Any Questions You Have

The list of bonus material for A Very Muddy Place is, I think, complete. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you might have about any aspect of the book. I’m happy to reply, and maybe the exchange will make a spark.

Thank you for reading A Very Muddy Place: War Stories.

 

 

Hardcover edition available in December

A Very Muddy Place
Buy on Bookshop

All book sales made through Bookshop directly benefit independent bookstores.

Also available at these retailers.

A Very Muddy Place
WAR STORIES

An intimate account of a soldier’s experience in World War I, A Very Muddy Place takes us on a journey from a young man’s rural American hometown onto one of the great battlefields of France. We follow Private B. F. Potts with the 137th US Infantry Regiment through the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. We discover a personal story—touching, emotional, unforgettable.

In 1918, twenty-three-year-old Bennie Potts was drafted into the US Army to fight in the World War. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. At home after the war, he married and raised a family, and the war for his children and grandchildren became the anecdotes he told them.

A century later, a great grandson brings together his ancestor’s war stories and the historical record to follow Private Benjamin Franklin Potts from Tennessee to the Great War in France and back home again.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

More about A Very Muddy Place

 

Disclosure: This page and linked pages contain affiliate links to Bookshop, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. As an affiliate of those retailers, Stephen earns a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

 


Armistice Day Veterans Giveaway

Dear Veterans,

I want to give you a copy of my book.

If you’re an armed forces veteran of any country, tell me what unit you served in, and I’ll send you an electronic copy of A Very Muddy Place: War Stories.

Look for “Email Me” below in the page footer or send me a private message on Facebook or Twitter.

The book is available in MOBI for your Kindle, EPUB for other e-readers, or PDF for reading on your PC. This giveaway is not time limited. It starts today and goes forever. Feel free to share this message with veterans you know.

Thank you for your service.

—Stephen


“A vivid and deft mingling of anecdotes, history, and dramatic fiction—captivating and historically important.”
—Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

“A VERY MUDDY PLACE is an insightful combination of historical narrative and fictional recreation that brings the Great War to life.”
—Steve Ruskin, PhD History, author of America’s First Great Eclipse

“A poignant, stirring, and ultimately remarkable account, interspersed with personal anecdotes and a keen sense of empathy—a unique, triumphant work.”
—LTC Kevin Ikenberry, USA, Ret., author of The Protocol War series

 

A Very Muddy Place: War Stories
Buy on Bookshop

All book sales made through Bookshop directly benefit independent bookstores.

Also available at these retailers.

Disclosure: The links above go to Bookshop and to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. As an affiliate of those retailers, Stephen earns a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

An intimate account of a soldier’s experience in World War I, A VERY MUDDY PLACE takes us on a journey from a young man’s rural American hometown onto one of the great battlefields of France. We follow Private B. F. Potts with the 137th US Infantry Regiment through the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. We discover a personal story—touching, emotional, unforgettable.

In 1918, twenty-three-year-old Bennie Potts was drafted into the US Army to fight in the World War. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. At home after the war, he married and raised a family, and the war for his children and grandchildren became the anecdotes he told them.

A century later, a great grandson brings together his ancestor’s war stories and the historical record to follow Private Benjamin Franklin Potts from Tennessee to the Great War in France and back home again.

 

Praise for A VERY MUDDY PLACE

“A VERY MUDDY PLACE is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read about the humble soldier’s point of view. It focuses on the experiences of the author’s great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Potts, who fought with the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. The book is a vivid and deft mingling of anecdotes, history, and dramatic fiction, enriched with historic photographs, documents, and detailed maps. This is a captivating and historically important work. I highly recommend it!”
—Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

“Far too many histories of the First World War languish in private letters and forgotten family records. In A VERY MUDDY PLACE, Stephen Wendell constructs a narrative with his great grandfather’s stories to open a window on the horrors of that distant war. Using primary source material, he brings the Great War to life in the person of Benjamin Franklin Potts. This book is a delight, an insightful combination of historical narrative and fictional recreation, and we are better for it.”
—Steve Ruskin, PhD History, author of America’s First Great Eclipse

“Stephen Wendell crafts a poignant, stirring, and ultimately remarkable account of his ancestor’s service in the Great War. His attention to detail and depth of research is commendable. Interspersed with personal anecdotes and a keen sense of empathy, A VERY MUDDY PLACE is a unique, triumphant work of the highest merit and a tribute unlike anything I’ve ever read.”
—LTC Kevin Ikenberry, USA, Ret., author of The Protocol War series


AVMP Bibliography

Entering the web addresses from AVMP’s bibliography can be tedious. With the publication of the Kindle edition, I have the bibliography in HTML format. For the print reader’s convenience, I copy it here with hyperlinks.

