Back to
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Welcome Screen

78th Division - Lightning Division

The 78thDivision, National Army, was established on August 5, 1917 at Camp Dix, N.J. The division’s core consisted of draftees from Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. The division was nicknamed the “Lightning Division” by the French, who thought the division’s combat was reminiscent to a bolt of lightning that left a field red with the blood of enemies.

The 78thDivision trained in France initially near the Ypres Front in conjunction with the British Army. On August 20, 1918, the division left the British sector and moved to a training sector at Haute-Marne. From there, the division became a reserve unit for the First Army Corps and moved north to prepare for the St. Mihiel Offensive (September 12 - 16, 1918) that would cut German communications and secure Allied flanks for future offensives.

Men of 312th Infantry Regiment, 78th Division, picking off German snipers near Grandpre, October 18, 1918.

On October 15, 1918 the 78thDivision entered into the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that had been raging since September 26, 1918. The first action of the 78thin the Meuse-Argonne was to relieve the battered 77thDivision near Grand-Pre and St. Juvin. On the following day the 78thattacked to take the Bois des Loges and to clear Grandpre of German defenders -- strongly fortified in the town’s elevated citadel.

The town was completely in American hands by October 23, 1918 after days of brutal combat. The division pushed on to clear the Bois de Bourgogne and Bois de Loges and seize Tannary.

Members of Company E, 311th Infantry Regiment, 78th Division after taking Grandpre, 1918.

Constituent Units of the 78thDivision

155thInfantry Brigade

  • 309thInfantry Regiment
  • 310thInfantry Regiment
  • 308thMachine Gun Battalion

156thInfantry Brigade

  • 311thInfantry Regiment
  • 312thInfantry Regiment
  • 309thMachine Gun Battalion

153rdField Artillery Brigade

  • 307thField Artillery Regiment
  • 308thField Artillery Regiment
  • 309thField Artillery Regiment
  • 303rdTrench Mortar Battery

Divisional Troops

  • 307thMachine Gun Battalion
  • 303rdEngineer Regiment
  • 303rdField Signal Battalion
  • Headquarters Troops
78th Division Insignia stained glass in the memorial chapel at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.