Lorraine Campaign

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Lorraine Campaign is a term used by U.S. Army historians to describe operations of the U.S. Third Army in Lorraine during World War II from September 1 through December 18, 1944. Official U.S. Army campaign names for this period and location are Northern France and Rhineland . The term was popularized by the publication of a volume of the same name by the U.S. Army in 1950.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

United States Army Central military unit

The United States Army Central, formerly the Third United States Army, commonly referred to as the Third Army and as ARCENT is a military formation of the United States Army, which saw service in World War I and World War II, in the 1991 Gulf War, and in the coalition occupation of Iraq. It is best known for its campaigns in World War II under the command of General George S. Patton.

Lorraine Place in Grand Est, France

Lorraine is a cultural and historical region in north-eastern France, now located in the administrative region of Grand Est. Lorraine's name stems from the medieval kingdom of Lotharingia, which in turn was named for either Emperor Lothair I or King Lothair II. It later was ruled as the Duchy of Lorraine before the Kingdom of France annexed it in 1766.


Explanation of title

As written by the volume's author:

Precise military terminology has been employed, except in those cases where clarity and economy of style have dictated usage of a more general nature. Thus, the Third Army operations in Lorraine are considered to be a "campaign" in the general sense of the term, despite the fact that the Department of the Army does not award a separate campaign star for these operations. [1]

Although the term Lorraine Campaign is unofficial, it represents a more traditional use of the term "campaign" in that the battles described by the term were part of a larger operation that had a set goal. By contrast, the official U.S. Army campaign names refer to what were actually multiple campaigns and large military organizations with diverse goals.

Operationally, the term encompasses the assaults across the Moselle and Sauer Rivers, the battles of Metz and Nancy, and the push to the German frontier and the crossing of the Saar/Sarre River during the first half of December 1944.

Moselle river in Germany, France and Luxembourg

The Moselle is a river flowing through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. It is a left tributary of the Rhine, which it joins at Koblenz. A small part of Belgium is also drained by the Moselle through the Sauer and the Our.

Sauer river in Belgium, Luxembourg and German border

The Sauer or Sûre (French) is a river in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. A left tributary of the Moselle, its total length is 173 kilometres (107 mi).

Battle of Metz

The Battle of Metz was a battle fought during World War II at the city of Metz, France, from late September 1944 through mid-December between the U.S. Third Army commanded by Lieutenant General George Patton and the German Army commanded by General Otto von Knobelsdorff. Strong German resistance resulted in heavy casualties for both sides. The city was captured by U.S. forces and hostilities formally ceased on 22 November; the last of the forts defending Metz surrendered on 13 December.



The Third Army, led by General Patton, lacking gasoline, was unable to swiftly take both Metz and Nancy, unlike the actions that characterized the rapid advance across France. After the battle of Arracourt following the fall of Nancy and the meeting engagement of Mairy, the Third Army had to pause and await resupply. For the OKW, stopping Patton was a priority that resulted in replacements and reinforcements for the German Fifth Panzer Army and First Army.

Metz Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Metz is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. Metz is the prefecture of the Moselle department and the seat of the parliament of the Grand Est region. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, the city forms a central place of the European Greater Region and the SaarLorLux euroregion.

Nancy, France Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Nancy is the capital of the north-eastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, and formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine, and then the French province of the same name. The metropolitan area of Nancy had a population of 434,565 inhabitants at the 2011 census, making it the 20th largest urban area in France. The population of the city of Nancy proper was 104,321 in 2014.

Battle of Arracourt major clash between US and German armored forces near the French town of Arracourt

The Battle of Arracourt took place between U.S. and German armoured forces near the town of Arracourt, Lorraine, France between 18 and 29 September 1944, during World War II. As part of a counteroffensive against recent U.S. advances in France, the German 5th Panzer Army had as its objective the recapture of Lunéville and the elimination of the XII Corps bridgehead over the Moselle River at Dieulouard.

Fortress Metz

Until 12 October 1944 and the beginning of the assault on Metz, exceptionally rainy weather hampered military operations. This combined with spirited German resistance and competent use of the terrain around Metz to delay the capture of Metz until late in November 1944.

Saar and Siegfried Line

After the fall of Metz and its fortifications, the Third Army launched an offensive to advance to the Westwall.

Offensive operations by the U.S. Army in this part of the Western Front resumed in mid-March 1945 with the objective of occupying the Saar-Palatinate.

The attack across the Saar River was under way as the Germans opened the Ardennes Offensive and Alsace-Lorraine Offensive. Operations on the Saar were scaled down as Third Army shifted troops north to counterattack the German offensive into Belgium and Luxembourg from the south. The move north of the Third Army marked the close of the Lorraine Campaign.


The 3rd Army sustained 55,182 combat casualties during the Lorraine Campaign (6,657 killed, 36,406 wounded, 12,119 missing) [2]

Exact German losses in Lorraine are unknown, but were suspected to be severe. At least 75,000 German prisoners were captured by the 3rd Army during the offensive. [3]


Historian Carlo D'Este wrote that the Lorraine Campaign was one of Patton's least successful, faulting him for not deploying his divisions more aggressively and decisively. [4] A 1985 US Army study of the Lorraine Campaign was highly critical of Patton. [5] The document states:

"Few of the Germans defending Lorraine could be considered First-rate troops. Third Army encountered whole battalions made up of deaf men, others of cooks, and others consisting entirety of soldiers with stomach ulcers."

"Soldiers and generals alike assumed that Lorraine would fall quickly, and unless the war ended first, Patton's tanks would take the war into Germany by summer's end. But Lorraine was not to be overrun in a lightning campaign. Instead, the battle for Lorraine would drag on for more than 3 months."
"Moreover, once Third Army penetrated the province and entered Germany, there would still be no first-rate military objectives within its grasp. The Saar industrial region, while significant, was of secondary importance when compared to the great Ruhr industrial complex farther north."
"Was the Lorraine campaign an American victory? From September through November, Third Army claimed to have inflicted over 180,000 casualties on the enemy. But to capture the province of Lorraine, a problem which involved an advance of only 40 to 60 air miles, Third Army required over 3 months and suffered 50,000 casualties, approximately one-third of the total number of casualties it sustained in the entire European war."
"Ironically, Third Army never used Lorraine as a springboard for an advance into Germany after all. Patton turned most of the sector over to Seventh Army during the Ardennes crisis, and when the eastward advance resumed after the Battle of the Bulge, Third Army based its operations on Luxembourg, not Lorraine. The Lorraine campaign will always remain a controversial episode in American military history."
"Finally the Lorraine Campaign demonstrated that Logistics often drive operations, no matter how forceful and aggressive the commanding general may be."

"He discovered that violating logistical principles is an unforgiving and cumulative matter."'' [6]

The US Army study highlighted Patton's tendency to overstretch his supply lines.

See also



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