 

Annotated Bibliography

The following is a list of selected sources used in research for this book. I give notes on those I found most useful.

For the reader who would like more details about what life was like for B. F. Potts and about his movements with the 137th Regiment, I draw attention to the works of three authors: Haterius, Hoyt, and Kenamore, who were with the regiment or its parent division.

Where a source is available on the World Wide Web, I give a URL. All web addresses below were last accessed March 15, 2019.

 

American Battle Monuments Commission. 30th Division, Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1944.
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b3110102.

To accompany this and similar volumes, including one for the Thirty-Fifth Division (below), the ABMC also produced maps showing each division’s position during the battles in which it participated. For high-resolution digital versions of the ABMC maps used in this book, see the web page:
https://www.stephenwendell.com/avmp/.

American Battle Monuments Commission. 35th Division, Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1944.
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b3110105.

American Battle Monuments Commission. American Armies and Battlefields in Europe: A History, Guide, and Reference Book. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1938.
https://www.abmc.gov/sites/default/files/publications/AABEFINAL_Blue_Book.pdf.

Ambulance Company Number 139. History of Ambulance Company Number 139. Kansas City, KS: E. R. Callender, n.d.
https://archive.org/details/historyofambulan00kansiala/.

Association of the Friends of Vauquois and its Region. “Mound of Vauquois.”
http://butte-vauquois.fr/en/.

The website of the Association of the Friends of Vauquois and its Region has photos and information on visiting the site. The guided tour of the underground galleries, where the mine war took place, is enlightening, educational, and horrific.

Crosby, Alfred W. America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association (website). “Arl B. Kelly.”
https://etvma.org/veterans/arl-b-kelly-6676/.

Giangreco, D. M. “Captain Harry Truman and Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, in Action in the Argonne.” Journal of the Royal Artillery 130, no. 3 (Autumn 2003): 56-59.

Giangreco is the author of several books on military and sociopolitical topics, including two about Harry Truman: Dear Harry . . . : Truman’s Mailroom, 1945-1953 (Stackpole Books, 1999) and The Soldier from Independence: A Military Biography of Harry Truman (Zenith, 2009). The journal article is also found at Worldwar1.com’s Doughboy Center:
http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/truman2.htm.

Haterius, Carl E. Reminiscences of the 137th U. S. Infantry. Topeka, KS: Crane, 1919.
https://archive.org/details/reminiscencesof100hate/.

Haterius was a band member in the 137th who kept a diary. Although events sometimes run together and the dates can be nebulous, what Haterius does well is give the ambiance—what it felt like at a place and time. He also reproduces the division and brigade orders for the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Hoyt, Charles B. Heroes of the Argonne: An Authentic History of the Thirty-Fifth Division. Compiled by C. B. Lyon, Jr. Kansas City, MO: Franklin Hudson, 1919.
https://archive.org/details/heroesofargonnea00hoyt/.

A private first class in the 139th Field Hospital, Hoyt wrote this history from official records, orders, and interviews with officers and men of the division. While it lacks Haterius’s intimacy and Kenamore’s detail, the book corroborates dates and places, and accompanying the text are plentiful maps and photographs.

Hurley, Edward N. The Bridge to France. Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott, 1927.
http://www.gwpda.org/wwi-www/Hurley/.

Kenamore, Clair. From Vauquois Hill to Exermont: A History of the Thirty-Fifth Division of the United States Army. St. Louis, MO: Guard, 1919.
https://archive.org/details/fromvauquoishill00ken/.

Kenamore had previously reported on another of General John J. Pershing’s exploits, the Mexican Expedition, in 1916. When the officers and men of the Missouri and Kansas National Guard units shipped to Europe, Kenamore followed. A correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he reported back to the folks at home the activities of their sons on the front. After the war, he collected articles and notes to write this history of the Thirty-Fifth Division.

King, Benjamin, Richard C. Biggs, and Eric R. Criner. Spearhead of Logistics: A History of the United States Army Transportation Corps. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 2001.

Poor, Henry V. Poor’s Manual of Railroads: Fifty-Third Annual Number. New York: Poor’s, 1920.
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.a0002685253.

Powell, Ted. King Edward VIII: An American Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Rinaldi, Richard A. The United States Army in World War I: Orders of Battle, Ground Units, 1917-1919. Takoma Park, MD: General Data, 2005.

Smith, Eugene W. Trans-Atlantic Passenger Ships Past and Present. Boston, MA: George H. Dean, 1947.
https://archive.org/details/transatlanticpas00smitrich/.

