The American Expeditionary Force

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The American "Invasion" of Russia

Red Army Banner for the Campaign against the American Expeditionary Force

A little known episode in American history is the landing of American troops in Russia to fight the communists. The United States, along with Canada, Great Britain, France, and Japan became entangled in the civil war which followed the Bolshevik revolution. It was World War I and the Soviet government had negotiated a peace treaty with Germany removing them from the war. America and its allies joined with the White Russians, who promised to stay in the war, to fight the Red Army. 

The Allies feared that the major ports in northwest Russia--Murmansk and Archangel--would fall to Germany after Russia left the war. Millions of dollars of war supplies, mostly sent from the United States to Russia while they were still in the war, were stored in the docks and warehouses of Archangel.

An allied force under British command was sent to Russia on August 3, 1918. They took the city of Archangel and pushed the Red Army (Bolshevik troops) south. At the request of the British, the United States sent a regiment to join the campaign.

As the weather worsened, the troops fought through the winter in deep snow and intense cold against the Red Army, well after the fighting ceased on the Western Front in November. In May of 1919 American troops began to withdraw, replaced by fresh British troops and Russian White Army allies.

The leader of the American troops felt that the operation was mismanaged, and his soldiers subjected to unnecessary hardships. This small force suffered over 400 casualties.

To Americans, this campaign is a little known minor incident of World War I. But to the Russians, who had great pride in their ultimate victory, this was the "American invasion."


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