The History of New York State
Book XI, Chapter 9, Part 1

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

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CHAPTER IX
THE FORTY-SECOND (RAINBOW) DIVISION OF THE AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES IN FRANCE.

Although the Rainbow Division cannot be claimed as wholly of New York, there is no doubt that the Empire State figures quite positively in its history. When it is pointed out that a whole regiment of irrepressible Irish-Americans of New York City came into the personnel of the 42nd division, one may be sure that New York City was not long in making its presence known and felt.

When the Untied States became involved in the World War, it was not commonly thought that she would be called upon to supply much manpower--at lest, not for military organizations. Its immense resources, in manpower and materials, would, it was thought, be better utilized in industrial effort--to supply the fighting nations with the means and the material with which to fight. But, as soon as became obvious, of all the materials needed in fighting the most essential is the human. And of manpower, the French and the British Nations had been bled almost white before America came into the struggle. Germany and her allies also, of course, had been severely bled by the sanguinary fighting of the three years of the bloodiest war of all times; but at the outset of our part in it, our Government did not seem to be fully aware that the soldiery of the allies had become much weaker than that of the Central Powers. Like Britain, when she sent Kitchener's "contemptible little army" to France in 1914, the United States apparently imagined that only courtesy called for the presence in France of a small contingent of American soldiers. We should send a small expeditionary force overseas, if only to encourage the fighting forces of our Allies, it was thought. Even the most fanciful or belligerent Yankee, however, did not imagine that America's organized army would eventually be counted in millions of men.

Sot he Government pursued its plans to organize a small expeditionary force. Naturally, the War Department looked first toward the units of the Regular Army. General Perishing, who was to command the American Expeditionary Forces, in France, crossed to England, with his staff, in early June, 1917, and soon proceeded to France. later in the same month, the first contingent of the American Army landed in the theatre of war. Pershing might then have said: "Lafayette! We are here!"--though it is doubted if he did--but he would be merely voicing the sentimental courteous reason for our presence, not the positive conviction that American soldiers were vitally needed in France.

Ere long, enough regular soldiers were in France to enable General

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Pershing to complete a regular division--the First. Next, out of compliment to the States that make up the United States, it was resolved to supplement this regular division of the State troops of the citizen soldiery commonly known as the National Guard. M Historical significance prompted the to look first to New England. Pershing had been forced to recognize that the need of American troops in France was becoming more and more imperative, and, as national Guard Divisions had been under his command on the Mexican Border and had gained his confidence as efficient military organizations, he had recommended that National Guard divisions be alternated with Regular divisions, in the name of the Pilgrims who land at Cape Cod and of the founders of Jamestown, the first National Guard Division which was to participate in the Odyssey of America in Europe ought to come from either New England or Virginia. By the same token, it seemed proper that the next division of former Guardsmen sent to France should represent the whole country."

It happened so. The New England, or "Yankee," Division, officially designated the twenty-sixth, began to leave their home armories in the spring of 1917. In September, 1917, they began to arrive in Lorraine. They did not forget that their regiments, though now bearing strange numbers, 101st, 102d, 103d, and 104th and officially recognized as the United States Army, were organizations of historic past, with regimental colors that testified to glorious achievements in other wars, their rolls of honor reaching back even to the days of the Revolution. With such a heritage, the New England guardsmen could hold their heads high even they knew what was muttered of them--not absolutely "under the breath" either-- by the disdainful Regulars; that they were "tin soldiers," amateurs who looked "pretty good' in their "regulation" outfits. But who could get very far on "hard tack." And it must be confessed that there were certain critics, in the United States as well as in France at that time, who 'let it be known that nobody expected much from the National Guard." As a matter of fact, in physique, intelligence and fighting qualities, the Yankee Division was not excelled by any American military organization that crossed the seas. The writer was in a New England city in the spring and summer of 1917. And, while people thronged the streets, crowding around the bulletin boards in front of the newspaper offices and breathlessly noting the Selective Draft numbers as they appeared, a contingent of the Yankee division was cheerily preparing to leave for mobilization camp. So light and carefree were these clean cut young Americans that one would have thought they were picnic-bound rather then preparing to embark upon treacherous waters infested by submarines and bound for an inferno into the mouth of which millions

