Ohio in the
Official story of the 166th infantry
R.M. Cheseldine, Ex-Captain 166th Infantry
Ed. Columbus 1924
Trucks from Division
Headquarters began to move and at 3 o'clock Sunday morning,
February 16, Headquarters, Machine Gun Co. and the ist Battalion
marched from Perrogney to Langres and boarded a "side door
Pullman" train. Supply Company, 2nd and 3rd Battalions followed
on succeeding days.
The route to the front ran through Chamont, Neufchateau, Toul
and Nancy through Luneville to St. Clement, a small village 12
kilometers east of Luneville. Here all elements detrained and
went into billets in the towns of Moyen, Vallois, Benamenil and
Domjevin, all within easy marching distance of the front line
Evidence of active combat was on every side. At Luneville while
the train waited for a few moments the troops were treated to
the sight of a German plane high above the city dodging an anti-aircraft
barrage from below. Again at St. Clement the same thing occurred.
Heinie was evidently finding out about the new arrivals.
There was a wonderful thrill about it all. It meant that we were
about to get into it. The test was just ahead. Had all the
training been worth while or was it wasted? Was the Rainbow
anything but a name?
February 20th Headquarters moved out of St. Clement and moved
forward to Domjevin. Along that seven mile route strange sights
greeted the men. The art of camouflage, which had been but a
myth to Americans, now became a reality. Deep in the woods a
tree on close inspection became an observation tower. Nearing
Domjevin the road appeared to have been cut through a hill, but
when the cut was reached there was only a camouflage screen of
wire and grass covering a great battery of French heavy
artillery. Shell holes were plentiful. Dumps of war material
were hidden in deep woods.
Domjevin was a mere shell of a town, with scarcely a house
intact. Dugouts and stone shelters were popular types of
architecture, and the only inhabitants were French and Italian
The battle front at this point ran practically parallel to the
Lorraine frontier, which was about 12 kilometers northeast of
Domjevin. This part of the front was in the sub-sector St.
Clement of the Luneville sector; the particular front to be
taken over was known as the C- R. (center of resistance)
Rognelle and consisted of a system of trenches and boyaus with a
frontage of about 1 l/2 kilometers. The front line was about 500
meters from Blemery, a small shell torn village lying about 2
kilometers to the east of Domjevin, with a chain of small hills
running between the two places.
There were some sad hearts in the outfit as final preparations
were made to enter the trenches for the first time, because many
familiar faces were missing from the ranks of company commanders.
Officers commanding in the unit were: Colonel Hough, Lt. Col.
Florence, Majors Allen, Houser and Henderson. Hdqrs. Co. Volka,
Supply, Koeppel; Machine Gun, Houk. Co. A, Sampson, B, Lt.
Jones; Company C, Breed, D, Geran. The 2nd Battalion had lost
Captains Newlove and Lindsay. Co. E, Lt. Doellinger; Co. F, Lt.
Stevenson; Co. G, Caldwell; Co. H, Bailey. The 3rd Battalion had
the same complement of Captains Haubrich, Hardway, Kindler and
The 166th was attached to the 60th French Infantry, the famous
"ace of hearts" Regiment, and formed with them a part of the 7th
Corps of the 8th French Army. They were to act as chaperons, as
it were, in the initial test and instruct in the intricacies of
trench warfare. They proved to be most capable instructors and
our pleasant relations with them greatly increased our
admiration for the veteran wearers of the "horizon blue."
On Washington's birthday, Colonel Hough entertained the Colonel
of the 60th, Col. de Pirrey, and his staff, at dinner and the
following poem written by Lt. George B. Low, Hdqrs. Company,
which appeared on the menu card, so fittingly describes the
fraternal spirit between the French and Americans that it is
worth repeating here:
Sons of France we come to help you,
Your LaFayette pointed the way,
When he came to the call of Washington,
To our land in the olden day.
We bring with us a new army,
Not trained, but willing to fight,
For a cause that we know is just and true,
Where right must conquor might.
The "Ace of Hearts" you represent,
At the top of the pack you play,
While we, as the lowly "Deuce of Hearts"
Are looking for the way.
While never the "Ace" we may equal,
The thing we will strive to do,
Is to be the "King" just under the "Ace",
And nearly the equal of you.
That dinner will long be remembered by those who were fortunate
enough to be present as guests and by those who were lucky
enough and possessed of sufficient nerve to stick around where
the sights and sounds could be seen and heard. One group of
junior officers had dinner in a room adjoining the "Banquet
room" where "Red", the Colonel's orderly presided. As a reminder
of the "dear departed days" it is well to mention that no French
banquet can be complete without the wine, and Red presided over
the banquet supply. One observer reports that Red tenderly
caressed each bottle that left the room to grace the banquet
table, and jealously counted those remaining to see if any would
be left for him.
This Washington's Birthday celebration marked the last link in
the chain from home to the trenches. That day orders were
received to put one battalion in the front line on the night of
February 22nd. The 1st Battalion was selected as the first of
the 166th Infantry to actually take over a trench sector. The
3rd Battalion was in support in Benaineuil with the 2nd in
reserve in Moyen and Vallois. Supply Co. held forth in Laronxe,
which was a village separated from St. Clement only by a
railroad track, while elements of the Machine Gun and
Headquarters company accompanied the 1st Battalion in the
The war officially began for the 166th Infantry on Washington's
THE WOOD CALLED ROUGE BOUQUET
(Dedicated to the memory of 19 members of Co. E, 165th Infantry,
who made the supreme sacrifice at Rouge-Bouquet, Forest of
Parroy, France, March 7, 1918; read by the Chaplain at the
funeral, the refrain echoing the music of taps from a distant
In the woods they call Rouge-Bouquet
There is a new made grave today,
Built by never a spade or pick,
Yet covered by earth ten meters thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh or live again
Or taste of the summer time;
For death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey -
And left them there -
Clay to Clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they sought to free,
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear,
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear;
Go to sleep -
Go to sleep -
(Taps sounding in the distance)
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this spot of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand,
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new come band.
