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Louisiana Maneuvers

In 1939 after Germany overran Poland, the U.S. government leaders began to gear up for America's inevitable involvement in the war. America's relatively small and inexperienced army was rapidly expanding and needed a place to hold exercises. A 3,400 square mile sparsely populated area in central Louisiana between the Sabine and Red Rivers was selected for this purpose. Maneuvers were held at this location in 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944. The 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers were the largest and involved 19 divisions and nearly half a million men. The Louisiana Maneuvers gave the Army strategists a chance to try untested tactics under battlefield conditions and to devise ways to deal with the unique problems they'd be facing in Europe while directing and supplying large, combined-arms units. Several military officers who were to later rise to fame in World War II including George Marshall, Joseph Stilwell, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, George S. Patton and others took the lessons learned at the Louisiana Maneuvers with them overseas and put them to practical use. General George Marshall, during maneuvers reportedly said, "I want the mistakes made in Louisiana, not made in Europe. If it doesn't work, find out what we need to do to make it work." The always fiery George Patton said, "If you could take these tanks through Louisiana, you could take them through Hell."

The photos here show personnel of what was to later become the 347th Ordnance Depot Company at the 1943 Louisiana Maneuvers which began in April. Then assigned to the 194th Ordnance Battalion their mission was the supply of all ordnance parts to the Blue Forces composed of the 85th Division and other miscellaneous independent units.