Men of Iron by Don Troiani : Doughboys assault German positions in the Bois de Mort Mare during the Battle of St. Mihiel.
Battle of St. Mihiel, the Bois de Frière, Sept. 12, 1918
The 3/358th Infantry, 90th Division, was designated the assault unit for the American attack on the morning of September 12. As they were moving forward toward their jump-off positions before dawn, the unit was caught by German counter-battery fire. Major Allen, battalion commander, was wounded and evacuated while unconscious to an aid station in the rear. Regaining his senses, Allen removed his medical tag and sought to rejoin his unit, which had already advanced through the Bois de Frière. Allen gathered a group of men separated from their units and led them forward. They discovered a group of Germans bypassed by the first wave of American troops emerging from their dugout. Allen led his men in desperate hand-to-hand combat with the Germans. After emptying his pistol and despite his wounds, Allen fought with his fists, losing several teeth and suffering another serious wound.
Allen and his men are shown engaging the Germans in the trench. On the morning of September 12, American troops wore raincoats to protect against the rain. Allen is using his .45-caliber pistol which was standard issue for American officers. American tactical doctrine required the assault battalions to advance as quickly as possible toward their first objective line. Follow-on battalions were given the task of mopping up German strongpoints bypassed by the leading troops. The American early morning artillery barrage drove many German units into the protection of their dugoutsand many were passed over by the first wave of American troops. During the St. Mihiel offensive several American support units engaged in desperate battles to clean out small groups of Germans scattered throughout the woods.
Allen would rise to command the American 1st Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily in World War II. Criticized for lax discipline, Allen was relieved of his command by General Dwight Eisenhower. Allen was then assigned to command the 104th Infantry Division and he led them through the Battle of the Bulge and Germany’s surrender in May 1945.
An American attack in the Seicheprey region, in a watercolor by the artist-correspondent Harvey Dunn.
Ok gang, those of you that are into military history to the level that you want to learn what color jacket facings Rush’s Lancer’s wore in 1862, the Company of Military Historians are for you. I have been a member for several years and have published a few articles in their society journal “Military Historian and Collector”
Larry Munnikhuysen speaks about his experience in the Company of Military Historians. The Company of Military Historians was founded in 1949 and is dedicated to the study of the military history of North and South America. The membership publishes a quarterly journal, Military Historian & Collector, with articles covering all time periods and all aspects of military material culture. The Company also produces and publishes the Military Uniforms In America series of historic uniform plates. Well known for years as the scholarly resource on American military artifacts the Company’s membership includes collectors, educators, writers, researchers, museum professionals and artists. For a free sample of Military Collector & Historian please go to http://military-historians.org/company/journal/58-3/58-3.pdf. Membership is open to anyone who has an interest in the military history of the Western Hemisphere, more information and on-line enrolling are available at http://www.military-historians.org.
War trophies are funny. Whenever a soldier bested another on the field of battle they took his weapons, part of his uniform, or some other souvenir. In the great halls of old Europe the walls are adorned with weapons and armor taken from vanquished knights. In Moscow to this day is an artillery park with hundreds of cannons captured by every Russian war lord from Ivan the Terrible to Stalin. There are stories of western settlers coming in contact with Native Americans on the Great Plains in the 19th century who proudly displayed Spanish Marion armor captured hundreds of years before. Most people have a grandfather or great uncle from prior generations who proudly brought back home with him a Luger or samurai sword.
Today British soldiers are coming back from Afghanistan with weapons that have already been trophies. Foolish enough to think the sun never in fact set on the British Empire, the colonial British Army pushed into Afghanistan from India several times in the 19th and 20th centuries with mixed success and often failure. One of these failures was at the Battle of Maiwand in 1880. In this battle nearly a thousand British and Indian soldiers were killed, routed by an Afghan army. These included almost 300 men of the 66th Regiment of Foot, who were armed with the excellent Martini-Henry rifles. These rifles fell into the hands of victorious Afghan warriors. With the Afghan warrior culture full of respect for firearms, these were passed down from generation to generation of men, no doubt seeing service many times in local blood feuds, and during later British and then Soviet occupations. Many of these weapons are being confiscated by British soldiers, once again in Afghanistan- this time in support of the GWOT, and coming back home.