"Come on, you sons of bitches!Do you want to live forever?"--First Sergeant Dan Daly, USMC, leading an assault against German machine guns in Belleau Wood Even before it was over at the end of June 1918, Americans were hailing the Battle of Belleau Wood as "the Gettysburg of the Great War"--World War I. U.S. Army general Robert L. Bullard put it this way: "The marines didn't 'win the war' here, but they saved the Allies from defeat. Had they arrived a few hours later, I think that would have been the beginning of the end." Gettysburg? It was more like Thermopylae, 480 BC, when three hundred Spartans held back some say as many as a half million Persians. In 1918, throughout the nearly month-long struggle for a twisted patch of French woodland half the size of New York City's Central Park, the U.S. Marines were always outnumbered by the Germans, but, at the very start of the battle, overwhelmingly so. Just two hundred of them held off the leading edge of Crown Prince Rupprecht's entire army. Stunned by the casualties this tiny band inflicted on them, the German soldiers branded the marines Teufelhunden, and the men of the Marine Corps have proudly called themselves Devil Dogs ever since. Belleau Wood, the former hunting preserve of a Parisian aristocrat, lay little more than thirty miles northeast of Paris. Had the Germans broken through it in June 1918, they would almost surely have captured the French capital, and, with its fall, have knocked France out of the war, leaving the British and the newly arrived Americans little alternative but to surrender on the best terms they could get. In this, their maiden battle of World War I, the United States Marines made sure that the German army was stopped in Belleau Wood--before it could get to Paris. The victory was won at the terrible cost of about 40 percent marine casualties overall, with some companies being virtually wiped out. But the Battle of Belleau Wood burned the marines into the American imagination, instantly elevating the Corps to legendary status and forever transforming American military doctrine itself by demonstrating how the bold and efficient use of small, highly trained, utterly committed units could make the difference even in wars fought on the most massive of scales, bringing the battle to the enemy no matter how overwhelming the odds. This is the story of the epoch-making battle, the battle that made the modern Marine Corps, the battle that would form the heritage behind so many marine victories in later wars, at Tarawa and Iwo Jima, Pork Chop Hill, Khe Sanh, and at Fallujah.