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of men ad been poured, to endure tortures well-nigh inconceivable. Eighteen months later, the writer was destined to see the Yankee Division again, after they has passed through the scorching fire. If an exhilarating thrill had possessed him when he has seen these fearless young men depart, a much greater thrill filled him now, as he saw these upstanding weather-tanned and hardened veterans of the Yankee Division trail down the long hill to the harbor at Brest, homeward bound. It was quite obvious then that , although some of the may have "played in their soldiering" in National guard activities of peacetime, they had shown that in them was the grit, the stamina and the courage demanded, if not expected, of them when the serious call to arms came. In the wet French climate, they had looked somewhat limp when they began their French experience; but the had weathered through to glorious, vigorous manhood, making as excellent fighting material as any that the Regular Army could show. They had the characteristic New England sturdiness to begin with. As Palmer wrote: ". . . . the New Englanders, in their moist overcasts, with water dripping from the rims of the rumpled campaign hats, did not look like dress parade, only ducks would in the Lorraine weather," But "something that the Lorraine weather could not change was the physique under the overcoats."

Of the same encouraging standard were the men of the Next National Guard Division that was organized for overseas service. For certain political and sentimental reason, it was, however, decided to select them from a wider field. Indeed, the 42nd division was to be representative of all of the States, not only the rockbound New England. As New York State is not an inconsequential political district of the Untied States, it was resolved to let her provide one of the four National guard regiments that were to constitute the new Rainbow Division. It was a happy thought. "The idea of an all-American division touched the chord of popular sentiment; its name had the appeal of romance, in keeping with the crusade of armed men to a distant land."

The only military organization that did not take kindly to the new plan was the National Guard Division of New York, the Twenty-seventh. In July, 1917, when the New York Division was being prepared for mobilization and departure to a training camp in South Carolina, its commander received orders to transfer its most active regiment, the famous Sixty-ninth, to the Rainbow Division. To be suddenly shorn of its crack unit was injury enough, but to have the four regiments of the Twenty-seventh cut to pieces merely to complete the establishment of another division of later designation and no history was humiliation intolerable. The morale of the Twenty-seventh was dangerously lowered when the War Department ordered n a raid upon all of the other regiments of the division, and the purloining of one-third of the enlisted personnel of each, so that the 69th Regiment, which had already been transferred to the

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Rainbow Division, might be brought to war strength. However, it was wartime, and arguments were of no avail.

The order stood.

It was not at that time positively known that any of the National Guard divisions would be sent to France. So, ina week or two, the 27th division recovered its shaken morale and made good the loss of its Irish-American regiment by giving the place of the latter to another historic unit, the 14th new York Regiment. but when, in the middle of August it became publicly known that the 42nd Division had to all intents been given service-seniority over the 27th, by being selected for immediate dispatch overseas, the New York guardsmen began to experience a recurrence of the resentment they had had against the Rainbow Division. This did not, however, bring any change in the order of precedence, and the 42nd Division skipped ahead of the 27th, following the 26th overseas.

By the time the Rainbow Division reached "sunny France,' the men from New England had become tolerably used to its drizzle and its mud and its damp chilliness. "No rainbows welcomed the Rainbow Division to its area." Writes Palmer, "sun is required to make a rainbow. After all that they had heard about 'sunny France,' what our men saw of France that winter made them ready to believe that there were not nuts in Brazil and no spices in Java." In the "mist-ridden and rain-splashed valleys behind the Vosges," the Irish-Americans of the old 69th, now the 165th, "had particular reasons for losing their faith in all that the guide books said about foreign parts." The Lorraine winter miserably sold, not "honest cold," such as we get in the Northern States and in Canada. The bracing American climate when the thermometer registers zero may freeze the ear-tips while warming the spring and bringing a glow to the cheek; but the chilly dampness of the native province of Joanne D'Arc is apt to send shivering darts through the spine of even the warmest -clad American. The Rainbow Division went to France with credentials high enough to bring a warming thrill of pride to even the most phlegmatic of its members. They were the pick of all America. Yet, what comfort could this bring to a bedraggled, shivering mortal? "Fame did not bring steam heat to the barn lofts" where the American slept. They found it "only natural' to believe that Joan of Arc should come from Lorraine; " she was bred in fortitude by the climate." But had she been of such a "warm weather people" as steam heat makes of Americans, she may have realized that there was some excuse for the Americans who slashed the beautiful forests of France for firewood. "the idea that war was without hardships in France was a paradox to men who would have preferred sleeping in tents in Alaska. . . .to sleeping in fireless rooms in France."

