels of combat throughout the campaign, establishing a basic tactical understanding of the fighting; he also draws on letters, diaries, memoirs, and interviews to create a vivid and personal reconstruction of the battles. His use of French and German sources, also a first, adds unprecedented insights to this boots-on-the-ground account. The book includes detailed mapping of both battlefields, with a thirty-six-stop guide linking the text with the actual terrain. For each of these stops Miller gives GPS coordinates to provide a virtual tour of the sites he discusses.

“An excellent resource for anyone desiring a full understanding of these two battles, which are part of the same campaign.

—U.S. Military History Review

“A first rate military history of the 4th Marine Brigade at war in 1918, with particular focus on the bitter battles at Belleau Wood and Soissons.

—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
See all reviews...

With its strategic overview and ground-level perspective, Miller’s work suggests a new interpretation and offers a new experience of an iconic moment in American military history—and in the story of the Marine Corps.

About the Author

J. Michael Miller is the former lead historian of the Marine Corps History Division at Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia. From 2005 to 2013 he was director of the Marine Corps Archives. His books include From Shanghai to Corregidor: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines.