Map Case

“American Armies and Battlefields in Europe,” first published by the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1938, is a great starting point for obtaining maps that explain the role the USA played in the Meuse-Argonne and other regions of WW1.  This 600+ page book contains scores of maps.  The print versions (1938 and a 1992 re-print) have three large color fold-out maps showing the major American Offensives (Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel and Aisne-Marne) in good detail.  Readers can easily find downloads of this book on-line.  They can also order print-on-demand copies or purchase originals of the book at websites such as https://www.abebooks.com/.  The Webmaster still prefers the 1938 hard copy because of the quality of the paper and because of the three fold-out maps.

 

Readers looking for greater detail on a specific division’s activity should look at the “Summary of Operations” for each division that was published by the ABMC in 1944.  Hardcopies are chocolate-brown in color and contain large fold-out maps detailing that division’s efforts during the war.  Readers can find high-quality .pdf versions of the maps as well as electronic versions of the text at this University of Texas at Austin link:  https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/ww1/.  Original books can also be purchased at websites such as https://www.abebooks.com/.  The maps have been prepared in 1:20,000 scale, making them very useful for battlefield visitors, but just slightly off scale to today’s French 1:25,000 scale IGN maps.

 

Divisional and regimental histories are also good sources for maps.

 

Finally, hard-core researchers with the time and resources should consider looking at the map collections held by the National Archives in College Park, MD.  The finding guides below (courtesy of NARA) give an idea of the range of NARA’s WW1 AEF map collection.

RG 120 PI 165 Carto Records of the Am. Expeditionary Forces

RG 120 Records NOT in PI 165

RG 92 – Maps of Temporary American Grave Sites Overseas

Tip:  Researchers should talk to the Webmaster or other NARA researchers for tips before undertaking this adventure. 

 

France’s Institut Geographique National, http://www.ign.fr/, publishes a series of 1:25,000 scale Série Bleue maps that are essential for walking and exploring the battlefields today.  The IGN maps can be purchased from the somewhat cumbersome French website or from retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Gone are the days when one could go to a “Maison de la Presse” in rural France and expect to find copies there.

Tip:  Readers should carefully compare today’s IGN maps with the Summary of Operations maps, as they often differ.  For example, roads have been changed, towns have been re-built a hundred or more meters away from their original location, and the French forestation of Zone Rouge areas has changed the topography in some cases.

The simple photo below shows the name and numbers of the relevant IGN maps for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive:

 

 

Michelin publishes 1:200,000 scale regional maps that are helpful for driving.  Again, these can be ordered from retailers such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  However, with the advent of smart-phones and in-car sat-nav systems, they are less and less useful.

 

 

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