These were some of the first experiences and thoughts of the men from America. They were not those only of the 42nd, for all American who went to France had to live through the chill that froze the marrow,

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but was barely able to register frost on the thermometer. In time, the doughboys became hardened to the climate, just as they became accustomed to the deafening din of artillery, and to the irritating presence of "cooties." One can adjust one's self to almost any state of living. Custom provides its own psychology, and habit adjusts itself to circumstances. The loving Italian peasant woman who sews her children up for the winter in warn woolen undergarments find, in the spring when she takes the stitches out, that her children have weathered the winter tolerably well with a bath; and Americans who had been accustomed to a daily bath found, in France, that they could endure trench life for week or a month without a bath or a change of underwear. One piece of apparel that the doughboys could not endure was the campaign hat, which always seemed to be in the way when not serving as an umbrella. The overseas cap came to reduce the discomforts of the men of the Rainbow Division, and the long overcoats were shorn of their last foot of rain-soaked drapery.

Of course, all American troops, regular and guard, were looked upon a novices upon arrival in France. Most of them had to undergo long periods of special training, under French or British officers. It was not until October, 1917, that the First American division, which had arrived in June, was permitted to enter the front-line in a quiet sector. The first American dead--a corporal and two privates--were buried at Bathlemont on November 4, 1917, with impressive ceremony, the French resolving to erect over that spot as tone inscribed; "Here lie the first soldiers of the United States to fall on the soil of France for justice and liberty." In the name of France, a French general thanked the deceased, Corporal Gresham, and Privates Enright and Hay. They wanted to "come back" at the Huns for that trench raid, but they were not permitted to. In the eyes of their military foster-parents, the French, the tough regulars of America's First Division were still school boys. Their own opinion did not coincide, of course. Certainly, they were emphatically "grown up" in their expressions. Indeed, some of their words were mot intended for the ears of their chaplains. Still there was some justification for the impulse that came to the men of the First Division--regular soldiers, not amateurs, mark you--to "kick over the traces." They argued: "Here you have drilled for four months, and then you stand around these muddy trenches and the German slaps you in the face and you are not allowed to hit back! Were we only going to play backstop? Were we ever going to have a change to hit?" Nevertheless, in the eyes of veterans and experts, they were still undergraduates in the School of Modern Warfare, and until they had graduated their instructors would not gibe them free rein.

The schooling of some of the Second division of Regulars, and that

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Of the two pioneer Guard divisions, the 26th and 42nd, was upon the same plan as that endured by the 1st. the 26th, after preparatory training, went with the French into the Chemin des Dames sector in Champagne, where they had some thrilling and sensational experiences, and manifested remarkable aptitude as soldiers.

Afterwards, the Yankee division was sent to relieve the 1st in the Toul sector. This did not seem to be a promotion for the 26th, although the Toul sector was not by any means a harmless one.

The Yankee division was now nearer to the men of the Rainbow. It must be admitted that the all-Americans were somewhat jealous of the New Englanders. The all-Americans, the 42nd, had actually been told that they would have to work hard if they were "to live up to the standard that the 26th had set." This did not rest heavily upon then, as Palmer shows. For a few paragraphs, let Major Palmer's interesting narrative be given. He writes:

The Forty-second had heard all the praise of the Twenty-sixth with the serene consciousness that the twenty-sixth was undoubtedly a very good division as it was from the Untied States; but it was provisional, while there was only one Forty-second, which as none other than the Rainbow Division. When you have a regiment from New York City, mostly Irish-American, and one from Alabama, with the other two from Iowa and Ohio, and artillery from Illinois, and machine gunners from Georgia, all in one fold, a staff which shepherds the whole in team play need not excite the spirit of competition. As to which was the best regiment of the four, do not ask the division staff, which thought that all belonged to the best division. But a member of the Ohio regiment would give you an answer gladly without waiting a second for consideration; and so would a member of the Iowa, the New York, or the Alabama regiments.

The question of whether the chaplain of the New York or of the Alabama regiment was the more militant is not for an outsider to decide. They do say that when the Alabama chaplain talked to the men before their big raid in order to incite them to action worthy of the regiment's tradition in the civil War, he used a swear-word or two. The colonel, whose evidence we must accept as purely official, insists that as the words are to be found in the gospel and were used purely in the line of duty, they were free from any of the association of profanity which would have characterized them if they had been used by a private when he was chasing a German along a trench.

