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Full text of "A brief history of the Fighting Yankee Division, A.E.F. : on the battlefront, February 5, 1918-November 11, 1918"

26th division 

CHEMIN-DES-DABIES 

TOUL 

CHATEAU-THIERRT 

ST. MIHIEL 

MEUSE 

ARGONNE 

VERDUN 



BY 

JOHN NBLSON 



REPRINTED) FROM 

THE WORCESTER EVENING GAZETTE 

PRICE IS GENTS 







fl 


BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 






ESTATE OF 






MRS. E.W. HUTCHINS 




m 











A BRIEF HISTORY 



OF THE 



fighting 
Yankee Division 

A. E. F. 



ON THE BATTLEFRONT 
FEBRUARY 5, 1918— NOVEMBER 11, 1918 



BY 

JOHN NELSON 



THIRD EDITION 



COPYRIGHT. 1919 

BY 

THE WORCESTER GAZETTE COMPANY 



REPRINTED FROM 

THE WORCESTER EVENING GAZETTE 

1919 







(Photo by Marceau, Boston) 



MAJ. GEN. CLARENCE R. EDWARDS, 
Commanding 26th Division, July 25, 1917-October 25, 1918. 



THE 26TH DIVISION 

"SAVIORS OF PARIS" 



The record of the New England Division, the 26th Division 
of the United States army, will live forever as one of the most 
glorious in American annals. No division in any army has ever 
fought with greater endurance and grit and bulldog tenacity ; with 
greater cheerfulness and height of morale, than the Yankee 
Division, the Sacrifice Division, the ' ' Saviors of Paris, ' ' to use the 
full-hearted sobriquet bestowed by the grateful French people; 
"the pick of the shock troops" to use the expression of great 
French generals. 

No New England heart can help but leap at the thought of 
these splendid representatives of American manhood who were 
chosen by Gen. Pershing to march on the Rhine with Gen. Foch as 
a part of his Army of Triumph. For, the Armistice signed, Persh- 
ing named for that army the ten divisions of the American Expedi- 
tionary Forces which had fought longest and endured most and 
contributed the greatest share to the Victory of Peace, and the 
Y. D. is of the foremost among those ten in the honor it has won. 

But the gallant regiments could not respond. Cut to pieces 
in the frightful battles on the Meuse, in the Argonne, at Verdun ; 
thousands of men lost in the very last days of the fighting; the 
remnants worn out by the cumulative fatigue of months of incessant 
campaigning, their horses exhausted or dead, their clothing re- 
duced to rags — the spirit willing but the flesh weak, they were 
compelled to relinquish this final task. But the honor and the 
glorious fame of it remained theirs. 

The Y. D, is one of four divisions of the American Army which 
are grouped by themselves as the veterans of veterans of the 
American Expeditionary Forces. This splendid quartette is made 
up of the 1st, 2d, 26th and 42d Divisions. Other American Di- 
visions fought as valiantly, but none saw the intensity of service 



4 YANKEE DIVISION 

in months at the front, in sectors held, in battles fought, in grand 
total of achievement. Military experts, French, British and Ameri- 
can alike, agree in this verdict, and it is voiced by the Secretary of 
War, who reflects the opinion of Gen. Pershing and his generals. 
The 1st and 2d Regulars and the 26th and 42d National Guardsmen 
are the premier American divisions. Much of what is here written 
about the Y. D. could be said as truthfully of any one of these 
others. 

THE Y. D.'s CITATIONS AND DECORATIONS 
The 26th Division has to its credit nearly 150 citations from 
the great French and American leaders. Fully 7000 of its men 
have been cited for bravery, and many more than half a thousand 
have won the Distinguished Service Cross of the American Army 
or the Croix de Guerre of the French. 

The 104th Infantry was until recently the only regiment in the 
United States Army whose colors have been decorated by a foreign 
government. On April 26, 1918, after the battle of Bois Brule, ai 
Apremont, the 104th was cited by headquarters of the 32d French 
Army Corps, and its colors were decorated with the Croix de 
Guerre. Other divisional citations follow: 

Cited by headquarters, 11th French Army Corps, March 15, 1918. 
Commended (101st Infantry), in service memorandum, headquar- 
ters Vllth French Army, June 8, 1918. 

