Battle of Verdun

Map of Verdun Battle

The German hoped to draw the French into war of Attrition which they thought they could win. The French however were able to reinforce their lines and soon match the German fire power. The battle lasted 303 days and over created over 700,000 casualties and the sides ended close to where they began.


The Battle of Verdun was the longest and costliest of all the battles on the West Front during the war. The Battle began on February 21, 1916 with a German assault on Meuse Heights a series of hills that if captured would allow German gunshot pound the city of Verdun. Initially the offensive was successful, the Germans captured the French fort of Daoaumont. French General Petain however ordered no retreats.The French were able to poor 20 divisions into the fight and make a german advance all but impossible. By the end of March their counter batteries were pounding the German lines.

The Germans than changed their tactics and attacked across the Meuse River trying to capture the grounds that the French batteries were located. French reinforcements were able to stop the advance. By May the French were able to briefly regain partial control of the Fort Daoaumont, only to lose it again. The German ice able to push forward all the way to Fleury pushing within 2.5 miles of Verdun Castle. From June until August the town of Fleury changed hands sixteen times. By August the Germans were forced to withdraw some of their troops from the battlefield to partake in the Battle of Somme's as a result between August and December the French counteroffensive successful recaptured all the ground lost.

The battle lasted for 303 days with a total of 714,000 casualties; 377,000 French and 337,00 German. The Germans had hoped to win a war of attrition with French starting off the battle with a large edge in artillery. By the end of the battle however the French were able to match and often exceed the Germans in terms of artillery and were also able to rotate their troops in and out of the battlefield so that their moral never came close to breaking. The Germans hoped to win a decisive victory at Verdun, but once again the battle ended more or less where it began.