Going into the quiet Lunéville sector, the Forty-second had more freedom of action then the Twenty-sixth had had; in fact, it soon had the sector under its own command. The sector did not remain quiet, because the Forty-second did not see any reason why the Germans should continue to control in No Man's Land. the Forty-second was in France to make war, and it made war by starting raids immediately. If the Germans interfered by machine gun-fire--why, charge the machine guns! .Prisoners were wanted for identification, and the Forty-second took prisoners, rounding up German patrols in the night and generally breaking up the tranquil existence of that part of the line. Raids became almost as popular as going for the mail to a country post office. Everybody must have part in one, and when a raid carried through to the second German line, without finding any Germans, there was severe disappointment, as in order to fight you must have someone to fight against. Individual tacticians, talking the matter over in the trenches, said that if they were only given a change for a big attack they would make trouble enough to force Hindenburg to bring over some of the divisions concentrated for this offensive in the west in order to restore a broken line in Lorraine.

. . . . . Our artillery did not lack practice, particularly on that occasion when we

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prepared for a raid so thoroughly that only a town German coat was found on the position when the infantry arrived. For every shell the Germans sent we sent two shells in return. This was characteristic of the whole system of the Rainbows. They were out for mastery over the enemy at every point, which indicates, through the medium of the Rainbows, that when we do go to was we do not think in defensive terms.

"I reckon folks will learn, she, that we ain't scairt of the Hun," a man from Georgia mountains said.

Such was the Rainbow's record that the wise men at headquarters were saying that it was a question if the Forty-second would not prove itself just as good as the First--though the wise men did not want any division to run away with the notion that it did not have a lot to learn yet. The Forty-second was marching back to its rest area when the German offensive of march 21 required that I retrace its steps to the trenches, where it remained for another three months, thus relieving French divisions for other work, before it had its turn in the big battle.

The Rainbow units has to take their lot as patiently as they could during the thrilling days of May-June, while the Regulars at Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood were demonstrating that Americans could stand up well even against shock troops. But there was hope for them in the great American troop movement of that month. We now had more than a million men in France. Surely, the Rainbow Division must soon be called upon for violent-sector duty, if only to provide a quiet sector for the trench-training of a greener division. Furthermore, there were indication that the German were concentrating divisions and munitions for anther great offensive, perhaps, two. It seemed possible that they would strike simultaneously in the British area and at the French in the Champagne. The French High command early decided that the German attack would fall in Champagne, from east of Rheims to the region of Chateau Thierry. And even some of the military men who were not of the general staffs had an idea three or more days in advance that the attack would begin on July 15. It was recognized that the blow would develop terrific force, so plans to meet it were accordingly made. American divisions figured importantly in those plans. Palmer writes:

Units of American divisions were now to face the full power of the Germany Army in an attack. Experts, who had not questioned our vigor inoffensive action, might wonder if we were yet hardened enough to withstand such an infernal artillery preparation, and to repulse such masses of infantry under its support as had broken through Allied trench systems on March 21 and May 27.

The part that we were to play, in sheer weight of numbers, during the fourth German offensive and in the counter-offensive which followed, was significant of our growing power. Without counting freshly arrived divisions or divisions in reserve which could be summoned for emergency, we had on July 15 over 300,000 men either in sectors on the Marne front or in immediate support. The Germans had tested at Cantigny and Vaux and in Belleau Wood the mettle of our trained divisors; he was now to test the mettle of some which we did not regard as trained. His information gained about us at first hand on July 15 must have forever dissipated his dream of forcing such a break in the allied front that our numbers would be beaten in detail, owing to want of cohesion and training in the arriving American divisions which were not yet organized as an army.

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On July 15, the Forty-second Division was in champagne, near Perthes, with four and a half battalions in an intermediate position. the name of Perthes summons up recollections of the first two years of the war when it had been the synonym of bitter and continued fighting. All the region was battle scarred; it was associated with some memory of severe trench experience in the minds of French veterans.

The Forty-second was not long out of the Baccarat sector, where it maintained such a mastery over the enemy as became the Rainbow Division. Its artillery was well trained; its organization running smoothly; its espirit de corps unsurpassed. There was nothing a comparatively quiet sector--aroused to activity by American initiative--could afford which it had not endured, including heavy gassing and intense artillery preparations for enemy raids; but that is a different thing from having concentrated within a few hours more casualties than it had suffered in two months at Baccarat. The French staff has looked the Forty-second over and believed in it enough to issue an order that if the enemy broke through in the Perthes sector, Major-General Menoher, of the Forty-second, was to take command of both French and American infantry and artillery in the sector. Practically, then, the final defense would be with us, and we might consider for our edification the fact that each of the four German offensives had overwhelmed nearly all the front-line positions attacked. There was responsibility for you, Iowa! Ohio! New York! Alabama! California! Illinois! Maryland! And al the other States represented in the Forty-second.