Commended, in service memorandum, headquarters Vllth French 
Army, June 17, 1918. 

Congratulated in memorandum, headquarters 3d French Armj^ 
Corps. 

Cited by headquarters, 32d French Army Corps, June 18, 1918. 
Commended (103d Infantry), in letter from G. H. Q., A. E. F., 
June 20, 1918. 

Cited by headquarters, 32d French Army Corps, June 27, 1918. 

Congratulated in letter, Vlth French Army, July 29, 1918. 

Cited by Vlth French Army, August 9, 1918. 

Cited by G. H. Q., A. E. F., August 28, 1918. 

Cited (102d Infantry) by headquarters, 5th Army Corps, A. E. F., 

September 18, 1918. 
Commended in letter from headquarters, 2d French Colonial Corps, 

October 3, 1918. 

Commended in letter from 2d French Colonial Corps, Octo- 
ber 7, 1918. 



YANKEE DIVISION 5 

Commended (104th Infantry) in letter from headquarters, 18th 

French Division, October 17, 1918. 
Commended in letter from headquarters, 17th French Army Corps, 

October 24, 1918. 
Commended in letter from headquarters, 2d French Colonial Corps, 

November 14, 1918. 

GEN. EDWARDS AND THE Y. D. 

Maj. Gen. Clarence R. Edwards and the Yankee Division will 
ever remain in intimate and loving association. This fighting gen- 
eral of the regular army organized the Division and took it overseas. 
He conducted the training which moulded it into a combat division 
of the highest class. He commanded it at Chemin-des-Dames, at 
Toul, at Chateau-Thierry and the Second Battle of the Marne, at 
St. Mihiel, and on the Meuse and at Verdun, until the final fort- 
night which preceded the Armistice. He was more than a friend, 
he was a father to his boys, and they knew him as such and as a 
leader of rare military skill. His going was a great grief to them. 
Although he was relieved of the command, among the men of the 
Y. D. he will always be "Our General." 

Gen. Edwards was succeeded on October 25 by Brig. Gen. 
F. E. Bamford, who in turn, on November 19, was relieved by 
Maj. Gen. Harry C. Hale. 

THE FIRST N. G. DIVISION IN FRANCE 

The 26th was the first National Guard division, and, in fact, 
the first full division to arrive in France. Of fighting men it was 
preceded only by a part of the 1st Division of regulars. Its men 
are numbered in the first 50,000 of the American Expeditionary 
Forces. No other American division has seen so long and contin- 
uous service on the front. "When the armistice was signed and the 
guns ceased to roar, the Y. D. had had nine months of incessant 
fighting, interrupted only by passage from front to front, always in 
its travels, as it happened, under the most adverse of weather condi- 
tions. Back and forth across northern France the regiments were 
shunted, always promised rest but never getting it, for no cam- 
paign could begin without them. Fully 1200 miles did the Yankees 
travel in France, before the Armistice was signed, always on grim 
business, never on pleasure bent. 

The Division was the first to take over a sector at the front, as 
a division. They fought at Chemin-des-Dames, at Toul, at the Sec- 
ond Battle of the Marne, where they delivered the blow that sent 
the Hun reeling back from the salient, the apex of which was 
Chateau-Thierry ; they fought at St. Mihiel, where they were given 



6 YANKEE DIVISION 

the most difficult sector, and they fought in the bloodiest of bat- 
tles, in front of Metz and on the Meuse, in the Argonne country 
and at Verdun. 

Always the 26th was given the most difficult task to do, for 
they were certain to do it right, as shock troops should. The post 
of honor was always theirs, and in war the post of honor is where 
the hardest, most resolute, most desperate fighting is to be done. 
The Y. D. earned the name given it by the Allied armies, the Sacri- 
fice Division. Its men never complained. Incessant, nerve-strain- 
ing danger, the terrible sufferings from exposure to cold and rain, 
from hunger and thirst and endless want of sleep; the disap- 
pointment of promised rest and pleasure again and again de- 
ferred — none of these affected the cheerfulness and fighting spirit 
of the Y'ankee lads. One has but to read their letters home to 
know this. When the full history is written of the Minutemen, 
as they came very near being called, there will be no more inspiring 
tale for red-blooded men of future generations to read. 

