Fighting in the Meuse-Argonne sector brought American soldiers face-to-face with the horrific conditions of the first World War. Americans faced trench warfare as well as poison gas attacks, and incessant massed artillery fire. The broken terrain in which they fought, the density of the Argonne Forest, and unrelenting rain, cold, and fog as the fighting progressed into October and November challenged the relatively inexperienced American troops.
Furthermore, 1918 saw an incredibly destructive flu epidemic, known as the Spanish Flu. Globally, the 1918 flu killed over 3 percent of the world population. It killed primarily healthy young adults, and was incredibly deadly when combined with the conditions of warfare. Close quarters and malnutrition led to the flu’s rapid spread among those fighting in the World War. More American soldiers died of influenza than by battle inflicted wounds. In addition, the pandemic depleted desperately needed resources for combat support to caring for those affected by the pandemic.