The Frankenstein of German prestige did not in the slightest depress the Rainbows. There had come to them the opportunity to play their part as the British and French played it in the first battle of Ypres, when there were no gas shells and artillery concentrations were comparatively mild. Have you gas-masks ready. Every man in his place, whether in a dugout or on the death watch--and let the Germans come!

Our Forty-second had taken its resolution. It was going to stick. It must, being the Forty-second. The men had reasoned our the situation, too. If they fell back, why it would be just as bad to be taken from behind by machine-gun shells as it would be to face them. This was a "dig-in" affair; they dug hard and strengthened their parapets. It would never be said that the Rainbow division had been routed. The dramatic element of time suspense, which men know before they go over the top, was in this instance that of waiting for the bomb that was sizzling at your feet to burst.

The German artillery preparation was thorough and deep. Every village in the back area, every cross-road and every road leading to the front were shelled. The Germans had not been gathering ammunition for weeks and working out their elaborate plans of attack with a view of neglecting any possible detail of destruction and interdiction. They were particularly prodigal with heavy shells which break in trench walls and dugouts. Paths and woods we well as battery positions were saturated with gas. German aeroplanes swept low, dropping bombs and taking roads with machine gun-fire. the orbit of every man's mind under this terrible shower of projectile carried the one thought of doing what he was told until he was hit.

German confidence was set against our resolution. The Germans thought of themselves as The Irresistible Movement. We though of ourselves as The Immovable Object. What the Germans had done they had good reason to think that they would do again. they must! There were their orders and their marching schedule after their break through, which required them to be Epernay and Chalons at given hours.

Only they did not know the difference between May 27 and July 15. This time the allies were ready for them; the enemy could not have the "jump" on us. We answered German artillery blasts with our artillery blasts. Out 75's were drumming out barrages into their advancing infantry. Out 155's were pounding their batteries, their roads, their supports. The hell on the morning of July 15 raged more fiercely than that of May 27, because it was not one-sided. The Germans, filled with the idea of their invincibility, were required only to come on again and again. following their elastic system, the

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French fell back in places; and we, in our intermediate position, became no longer intermediate. One of out battalions broke six successive counter-attacks with steady rifle and machine gun-fire. other companies were sent forward to assist those already engaged until we have five a half companies where no brave man could be spared. Two of our companies and two French companies went over the top together against the Germans driving them back on their reserves, and scotching their initiative. Our guns had the satisfaction of firing pointblank at another time into the German infantry and artillery. The only point where the enemy every penetrated our positions was in some woods into which he filtered his machine gun units, but he did not reach our second line. When we had looked after more pressing affairs we turned the attention of our guns and machine guns to this quarter with the desired results.

What news! The Germans had been stopped in Champagne; and the Forty-second had helped the French in the achievement . . . . there was no flinching on the part of our men. Wounded artillerymen in their gas masks continued serving their guns; infantrymen, knocked down and bruised by shells, picked up their rifles again and continued firing. The busy ambulances went and came from their stations mindless of shell-fire, Everybody seemed to have done his part in that grimmest and most trying of all battle experiences, in making a wall of human flesh and will against waves of an attacking infantry supported by all the storms of death that modern projectiles can offer.

On the same day companies of the 28th (Pennsylvania) division that were in position neat Dormans, where the Germans had maintained their lodgment across the Marne, fought so valiantly against the German tidal wave that came upon them that Palmer Writes: "Nothing more dramatic had happened in the annals of the A. E. F., thus far than the experience of these four companies." Again, the 3d Division, whose motorized machine-gun battalion had so opportunely and dramatically held the bridge at Chateau Thierry against the May offensive, came most gloriously into the record of the stubborn and successful effort made to stop and throw back this major offensive--the last that the Germans were destined to launch. Unlike most of the other American divisions, the 3d division was preeminently one "that was sent into action instead of the class-room to complete its education. it was self-educated in the school of battle. It learned how to fight by fighting," not because of difference of opinion among military experts as to which is the better method of making soldiers, but by the force of compelling circumstances. But certainly, these novices in European warfare proved at Chateau Thierry that optimism and initiative sometimes outweigh technical knowledge; and here in the July offensive the Third Division demonstrated, as the marines had in May, that deliberate accurate aim with rifle and machine-gun can confute some of the most confidently accepted principle of the German book of tactics. The Third division units were placed in the neighborhood of the village of Mezy, covering the river banks at a spot where it was to the advantage of the Germans to attempt to cross. When the German crossing parties were on the way to the river bank, the German artillery concentrated such a heavy bombardment upon the lines of the 3d Division that the German tacticians logically thought out men would be so preoccupied in hugging their rifle-