Because the Y. D. had longest service of any American division 
in France, President Wilson selected it for his Christmas visit to 
the soldiers. 

The 26th Division was made up entirely of the National Guard 
of New England. When it left the United States every man was 
a volunteer. Tens of thousands of replacements were made from 
the National Army, but most of these men were from Western 
states. And of course many of the new officers hailed from other 
parts of the country. But every one of those New England boys 
who went overseas with the Division was a volunteer. When 
hostilities ceased hardly 15 per cent of them remained. The names 
of most of the others are in the casualty lists. 

The Division was called into service July 25, 1917. The in- 
fantry mobilized at Framingham, Worcester, Westfield and other 
camps, the artillery at Boxford. The old National Guard regi- 
ments had to be consolidated and readjusted to some extent in 
order to get the full strength of four infantry regiments on the 
new basis of organization, and to expand the artillery from frac- 
tions of regiments to three full regiments of six batteries each. 

The Kainbow Division was organized to go over first ; its com 
position of National Guard units of 38 states had that end in view. 
But it was not ready and the Yankee Division was ready and beat 
the Rainbows overseas by several months. 

MOULDING A GREAT COMBAT DIVISION 
The training progressed rapidly until, early in September, 
1917, the first contingent, consisting of the 101st Infantry and the 



YANKEE DIVISION 7 

101st Field Artillery, left camp for Hoboken, the port of embarka- 
tion, and sailed to Liverpool, the transports stopping at Halifax 
to pick np the convoy. Without delay the regiments crossed Eng- 
land to Southampton and immediately embarked for France, land- 
ing at Havre about Sept. 20. The other regiments of the Division 
followed in quick succession. 

The infantry training camp was at Neufchateau, in eastern 
France, while the artillery units were stationed at Coetquidan, 
near Rennes in Brittany, an ancient artillery training camp, estab- 
lished by Napoleon. The work was severe, relentless, but the 
results showed the wisdom of the hard, Avell-directed training, in 
vchich French officers played important parts as instructors. The 
infantry was as highly skilled as any in any army of any nation in 
all France. 

The artillery had won a name for itself for rapidity and 
accuracy of fire even before it left Coetquidan. As most people 
know, the American army guns had been left at home, and the 
task was to master the French 75s and the heavier 155s, and to 
equal the French standard of fire. No greater accuracy than that 
of the French could be achieved, but for speed the Yankees went 
them one better, by mastering the difficult and dangerous, but 
speed-increasing method of loading on the recoil, which is held to 
account for the oft-encountered illusion of German officers that 
the Americans were using a 3-inch machine gun. The artillery of 
the 26th won high enconiums from the officers of all the Allied 
armies with which they fought, but best of all from their own 
infantry, whose saying was: "We'd charge into the jaws of Hell 
behind a barrage from our batteries." 

The engineering contingent, the 101st Engineers, gained en- 
during fame, not only for its specialized work, but for its fighting 
ability, as well. The deadly skill of the Machine Gun Battalions 
and the Trench Mortar Battery won for them their laurels. The 
Field Signal Battalion, ever alert and efficient, often under most 
difficult and hazardous conditions, rendered conspicuous service. 
The Ammunition Train, Supply Train and Sanitary Train func- 
tioned smoothly in the Divisional machine, often in spite of almost 
insuperable difficulties and grave peril. The Military Police 
were the pride of Gen. Edwards. Of the Ambulance Companies 
and Field Hospitals of the Division no praise could be too great. 
Noneombatants, in action they were always compelled to receive 
punishment and never permitted to retaliate. They had much 
work to do, and they did it well. 



