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Abstract

This paper explores the considerable military and technological developments which took place within the French army during the opening stages of this engagement at the regimental level. The research suggests that these developments were a part of the global evolution of infantry tactics in general. Using the 153e Régiment d’Infanterie as a case study, the author will display how even during the first three months of the confrontation, there were significant doctrinal and organizational changes which affected the lowest levels of the French Army. Through the analysis and comparison of the official regimental diaries, personal memoirs, and official military doctrine dictated by French High Command, we see not only how the 153e was indicative of a greater trend within the French Army, but how effective these changes were in combating their equally dynamic adversary. In particular, the addition of a third machinegun company, as well as the usage of intentional low-level tactical withdrawals at Froideterre from February 26–March 12, and at Cote 304 from April 5–13, 1916, give a powerful window into their rapidly changing methods. Through this study of primary materials, the tactical and technological innovations undertaken by the French infantry during the Great War will be evaluated in an effort to display the dynamism that is so often overshadowed by their Anglo-American Allies and German enemies.

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