Stuart, Richard W., ed. American Military History Volume II: The United States Army in a Global Era, 1917-2008. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 2010.
https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/educational-services/military-history/american-military-history-volume-2.pdf.

The US Army’s Center for Military History produced this thorough but brief text, which covers the nation’s military history up to Afghanistan and Iraq in two volumes. Volume II, Chapter 1: “The U.S. Army in World War I, 1917–1918,” covers our target period in fifty pages, including maps, photos, and informative sidebars.

Sparks, Winnie, ed. Livingston County Illinois in the World War. N.p.: Board of Supervisors of Livingston County, n.d.

 

 

A Very Muddy Place
Buy on Bookshop

All book sales made through Bookshop directly benefit independent bookstores.

Also available at these retailers.

A Very Muddy Place
WAR STORIES

An intimate account of a soldier’s experience in World War I, A Very Muddy Place takes us on a journey from a young man’s rural American hometown onto one of the great battlefields of France. We follow Private B. F. Potts with the 137th US Infantry Regiment through the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. We discover a personal story—touching, emotional, unforgettable.

In 1918, twenty-three-year-old Bennie Potts was drafted into the US Army to fight in the World War. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. At home after the war, he married and raised a family, and the war for his children and grandchildren became the anecdotes he told them.

A century later, a great grandson brings together his ancestor’s war stories and the historical record to follow Private Benjamin Franklin Potts from Tennessee to the Great War in France and back home again.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

More about A Very Muddy Place

 

Disclosure: This page and linked pages contain affiliate links to Bookshop, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. As an affiliate of those retailers, Stephen earns a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

 


Thank You

On this otherwise unremarkable day, I’d like to thank you, Dear Reader, for your support. Your feedback and encouragement since the posting of the first chapters of my great grandfather’s story have made the past year and a half exceptionally rewarding.

I would also like to ask those of you who have enjoyed A Very Muddy Place in paperback to leave a short review, please, on its Amazon page. A few heartfelt words with as many stars as you think it deserves help the book to find its audience.

Special thanks to those of you who have already done so. I love all three of you!

Thank You


AVMP Kindle Edition on Pre-Order

I am happy to announce the Kindle Edition of A Very Muddy Place: War Stories is available for pre-order. If you order now, you get 1/3rd off the regular price and the book will be delivered to your Kindle on its release date, scheduled for November 1.

 

 

A Very Muddy Place
Buy on Bookshop

All book sales made through Bookshop directly benefit independent bookstores.

Also available at these retailers.

A Very Muddy Place
WAR STORIES

An intimate account of a soldier’s experience in World War I, A Very Muddy Place takes us on a journey from a young man’s rural American hometown onto one of the great battlefields of France. We follow Private B. F. Potts with the 137th US Infantry Regiment through the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. We discover a personal story—touching, emotional, unforgettable.

In 1918, twenty-three-year-old Bennie Potts was drafted into the US Army to fight in the World War. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. At home after the war, he married and raised a family, and the war for his children and grandchildren became the anecdotes he told them.

A century later, a great grandson brings together his ancestor’s war stories and the historical record to follow Private Benjamin Franklin Potts from Tennessee to the Great War in France and back home again.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

More about A Very Muddy Place

 

Disclosure: This page and linked pages contain affiliate links to Bookshop, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. As an affiliate of those retailers, Stephen earns a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

 


75mm Second Hand

A steel chamber holds a brass shell. Inside it, a pin ignites propellant. The confined explosion shoots a projectile and a gout of flame from the 75mm (3 inches) bore. The gun jumps, the earth shudders, a shock wave shatters the air and accompanies a roar that bursts between the ears. Spent, the brass shell slides to the ground with a hallow shing! Another round replaces it and, as soon, ignites. Powder fumes permeate the air. Explosions count seconds across unending darkness…

It was the night of September 25, 1918. To prepare the terrain for the next morning’s attack, the artillery barrage began at 11:30 p.m. “The infantry moved forward through the woods in approximately the formation they were to employ the following day. The men lay down among the big guns and tried to sleep” (Kenamore, From Vauquois Hill to Exermont, 88, emphasis mine).

The video, footage taken by the US Army Signal Corps, shows “The famous ‘75’s’ in action at Le Cotes de Forimont, September 27, 1918.”

Les Côtes de Foriment are a ridge two kilometers (1.24 miles) south of Vauquois. From the 35th Division field orders, we know the division’s 60th Field Artillery Brigade, with their 75mm guns, took position there by September 25.

In the video, notice the gun fires every four seconds. An artillery battery consists of four guns.

…Explosions counts seconds across unending darkness.

In this infernal night lies our young private, waiting, suspended in time, between sleep and prayer.