8 YANKEE DIVISION 

ON TO CHEMIN-DES-DAMES 

Four solid months the training proceeded, until, at the request 
of Gen. Edwards, the 26th was moved up to Chemin-des-Dames, 
leaving camp about February 1, the infantry from Neufchateau, 
the artillery from Brittany. On the afternoon of February 5, the 
guns of Battery A, 101st Field Artillery, took position on the line, 
and at 3.45 o'clock one of its 75s barked forth for the Division the 
first shot fired by the National Guard in the war. The shell case is 
at the Massachusetts State House as a memento of that event. That 
night the 101st Infantry went through the artillery lines and was 
the first National Guard contingent to enter the trenches. There 
was plenty of fighting at Chemin-des-Dames, though none on a 
large scale. 

While on this sector the Yankee division was associated with 
the 11th French Army Corps and Gen. EdM^ards issued an order 
stating that he was pleased to consider the 11th Corps the god- 
father of the 26th Division. Gen. Maud Huy, commander of the 
11th, and after the Armistice made commander of the fortress of 
Metz, wrote in reply: ''The 11th corps feels proud of the marked 
honor, being sure that, wherever he may be sent, the godson shall 
do credit to the godfather." 

After 46 days at Chemin-des-Dames the Division entrained 
at Soisson under heavy shell fire, and proceeded to Rimaucourt, 
in Haute Marne, not a great distance from Neufchateau. Much of 
the journey from Soisson was over the road, and it was still winter, 
with almost continuously rainy weather and exceedingly muddy 
roads. But the Division was not unhappy, for a rest period was 
promised, and the men needed rest and a little play. They got 
neither. 

THE FORCED MARCH TO TOUL 
The great German drive of March 21 had just started, sweep- 
ing over the very positions that the 26th had just vacated, and 
which the Hun might not have taken quite so easily had the Y. D. 
been there to help their French comrades to receive him. The 
Division had hardly arrived at Rimaucourt when orders came to 
proceed to the Toul sector, to relieve a French division, which, it 
was understood, was needed to help stem the German advance. 
The Toul sector was comparatively quiet but vitally important. 
Good troops were required to hold it against the possibility of seri- 
ous attack. 

With scant warning the men started on a forced march, 
northward, through Neufchateau, 125 miles as the crow flies, and, 



YANKEE DIVISION 9 

of course, much longer by road. It rained and snowed steadily 
and was very cold. Every man from colonel to private was soaked 
to the skin, day and night, and some of the time there was no 
water to drink and food was not always plentiful. The sudden 
move of the Division was wholly unexpected, and preparations for 
supplying so large a body of troops could not be made on the in- 
stant. Everyone suffered a good deal from exposure, scanty diet 
and lack of sleep, for the marches were long. Many horses gave 
out under the strain. Mounted men walked to save their animals. 
But, strange to say, very few men were put on the sick list. They 
were too well conditioned. 

On the battle line north of Toul the Division took over a sector 
of 18 kilometers, the longest that has been held by an American 
division on the western front. The Huns gave them a warm wel- 
come; the arrival was marked by a terrific bombardment, which 
compelled a quick shifting of artillery positions, for the Germans 
in those days had a very capable lot of airplanes for observation 
purposes. There followed a long series of actions, some of them 
battles of considerable proportions. Of these were Bois Brule at 
Apremont and Seicheprey, the first real battles in which American 
troops were engaged. The 26th never failed; the Germans had 
their first real taste of the kind of fighters which the United States 
breeds and, when aroused, sends to war. Of the Yankee Division's 
record at Toul, Gen. Passaga stated in general orders: 

"At the moment when the 26th Division of the United States 
is leaving the 32d French Corps, I salute its colors and thank it for 
the splendid services it has rendered here to the common cause. 

"Under the distinguished command of their chief. Gen. 
Edwards, the high-spirited soldiers of the Yankee Division have 
taught the enemy some bitter lessons, at Bois Brule, at Seicheprey, 
at Xivray-Marvoisin ; they have taught him to realize the staunch 
vigor of the sons of the great republic, fighting for the world's 
freedom. 

"My heartiest good wishes will accompany the Yankee Divi- 
sion always in its future combats." 