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pits that the crossing would be to all intents unopposed. But the unschooled men of the 3d division "were too keen on getting a chance at a target not to expose themselves in the midst of the bursting shells." Furthermore, common sense convinced them that "the place to stop the Germans was on the river." With Germans packed in dense masses--twenty to a boat--the target was not difficult to hit by men taking deliberate aim at almost point-blank range. Not a boat crossed at that point. Vital German plans went awry as a result of these unclassified tactics of the 3d Division. Instead of finding themselves flanked by supporting German units, advancing regiments found, to their detriment, that hotheaded Americans were on their flank; and the German command looked in vain for signals which would announce that "its troops were well on their way to Montmirail by noon of July 15th in keeping with their schedule." The American unit-commanders could not learn he elastic method of the French defense. They preferred to stick and fight it out--to the death, if need be. Indeed, those were the orders to Colonel McAlexander of the 38th Infantry, a 3d division unit. This regiment had an all-important role. If its lines had broken if they had not held their positions, the regiment would have been surrounded, overwhelmed, and the whole system of defense jeopardized. Upon what seemingly small details hang the destinies of nations.

It must not be inferred that the last great offensive of the Germans was thrown back only by the superhuman efforts and outstanding valor of American troops. French, British and Italian forces were also in the fighting. All were needed to form the buttress strong enough to counter the thrust of the hitherto mightiest fighting machine on earth. And, as wee have seen, all the credit for the American part in the Supreme effort does not come to the division in which New York was so closely interested--the 42nd. Nine American divisions were in position, or in support at that time of extreme tension. Nevertheless, there was glory enough in the doings of the old 69th Regiment in July, 1918, to make the premier city of the United /states feel proud of its progeny.

General Gourand, who was in supreme command of the operations of the French and Americans in the Rheims sector, very closely watched the death struggle through the terrible days o July 15, 16, and 17, had a premonition that an even more terrible attack would be made upon the line of the Rainbow and supporting French divisions, and although he had tried to steel them on the evening of the 17th by issuing an order which read in part: "the strong and brave hearts of free men beat in your breast. None will look behind, none will give way. Every man will have but one though--'kill them, kill them in abundance, until they have had enough'," he had had grave doubts of being able to hold the line. He had indeed made elaborate preparations to withdraw to high ground about two or three miles southward. He had thought that this would have been the outcome of the first day of fighting. Instead, he

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had seen wave after wave of the vaunted Prussian Guards melt before our guns. At the end of the third day he had seen that the Rainbow division still held the same position. he had indeed seen so much that he had not quite expected to find in the men from the region of subways and skyscrapers that, at last, when the tension was less, when they had begun to realize that the Germans had "shot their bolt," he threw up his hands and jokingly said: "There doesn’t seem to be anything to do but to let the war be fought out where the New York Irish and the Alabamans want to fight it."

There were humorous incidents even though when the wrath of mars seemed so intense hat nothing could survive her fury. There was keen rivalry between the regiments of the Rainbow Division. The men from Alabama did not always think in brotherly affection of the breezy men from New York; and the latter were disposed, at times, to resort to more than banter in their dealings with the Alabamans. On July 16th, while the fighting was at its height, and low-flying German airplanes were spraying the Rainbow Division with machine-gun splatter, a man from Alabama, "who had grownup from childhood with a squirrel rifle under his arm," took deliberate aim with his rifle and actually brought down one of those offending planes. It was the first time in the history of the Western Front that a rifleman on the ground had done so. But it had been done an Alabaman. This was enough to prompt the colonel of the old 69th to harangue his new York Irishmen. And it was enough to prompt a New Yorker of heavy brogue to stand up in the trenches next and "take a pot" at a flying Boche, with--let it be recorded to the credit of New York--as good results a had come to Alabama. A Northerner is just as good as a Southerner at fighting, but an Irishman has than all "licked," especially if he happens to have learned Yankee-isms in New York City.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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