Unknown soldier

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About the project

Some time ago I was sitting in my spot at the local community yard sale. As I thumbed through the box of paperbacks that I was selling, I came across a somewhat tattered French book, Georges Boucheron, L'Assaut: l'Argonne et Vauquois avec la 10e division, 1914-1915 (The Assault: the Argonne and Vauquois with the Tenth Division, 1914-1915, Paris, 1917). I had no idea how, where or when I had acquired the book, but I later learned that Boucheron (1880-1946) was a middle-aged lawyer who had enlisted in the French army in late August 1914. His memoir focuses on the first nine months of the war and the French struggle to capture the Vauquois ridge (La Butte de Vauquois) located in the Argonne region of France to the northwest of Verdun.

As I sat there, I looked at the title a bit more and then decided that maybe I shouldn't sell the book, that maybe there was a history that deserved to be read, and that maybe the men described in the book deserved to be remembered for what they had done during the war.

And so I read the book which recounts the story of a French infantry unit in the first year of the war and the desperate attempts by the French to capture the Vauquois ridge. After completing the book, I decided to translate the memoir so that I could use it in my history survey courses.

Then, to support the use of the translation in my classes, I worked to develop some background materials, and these materials were put on this website along with the translation. The website now includes: Boucheron's memoir in the original French and in translation, relevant maps, images and documents, a timeline and overview of the battle, and a selection of useful resources.

Some funding support was provided by the Virginia Community College System. Thanks to Professor Brice Montaner, who helped with some difficult French passages, and to Anne Lilly who helped with inter-library loan materials.

I have developed quite a few online projects to support my history teaching at Northern Virginia Community College. These projects can be found on my History Page, while my online and campus courses can be found on my college home page.