CHATEAU-THIERRY 
Late in June the glorious word went about the regiments, 
"Rest billets a short distance from Paris," and the Division left 
Toul, traveling first over the road, then by train, in the usual 
cattle cars. The five months of trench warfare and battle and 
suffering were forgotten. They were going to Paris! The rumor 
was a fact, too; the orders were to take station at Panton and 



10 YANKEE DIVISION 

neighboring villages, in the suburbs of the French capital — so Gen. 
Edwards states. Furloughs were to be expected. But there was 
no rest for these war-worn soldiers. They did get to Panton, in 
sight of the Eiffel Tower, but never detrained. The trains reversed 
their direction, and proceeded back, eastward, to the Mame front 
at Chateau-Thierry. They were to relieve the 2d Division, includ- 
ing the Marines, which division at Bois Belleau had won immortal 
glory by breaking the impact of perhaps the most menacing of all 
the German drives. 

''THE SAVIORS OF PARIS" 
The world knows what the Yankee Division did at Chateau- 
Thierry ; how it earned from the French the name of ' ' Saviors of 
Paris," and from the famous Gen. Degoutte of the Sixth French 
Army the thrilling words : ' ' The 26th Division alone is responsible 
for the whole Allied advance on the Marne. They are shock troops, 
par excellence!" Sweet words these must have been to those 
brave soldier boys. 

The division took its position on July 9. It relieved the 2d 
Division, which had hurled back the German advance on the his- 
toric June 2. The 2d Division fought the first battle of Chateau- 
Thierry, the Yankee Division fought the second battle of Chateau- 
Thierry. The New England boys broke the final thrust of the last 
German drive, and their counter-attack was the initial impact of 
the series of giant blows which for four months kept the Hun 
reeling backward, until, beaten, he surrendered. 

When the 26th went into position at Vaux there was not even 
a territorial between it and Paris. The German armies were mass- 
ing for the fourth great drive of the series which started in March. 
The sector had been comparatively quiet, but almost immediately 
upon the arrival of the Y. D. the enemy artillery fire became in- 
tense : The Yankees had no trenches, nor shelters of any kind. 
The forest, including Belleau Woods, was shattered to pieces. 

On the 15th, following a bombardment which M^as described 
as more severe than the war had previously known, deluging thb 
Allied lines even to the rearmost positions with gas and high ex- 
plosives, the Germans struck in massed formation and in over- 
whelmingly superior numbers. The French were forced back 
across the Marne. 

THE Y. D. TURNS THE TIDE OF WAR 

The artillery of the 26th was placed with orders that an attack 
in force against their positions was inevitable ; that they must meet 
the onslaught with the most intense fire possible and keep firing 



YANKEE DIVISION 11 

until about to be engulfed in the advancing masses, then blow up 
their guns and retreat. The attack did not come on the moment, 
as expected, but finally a dense body of Germans was discerned 
preparing to attack. Before the Huns had fairly started the guns 
of the 101st and 102d F. A., aiming with open sights at 2000 yards, 
began a drumfire of such ferocity and accuracy that the enemy 
was thrown into complete confusion. It was the expiring effort 
of the Hun ; at that moment the tide turned, and then the gallant 
infantry of the 26th went over the top and at them. That was on 
the 18th of July. From that instant to the 25th the Yankee Divi- 
sion chased the Hun northward, licking him time and again. 

As Gen. Edwards stated in general orders : 

"In those eight days you carried your line as far as any part 
of the advance was carried. Torcy, Belleau, Givry, the Bouresches 
Woods, Rochet Woods, Hill 190 overlooking Chateau-Thierry, 
Etrepilly, Epieds, Trugny, and finally La Fere Woods and the 
objective, the Jaulgonne-Fere-en-Tardenois Road, belong to your 
arms. ' ' 

And this fighting was against the picked troops of the German 
army, the famous Prussian Guards and the Bavarians. They could 
not withstand the doughboys from New England. No troops could 
have withstood them. They suffered heavy losses but they kept 
going. At times the artillery, racing after, could hardly keep up 
with them. 

