Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

36th Infantry Division

The Texas troops were ordered to mobilize at Camp Bowie, where the World War I 36th Division was organized under a War Department order dated July 18, 1917. This division was composed of National Guard troops from the States of Texas and Oklahoma. Just prior to embarking, the division was brought up to war strength by the addition of several thousand national army men from the two states. Its composition was as follows: 71st Infantry Brigade -- 141st and 142nd Infantry Regiments and 132nd Machine Gun Battalion; 72nd Infantry Brigade -- 143rd and 144th Infantry Regiments and 133rd Machine Gun Battalion, 111th Engineers, 111th Field Signal Battalion, the Division Trains, and 61st Field Artillery Brigade -- 131st, 132nd (Light) and 133rd (Heavy) Field Artillery and 111th Trench Mortar Battery.

The first unit of the division arrived in France, May 31, 1918, and the last August 12, 1918. Immediately upon arrival, all units, with the exception of the artillery, were sent to 13th Training Area in the vicinity of Bar-sur-Aube, where division headquarters was established on July 27. The 61st Field Artillery Brigade was detached and sent to Coetquidan, an artillery training camp in Brittany, where it remained throughout the period of hostilities.

The division was stationed at Bar-sur-Aube until September 26, at which time it moved by rail to the area between Epernay and Chalons-sur-Marne and established headquarters at Pocancy, Department of the Marne. Here it remained 10 days, as a reserve of the French group of Armies of the Center, attached to the Fifth French Army for purposes of supply.

To the north, only a short distance, the Meuse-Argonne offensive was under way. The American attack between the Argonne and the Meuse was being aided by the Fourth French Army in the Champagne just to the west. In the latter sector, the enemy stubbornly resisted every attack and on October 3, the 36th was transferred to the Fourth French Army with which the Second American Division was already serving. On the night of October 4, units of the division began moving from the Pocancy area to the vicinity of Suippes and Somme-Suippes. The 71st Brigade began the relief of the Second Division on the night of October 6, on an irregular line about four kilometers long between St. Etienne and Medeah Farm, facing generally north. Brigade headquarters were immediately established on Blanc Mont, approximately five kilometers northwest of Somme-Py.

The 71st Brigade (141st and 142nd Infantry Regiments) attacked on the morning of October 8 with troops of the Second Division acting as reserves. The attack was a phase of an operation by the Second, 11th and 21st French Corps to extend the allied lines to Machault and Semide. The lines fluctuated, but the day's operation netted the brigade a substantial gain. Sixty-six officers and 1,227 men were lost during the day. In the meanwhile, the remainder of the division moved from the Pocancy area to the front and on the night of October 9 these units completed the relief of the infantry of the Second Division, the artillery of the latter division remaining in support of the 36th Division at 10 a. m., October 10. An Attack of the 142nd Infantry north of St. Etienne failed that afternoon; however, the 141st succeeded in advancing its lines some 500 yards.

Between 5 and 6 p.m., the 72nd Brigade (142rd and 144th Infantry Regiments) passed through the 71st and attacked in the direction of Machault and Cauroy. The attack resulted in a slight advance. The following morning, the enemy began his retreat to the north in the direction of Dricourt and Attigny. The 72nd Brigade took up pursuit and lively rear guard actions followed between St. Etienne and Machault, which resulted in the encircling of the latter town and the establishment of lines to the north of it. The following day, the brigade pushed forward to Hill 167 northwest of Vaux Champagne, overlooking the valley of the Aisne from Attigny to Givry, from which positions patrols were pushed out t the canal. The enemy was strongly entrenched on the northern bank of the Aisne and had taken every precaution to prevent a crossing. The 71st Brigade went into line on the 13th, taking over the front of the 73rd French Division to the east of the 72nd Brigade. The division's line at this time ran along the slope of Hill 167 approximately four kilometers from the Aisne. No further attempts to advance were made until the 27th when the strong Foret Farm was stormed and taken by the 71st Brigade, the entire garrison being either killed or captured.

The relief of the 36th began on October 28. The division was then assembled in the Suippes-Somme-Suippes area and from this point moved to the Triaucourt area and established headquarters at Conde-en-Barrois. Here it remained until the signing of the Armistice, as a unit of the First American Army. In the Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) operation, losses totaling 2,513 were suffered.

The 111th Engineers was detached from the division September 10, 1918, and assigned as corps engineers to the First American Army Corps. As such, this organization participated in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. Shortly after the conclusion of hostilities, the division moved to the 16th Trining Area around Tonnerre and established headquarters at Cheney. Here it remained until April 26, 1919, when the first element started for a port of embarkation for return to this country.

Division headquarters sailed from Brest May 23 and arrived at New York on June 4. The division spent 23 days in active sectors and none in quiet ones.

This division is credited with freeing Rheims. The total advance of the division was 13.8 miles, total prisoners captured, 813; total material captured, three pieces heavy artillery, six pieces light artillery, 17 trench mortars and 277 machine guns; value of materials and ammunition captured in dumps, etc., $10,000,000.

The division's casualties were: killed in action, 331 officers, 469 men; died of wounds, four officers, 70 men; gassed, 177 officers, 329 men; slightly wounded, 42 officers, 89 men; severely wounded, 39 officers, 474 men; total casualties, 2,601 officers and men.

Awards for valor to members of the division were: Distinguished Service Crosses, 30; Croix de Guerres, 128, and Congressional Medals of Honor, two.

The division had three different commanding generals, as follows: Major General E. St. John Grebble, August 23 - September 17, 1917, and December 6, 1917 - August 2, 1918; Brigadier General George Blakely, September 18 - December 5, 1917, and Major General William R. Smith, August 3, 1918, to date of demobilization, which took place at Camp Bowie, Fort Worth, Texas, in June, 1919.

The World War brigade commanders were as follows: 71st Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General Henry Hutchings and Brigadier General Pegram Whitworth; 72nd Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General John A. Hulen (served continuously from its organization until its muster-out of Federal service); 61st Artillery Brigade, Brigadier General George Blakely and Brigadier General John E. Stephens.

An analysis of the records of casualties in the Army and the Marine Corps reveals the fact that Texas lost, from all causes, during the World War, 5,897 officers and men, exclusive of those who died in the Naval service. Of this number, 4,301 died overseas, while 1,493 died in this country.

Previous Article | History Menu | Next Article