And They Thought We Wouldn't Fight - 1918

Front Cover, And They Thought We Wouldn't Fight, by Floyd Gibbons, 1918.

Front Cover, And They Thought We Wouldn't Fight, by Floyd Gibbons, 1918. GGA Image ID # 17def522e3

Floyd Gibbons, And They Thought We Wouldn't Fight,  © 1918, George H. Doran Company, New York, Hardcover, 410 Pages.  15 Illustrations from Photographs.

Excerpts Taken from Volume Describe Tense Hours in Marine Battles

When the history of this war is written there will be few historians better qualified to write of the work of the American Expeditionary Forces in France than Floyd Gibbons, who, as war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, spent a year on the western front. For Mr. Gibbons can write with the knowledge and authenticity of one who has actually been in the thick of the fighting. He found himself early in June with the Fifth Regiment of Marines when they were ordered to make their charge on Helleau Wood and Chateau-Thierrv. He was wounded in that engagement and for the heroism he displayed there he has been awarded the Croix de Guerre.

In Mr. Gibbons’ new book, “And They Thought We Wouldn’t Fight,” now being published by the George H. Doran Company, he covers the activities of the Marine Corps in those memorable battles. The following high lights from his account are reprinted by permission of Bell Syndicate, Inc.:

“The Germans, unaware that a change had taken place in the personnel that faced them, reeled back demoralized and unable to. understand how such a sudden show of resistance had been prevented by the weakened French troops which they had been driving before them for a week. The enemy’s advance had been made openly and confidently in the mistaken flush of victory. Their triumphant advances of the previous week had more than supported the statements of the German officers, who had told their men that they were on the road to Paris—the end of the war and peace. It was in this mood of victory that the enemy encountered the Marines’ stone wall and reeled hack in surprise.


“In such fashion did the Marines ko through the Bois de Belleau. Their losses were heavy, but they did the work. The sacrifice was necessary. Paris was in danger. The Marines constituted the thin line between the enemy and Paris. The Marines not only held that line—they pushed it forward.

“The fighting was terrific. In one battalion alone the casualties numbered sixty-four per cent officers and sixty-four per cent men. Several companies came out of the fighting under command of their first sergeants, all of the officers having been killed or wounded.
“I witnessed some of that fighting. I was with the Marines at the opening of the battle. I never saw men charge to their death with finer spirit.”

“Since the days I read Hugo’s chapters on the Battle of Waterloo in ‘Les Miserables," I always considered as an ideal of fighting capacity and the military spirit of sacrifice the old sergeant of Napoleon’s Old Guard. Hugo made me vividly see that old sergeant standing on a field with a meagre remnant of the Old Guard gathered around him. Unable to resist further, but unwilling to accept surrender, he and his followers faced the British cannon. The British, respecting this admirable demonstration of courage, ceased firing and called out to them, ‘Brave Frenchmen, surrender!”

“The old sergeant, who was about to die, refused to accept this offer of his life from the enemy. Into the very muzzles of the British cannon the sergeant hurled back the offer of his life with one word. That word was the vilest epithet in the French language. The cannons roared and the old sergeant and his survivors died with the word on their lips. Hugo wisely devoted an entire chapter to that single word.


“But I have a new ideal today. I found it in the Bois de Belleau. A small platoon line of Marines lay on their faces and bellies under the tree at the edge of a wheat field. Two hundred yards across that flat field the enemy was located in trees. I peered into the trees but could see nothing, yet I knew that every leaf in the foliage screened scores of German machine guns that swept the field with lead. The bullets nipped the tops of the young wheat and ripped the bark from the trunks of the trees three feet from the ground on which the Marines lay. The minute for the Marine advance was approaching. An old gunners sergeant commanded the platoon in the absence of the lieutenant, who had been shot and was out of the fight This old sergeant was a Marine veteran. His cheeks were bronzed with the wind and sun of the seven seas. The service bar across his left breast showed that he had fought in the Philippines, in Santo Domingo, at the walls of Pekin, and in the streets of Vera Cruz. I make no apologies for his language. Even if Hugo were not my precedent, I would make no apologies. To me his words were classic, if not sacred.

“As the minute for the advance arrived, he arose from the trees first and jumped out onto the exposed edge of that field that ran with lead, across which he and his men were to charge. Then he turned to give the charge order to the men of his platoon—his mates— the men he loved. He said:

"Come on, You ____ ___ _____! Do you want to live forever?"

"And They Though We Wouldn't Fight," is Title of Floyd Gibbon's Book on War. The Recruiters Bulletin, January 1919, p. 64.