On the 25th the Rainbow Division went through the infantry 
of the Y. D., who had done their stunt. But artillery can fight 
longer than infantry; they don't have to work so hard. And the 
New England artillerymen went right on fighting, for their guns 
were needed for clearing out German machine gun nests by the 
simple process of shelling. When the Rainbow infantry went out 
the guns of the 26th kept on with the 4th Division of regulars, and 
in an interim with a French division, until they were overlooking 
the Vesle River at Fismes, and were sweeping the German positions 
on the plateau beyond. The artillery had fought so far that it 
took them two days to get back to the Marne where they arrived 
August 8. 

Gen. Degoutte, commander of the 5th French Army, issuetl 
general orders in which he said : 

"The operations carried out by the 26th American Division 
from July 18th to July 24th, demonstrated the fine soldierly quali- 
ties of this unit and of its leader, Gen. Edwards. 

"Co-operating in the attack north of the Marne, the 26th 
Division fought brilliantly on the line Torcy-Belleau, at Monthiers, 



12 YANKEE DIVISION 

Epieds and Trugny and in the forest of Fere, advancing more than 
15 kilometres in depth in spite of the desperate resistance of 
the enemy. 

"I take great pleasure in communicating to Gen. Edwards 
and his valiant Division this expression of my great esteem, to- 
gether with my heartiest congratulations for the manner in which 
they have served the common cause. I could not have done better 
in a similar occasion with my best troops." 

THE BITTER CUP OF DISAPPOINTMENT 
The division had done its share, and much more, in the Second 
Battle of the Marne, and the men went into camp in the little 
villages of the Marne valley, for they were tired, fagged out lads 
when they left the battlefield, and their horses were in pitiable 
shape, those that had survived the terrible strain of the battle. 
Then the regiments moved to the vicinity of Chatillon, on the 
headwaters of the Seine. First in pup tents, then in billets in the 
villages, the boys rested a little while, in preparation for their fur- 
loughs, promised twice before, and of necessity withheld. It was a 
jubilant camp for each man was to have seven days all his own, 
away from exacting commanders. But again there was the slip 
twixt cup and lip. Imperative orders arrived to proceed to the 
front again. Furloughs were cancelled, the soldiers said ' ' C 'est la 
Guerre," and the 26th started on its way to take a vital part in 
the sudden snapping off of the St. Mihiel salient. 

ST. MIHIEL 

The preparations for this campaign were conducted with the 
utmost possible secrecy. The last stages of the advance were made 
entirely at night. It rained night and day. In the long dark 
hours of the northern autumn the companies and batteries plodded 
along in the rain, freezing cold, sometimes hungry, for in active 
warfare there must be at times long gaps between meals ; and for- 
bidden to smoke, because of the betraying lights. And when each 
day dawned and men slept, somewhere, anywhere, wrapped in 
soggy wot blankets. Finally they were in the forest on the western 
side of the salient where in 1915, 30,000 French soldiers laid down 
their lives in stemming the German tide, which in its onrush en- 
gulfed 15 French divisions. 

Troyon, as the French called it, the New England Sector, as 
the 26th called it, is about half way between St. Mihiel and Verdun, 
on the heights of the Meuse, and was regarded as the most difficult 
section of the line of attack which eliminated the salient. After 
an artillery bombardment of almost unprecedented ferocity the 



YANKEE DIVISION 13 

Division went over the top on Sept. 12, and in 24 hours the salient 
had ceased to exist and the 26th had its full share of the vast 
numbers of prisoners and enormous booty which fell to the Amerl- 
can army. 