—Excerpts from A Very Muddy Place: War Stories

Continue reading "75mm Second Hand" »


Private Potts’s Interactive Itinerary

The 18th of September [1918] was a Wednesday. It was the day Benjamin Franklin Potts turned twenty-four years old. Any letters from home wishing him a happy birthday would have found him around Foucaucourt-sur-Thabas, six miles west of Les Charmentois, sixteen miles south of the Butte of Vauquois.

—from A Very Muddy Place: War Stories

Foucaucourt is a tiny village in the Argonne region of France. It lounges on the south bank of the Thabas, a shaded stream.

It’s more difficult to find on a map than it is to pronounce. I can help you with both. In my American accent, I say fook-oh-cor sur ta-ba, and you can find it on the interactive map below.

Also on the map, I marked other places on Private Potts’s itinerary in North America and Europe, as well as those of his brothers.

And on this Wednesday, September 18, I am happy to announce I am hard at work on the electronic version of the book. A Very Muddy Place: War Stories will be available for Kindle in the autumn.

Happy Birthday, Bennie.

 

Interactive Itinerary on Google MapsImagery ©2019 Google, DigitalGlobe, Map data ©2019 Google

Continue reading "Private Potts’s Interactive Itinerary" »


AVMP in the Library at The Friends of Vauquois

I had a message from Alain Jeannesson, president of Les Amis de Vauquois et de sa région, to whom I sent a copy of A Very Muddy Place. Mr. Jeannesson informs me that the book takes its place in the association’s library and is to be accompanied by a summary in French.

Association of the Friends of Vauquois and its Region. “Mound of Vauquois.” http://butte-vauquois.fr/en/.
The website of the Association of the Friends of Vauquois and its Region has photos and information on visiting the site. The guided tour of the underground galleries, where the mine war took place, is enlightening, educational, and horrific.

—from the bibliography of A Very Muddy Place: War Stories

 

A Very Muddy Place
Buy on Bookshop

All book sales made through Bookshop directly benefit independent bookstores.

Also available at these retailers.

A Very Muddy Place
WAR STORIES

An intimate account of a soldier’s experience in World War I, A Very Muddy Place takes us on a journey from a young man’s rural American hometown onto one of the great battlefields of France. We follow Private B. F. Potts with the 137th US Infantry Regiment through the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. We discover a personal story—touching, emotional, unforgettable.

In 1918, twenty-three-year-old Bennie Potts was drafted into the US Army to fight in the World War. He served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. At home after the war, he married and raised a family, and the war for his children and grandchildren became the anecdotes he told them.

A century later, a great grandson brings together his ancestor’s war stories and the historical record to follow Private Benjamin Franklin Potts from Tennessee to the Great War in France and back home again.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

More about A Very Muddy Place

 

Disclosure: This page and linked pages contain affiliate links to Bookshop, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. As an affiliate of those retailers, Stephen earns a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

 


Five Map Sheets from La carte de l’état-major

I love maps—especially pretty ones and especially old ones. These are both.

The 273 rectangular sheets that constitute La carte de l’état-major cover all of France at 1:40,000 scale. Elevation (in meters) is marked on hilltops and mountain peaks. Steepness is indicated by hatch marks, lines like rays from a peak. The closer together these lines, the steeper the slope. This elevation hatching and the Garamond typeface make the maps distinctive.

In use from the mid-nineteenth to well into the twentieth century, these maps were used by the French army during the war to generate larger scale maps of the western front.

—from A Very Muddy Place: War Stories

If you love maps too, you can follow Private Potts from the Haye Forest (see Chapter 8, “In Reserve at Saint-Mihiel”) to Auzéville (12, “A Potts Family Day of Thanks”) on map sheets Commercy SE and Bar-le-Duc NE, then to the Hesse Forest and Vauquois to Exermont (Part Two, “The Argonne Battle”) on Verdun SE and Verdun NE, and back to Sampigny (29, “Cruel Days”) on Commercy SO. On this last, General Pershing inspected the troops (30, “Godspeed”) just north of Commercy on the field between the villages Vignot and Boncourt.

VERDUN NE Verdun NE
Exermont (top left)
 
VERDUN SE Verdun SE
Vauquois (middle left)
 
BAR-LE-DUC NE Bar-le-Duc NE
Auzéville (top left-of-center)
 
Commercy SO
Commercy (bottom center)
Commercy SE
Forêt de Haie (bottom right)
  COMMERCY SO COMMERCY SE

Five map sheets from La carte de l’état-major arranged in geographic order

Explore elsewhere in the country on the French government’s Géoportail.

Continue reading "Five Map Sheets from La carte de l’état-major" »