From the Publisher

Personal adventures of an American war correspondent who was on the Laconia when she was torpedoed, saw Pershing and his men land in England, went with them to France and was wounded while observing them in action in the Toul sector. Will not take the place of Palmer for a survey of the whole American army but gives more information than the sketches by Cobb.

The first great story of the American Expeditionary Force, a panoramic picture, a first-hand account from A to Z, by the famous correspondent wounded in action at Château-Thierry. Foch has written that no man is more qualified than Gibbons to tell the true story of the Western Front. Pershing has said that is was Gibbons' great opportunity to give the people in America a life-like picture of the work of the American soldier in France.

940.4 European War, 1914 - Personal narratives, American 18-23560/3 Illustrated.

Book Review - The Independent

Mr. Gibbonss had the opportunity to mingle with the enlisted men, and he describes them in every phase of their life in France from the time they landed there until shortly before the armistice was signed. It is a life-like picture that he draws, for even in new situations and unfamiliar surroundings we recognize the Yankee, enjoy his humor and appreciate his ingenuity. Mr. Gibbons has shared the doughboy's experiences, so that the story he gives us is in the language of the American soldier who just talks his way through "And They Thought We Wouldn't Fight."

-- Review from "The Independent", March 8, 1919, Page 340

Book Review - New Outlook

It is easy to see why this book has become one of the most popular in the literature of the war. It is written by a well-known correspondent, is lifelike and vivacious in its description of the American soldier in France, and is happy in its combination of description and talk with the American soldier himself.

-- Review from "The Outlook", 29 January 1919, Page 171

Book Review - Book Review Digest

Floyd Gibbons went to Franco as the official correspondent of the Chicago Tribune. Frank Comerford In the foreword say* of him: “Gibbons has lived the war. he has been a part of It." A part of It, indeed! A born fighter, he embarked on the Laconia in February 1917, was rescued from the waves when the boat was torpedoed and sunk. Later he was severely wounded and lost an eye. He tells the story of the war with his fighting blood up. The book is illustrated and the appendix gives the personnel of the American expeditionary forces in France.

- Review from Book Review Digest: Devoted to the Valuation of Current Literature - Reviews of 1919 Books, Vol. 15, p. 196

Book Review - The Booklist

Personal adventures of an American war correspondent who was on the Laconia when she was torpedoed, saw Pershing and his men land in England, went with them to Prance and was wounded while observing them in action in the Toul sector. Will not take the place of Palmer (Booklist, 15:177, F 19) for a survey of the whole American army but gives more information than the sketches by Cobb.
940.4 European War. 1914—Personal narratives, American 18-23560/3

- Review from The Booklist, Vol. 15, No. 6, p. 216.

The Bookseller, Newsdealer, and Stationer

Official Correspondent of the Chicago Tribune Accredited to the American Expeditionary Force

“The war book that every American wants to read. This is straight goods. Mr. Gibbons writes without sensationalism, without wordiness, with regard only to the things which he himself has seen and witnessed, with intensity, human feeling and simplicity.”—Providence Journal.

He was on the Laconia when it sank, he saw the arrival of General Pershing in England and in Paris, he was in the battles of Château Thierry, Bois de Belleau and Amiens.

Foch, Pershing and Petain agree that “No man is more qualified than Gibbons to tell the real story.”

-- The Bookseller, Newsdealer, and Stationer, Vol. 50, 15 January 1919, p. 49.


  1. The Sinking of the Laconia
  2. Pershing's Arrival in Europe
  3. The Landing of the First American Contingent in France
  4. Through the School of War
  5. Making the Men Who Man the Guns
  6. Frontward Ho!
  7. Into the Line -- The First American Shot in the War
  8. The First American Sector
  9. The Night Our Guns Cut Loose
  10. Into Picardy to Meet the German Push
  11. Under Fire
  12. Before Cantigny
  13. The Rush of the Raiders -- "Zero at 2 A.M."
  14. On Leave in Paris
  15. Château-Thierry and the Bois de Belleau
  16. Wounded -- How It Feels to be Shot
  17. Good Morning, Nurse
  18. Groans, Laughs and Sobs in the Hospital
  19. July 18th -- The Turn of the Tide
  20. The Dawn of Victory
  21. Personnel of the American Expeditionary Forces in France

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • LC Control No.: 18023560
  • Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
  • Personal Name: Gibbons, Floyd Phillips, 1887-1939.
  • Main Title: "And they thought we wouldn’t fight."
  • Published/Created: New York, Doran [c1918]
  • Description: 410 p. illus. 21 cm.
  • Additional Formats: Also available in digital form on the Internet Archive Web site.
  • Subjects: World War, 1914-1918 --Personal narratives. World War, 1914-1918 --Campaigns --Western Front.
  • LC Classification: D570.9 .G5
  • Other System No.: (OCoLC)2178265
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