The Yanks at St. Mihiel took 2400 prisoners, many cannon, 
much ammunition and stores of every kind; released hundreds of 
civilian prisoners and occupied a score and more of towns to the 
great delight of the inhabitants. The gratitude of the liberated 
people is expressed in the letter from the Catholic priest of 
Eupt-en-Woevre after the boys had gone in there and the Huns 
were on the run, in which he says : 

"Sir, your gallant 26th American Division has just set us 
free. Since September, 1914, the barbarians have held the heights 
of the Meuse, have murdered three hostages in Mouilly, have 
shelled Eupt, and on July 23, 1915, forced its inhabitants to scatter 
to the four corners of France. I, who remain at my little listening 
post upon the advice of my bishop, feel certain, sir, that I do but 
speak for Monsigneur Ginisty, Lord Bishop of Verdun, my parish- 
ioners of Eupt, Mouilly and Genicourt and the people of this vi- 
cinity, in conveying to you and your associates the heartfelt and 
unforgetable gratitude of all. 

"Several of your comrades lie at rest in our truly Christian 
and French soil. Their ashes shall be cared for as if they were 
our own. We shall cover their graves with flowers and shall kneel 
by them as their own families would do with a prayer to God to 
reward with eternal glory these heroes fallen on the field of honor 
and to bless the 26th Division and generous Americans. 

"Be pleased, sir, to accept the expression of my profound 
respect. 

"A. Leclerc." 

THE BATTLES OF THE MEUSE 

Following St. Mihiel the 26th had little rest, and what it had 
was under shellfire. On September 25 the New England boys 
were in the thick of the fighting again, and they stayed in the 
thick of it until the clock struck 11 on November 11. Their first 
task was to create a diversion, in conjunction with French unit&, 
the purpose being to befog the enemy as to Gen. Foch's real in- 
tentions in this general section of the battleline and to keep as 
many German divisions as possible away from the sectors where 
the great American drive was to be staged. 

So the Yankee Division and their French comrades made a 
feint in the vicinity of Dommartin, out on the plain of the Woevre. 
The action of September 25, the day before the 1st Army started on 



14 YANKEE DIVISION 

its victorious drive northwest of Verdun, was a battle of a magni- 
tude which would have attracted world-wide attention had it not 
been coincident with bigger doings on other parts of the French- 
Belgian front. Harassing attacks were carried on for some days. 

Then the Germans began massing troops to stay the north- 
ward rush of the American army west of the Meuse, and the 
Yankee Division was ordered to the region of Siviy-sur-Meuse, 15 
miles north of Verdun and just east of the river, where it arrived 
October 8, and two days later took over the sector from the 18th 
French Division and a part of the American 29th. The fighting 
there was serious enough, but it was child's play, as was all the 
fighting that preceded it, when compared to what was to follow. 

The Division set out from Sivry October 21, advancing south- 
east through a hill and valley country, covered with what once 
Jiad been forest but now reduced to a wilderness of scraggly 
chunks of trees which rose from a honeycomb of shellholes ; a 
ghastly waste which includes the German point of departure for 
their drive against Verdun in which they sacrificed more than half 
a million of men. Bois Belleu, Hill 360, Bois d'Ormont, Bois 
Haumont, Bois d'Etrayes, Les Houppy Bois, La Wavrille, Bois de 
Ville devant Chanmont, Cote de Talon are names that will live for 
ever in the battle records of the Yankee Division. 

THE BLOODY CLOSING DAYS 

On November 7 opened that phase of the battle which can 
never be remembered without a shudder and a tear. In the four 
short days of war that remained before the last shot was fired, 
there fell thousands of the splendid lads of the 26th, killed and 
vvounded. Swinging sharply from southeast due east the regi- 
ments headed straight for the Briey coal fields. Here, near Belleu 
"Woods, the Division was the pivot of the attacking armies, just as 
it had been the pivot at the Belleau Woods of Chateau Thierry. 

This time it was the Hun who cried, ''They shall not pass!" 
But the Yankee boys did pass. Division after division the German 
commanders threw into the battle, the best troops they had, in 
desperate effort to check the onrush of the irresistible 26th. The 
odds were all against the Americans. They went forward against 
thousands of machine guns, massed artillery of every calibre, a 
numerical superiority of infantry, carefully prepared defenses. 
The Briey coal fields must be saved, whatever the cost. Germany 
could not endure without them. But the Yankees carried on 
surely, relentlessly. 

