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1st Division - The Big Red One

The 1st Division is the U.S. Army’s oldest continuously serving regular division. The maximum strength of the division was set at 991 officers and 27,114 men.  On June 14, 1917 the first contingents of the division sailed from New York City and Hoboken, N.J. for St. Nazaire, France.  Once in France, components of the division traveled to the Gondrecourt training area in Gondrecourt, France.  Here the division’s full force had assembled by December 1917.

Bayonet training at Gondrecourt, July 30, 1917.

The 28th Infantry Regiment of the First Division attacked and captured Cantigny on May 28, 1918 and repulsed fierce German counterattacks in the following days.  Cantigny was the first major American battle and victory of the war.

1st Division in Exermont, September 30, 1918.

The 1stDivision led in an attack that cleared the St. Mihiel Salient (a salient being an area that projects into the enemy’s defensive line) from September 12 to 16, 1918 and captured 15,000 prisoners. The division speedily redeployed and participated in the war’s climactic final offensive, the Meuse-Argonne, from September 29 through November 11, 1918. Here the division seized Fleville, Exermont, and the heights overlooking Sedan. The 1stDivision suffered 4,996 dead and 17,324 wounded; of these 2,823 are buried in or memorialized at ABMC cemeteries.

Machine gunners of the 1st Division in action near Exermont. October 4, 1918.

Constituent Units of the 1stDivision

1st  Infantry Brigade

  • 16thInfantry Regiment
  • 18thInfantry Regiment
  • 2ndMachine Gun Battalion

2ndInfantry Brigade

  • 26th Infantry Regiment
  • 28th Infantry Regiment
  • 3rd Machine Gun Battalion

1stField Artillery Brigade

  • 6th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 5thField Artillery Regiment
  • 7thField Artillery Regiment
  • 1stTrench-Mortar Battery

Divisional Troops

  • 1st Machine Gun Battalion
  • 2ndField Signal Battalion
  • 1stEngineer Regiment
  • Headquarters Troop
1st Division Insignia stained glass in the memorial chapel at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.