They sustained a shellfire that no soldier present had seen 
♦■>qualled. From the time they left Sivry they were under con- 



YANKEE DIVISION 15 

tinuous savage cannonading. But the climax of war was reached 
between Bois d'Ormont and Bois Belleu where a bombardment 
of indescribable ferocity raged for two days. The forward lines 
and gun positions were deluged with " high explosives combined 
with gas. The ravines behind were filled with gas, and kept filled. 
The woods were literally hidden in the clouds of mud and dirt 
thrown up by high explosive shells. An inspection of the terri- 
tory by officers following the armistice proved that not even the 
many months of intensive shelling of Douaumont, in front of 
Verdun, had wrought so complete a destruction as that of the few 
days at Belleu and d'Ormont, while the brave men of the 26th 
were there. 

There were Hellish frontal charges, in jungles of trees and 
barb wire entanglements, through hurricanes of shrapnel, into the 
muzzles of thousands of machine guns. Four days this continued. 
Each day won a mile. The cost was terrible. In those hideous 
hours the division lost thousands and thousands of men. Those 
others of whom neither shell nor bullet, grenade nor gas had taken 
toll were almost dead with fatigue and lack of sleep and intolerable 
nerve strain and hunger and filth. It was thus that the Yankee 
Division completed "doing its bit." 

Gen. Bamford, on November 18, the day he was relieved of 
his command, issued the following order: 

"Officers and enlisted mea of the 26th Division, I congratulate 
you upon your success in the war which has been fought to a 
victorious end. 

"From your entry into the battle line on Feb. 5, 1918, at 
Chemin-des-Dames, as a division of recruits, until the cessation of 
hostilities on the 11th of November, 1918, when you laid down 
your arms fighting in the front line as a veteran division, you have 
shown yourselves worthy sons of the country that gave you birth. 
"Bois Brule, Xivray-Marvoisin, Torcy, Belleau, Givry, Bour- 
escres, Hill 190, Epieds, Trugny, St. Miliiel salient, Bois d'Hau- 
mont, Bois Belleu, Bois d'Ormont, Bois de Ville, are indelibly 
v/ritten on your banners. ' ' 

And so the Army of Occupation marched away, without the 
26th Division. Certainly that army would not be on German soil 
today had it not been for the patriotic, self-sacrificing men, who, at 
the drop of the hat, when the United States went to war, hurried to 
the recruiting ofl'ices and offered themselves to Uncle Sam for his 
army. They went earlj- and therefore were trained early and 
because they were ready, stepped into the breach whenever there 
was a breach, until the days when they themselves made the 
breaches. The 26th Division, as much as any division serving in 



16 YANKEE DIVISION 

any army in all the war, had full share in bringing the German 
beast, crawling and whining, praying for mercy and peace. 

It was fitting that the Yankee Division should celebrate, as 
it did, the announcement of the armistice in the ruined city of 
Verdun, around which are buried half a million soldiers — the city 
which symbolizes for France the sacrifice and the victory. 

26th division 

51st Brigade of Infantry. 

101st Regiment of Infantry. 

102d Regiment of Infantry. 

102d Machine Gun Battalion. 
52d Brigade of Infantry. 

103d Regiment of Infantry. 

104th Regiment of Infantry. 

103d Machine Gun Battalion, 
51st Brigade of Field Artillery. 

lOJst Regiment of Field Artillery. 

102d Regiment of Field Artillery. 

103d Regiment of Field Artillery. (Heavy) 

101st Trench Mortar Battery. 
Engineer Corps. 

101st Regiment of Engineers. 
Signal Troops. 

101st Field Signal Battalion. 
Divisional Units. 

26th Division Headquarters Troop. 

Headquarters Train and Military Police. 

101st Machine Gun Battalion. 

101st Ammunition Train. 

101st Supply Train. 

101st Sanitary Train. 
Ambulance Corps. 

101st Ambulance Company. 

102d Ambulance Company. 

103d Ambulance Company. 

104th Ambulance Company. 
Hospital Corps. 

101st Field Hospital. 

102d Field Hospital. 

103d Field Hospital. 

104th Field Hospital.