St. Michael's sword darts through the air
And touches the aureols on his hair,
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Bridget and Columbkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael's blood runs.
And up to Heaven's doorway floats,
From the woods called Rouge-Bouquet,
A delicate sound of bugle notes
That softly say:
(Taps sounding in the distance)
Peace to you;
Your souls shall be where the heroes are,
Your memory shine like the morning star,
Brave and dear,
Shield us here -
Joyce Kilmer, Sgt. Inf.,
Killed in Action, July 30, 1918
"ALL AMERICAN - OUT TO THEM WIRES."
We with the war ahead,
You who have held the line,
Laughing, have broken bread
And taken wine.
We cannot speak your tongue,
We cannot fully know
Things hid beneath your smile
Four years ago.
Things which have given us,
Grimly, a common debt,
Now that we take the field,
We won't forget I
Russell Lord, Corp. F. A.
Living the life of a soldier in the trenches is living a life
apart from the world. Pictures of trench life fail to tell half
of the story and repeated descriptions from men who were there
are inadequate to bring to the civilian mind any clear cut
picture. The new soldiers of America thought they understood all
about trenches and trench warfare when the call to go in came to
them in February, 1918, but the difference between training
behind the lines and the real thing was the difference between
day and night.
On February 22, 1918, the 1st Battalion pushed its way through
the mud from Domjevin through Blemery to the trenches and
quietly relieved a battalion of French troops. A, C and D
companies were in the front line with B company in reserve at
Battalion Headquarters, in Blemery.
Gun flashes intermittently lighted the darkness as the men
ploughed through the sticky mud. In the distance the rattle of a
machine gun broke the stillness of night and occasionally a
rocket or flare broke high in the air above the German trenches.
But it was quiet in that sector in spite of these slight
evidences of war.
The St. Clement sector was considered a quiet sector and was
used as a rest sector by both sides, but to the 166th Infantry,
new to the actual game of war, it seemed lively every night.
In the inky blackness wire posts looked like Germans and many an
unoffending stick of wood was made the target of a shower of
rifle bullets and hand grenades. Many flares were sent up,
another habit of the beginner. As the nervousness wore off,
however, these symptoms disappeared and things settled down to
the tedium of trench warfare which, as our English Allies so
aptly said, is "damned dull, damned damp and damned dangerous".
Life in those days was anything but pleasant. The trenches in
this sector were old and out of repair. The water and mud was
knee deep in places and in many places "duck boards" or trench
walks were conspicous by their absence. The dugouts were poor
and inadequate in number and swarmed with rats and vermin.
It is surprising how quickly soldiers can accommodate themselves
to the conditions under which they must live, and in a very
short time the men of Ohio were veterans at the trench game.
Patrols were sent out almost every night and such activity was
the real romance of war to the Americans. From three to ten or
more men under an officer would slip out of the trenches in the
dead of night and move through the wire into No Man's Land.
There for an hour or two they would roam the disputed territory
sometimes with the mission of taking prisoners, sometimes to be
prepared to combat a hostile patrol which showed intention of
coming through the American wire. It was in a sense Indian
warfare at which Americans excelled.
On the night of March 1-2 the ist Battalion was relieved by the
3rd and that same night the first man of our regiment and of the
Rainbow Division to make the supreme sacrifice for the cause of
freedom, "went west". Private Dyer J. Bird, Co. D, of Broadway,
Union County, Ohio, was killed by a rifle or machine gun bullet
as he was coming out of the trenches.
The funeral of Private Bird was held a few days later in
Domjevin in the open space before regimental Headquarters. Major
General Charles T. Menoher, commanding the 42nd Division, with
Colonel Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff and members of the
General Staff, together with high officers of the French Army
attended the services and marched with the body of mourners to
the little cemetery on the hill back of the village, where the
casket, flag covered, was lowered into its grave. Heads were
uncovered as Chaplain Halliday spoke the final words of prayer
and all saluted as the soft tones of "Taps" paid the last
measure of military devotion to one who had kept his "rendezvous
What had been a quiet sector became "everything else but" about
one week after the Rainbow Division went in. On the night of
March 4 the i67th Infantry (Alabama) sent out a patrol and
bagged two prisoners, said to be the first captured by Americans
operating alone. Then on the morning of March 5 the Boche
attempted a raid on the sector held by the Iowa men, the 168th
Infantry. Running true to Yank form the men from the "tall corn
state" smashed Heinie where it hurt and sent him back to his own
trenches, a sadder but wiser man. Germany realized with bitter
certainty that Von Tirpitz and his subs had failed to keep
America on her own side of the Atlantic.
The ist Battalion had pioneered the way in the tumbledown
trenches for the rest of the 166th. Dugouts had been made
somewhat more habitable, yet there was still need for pumps to
keep the water from getting more than knee deep in places, and
one battalion never could exterminate all the rats in a week.
The ist spent a miserable week learning how to snipe, how to
distinguish a post from a German at night, and how to keep under
cover when Boche planes were up. The 3rd Battalion came in in
time to hold the trenches for the first big operation in which
the regiment took part.
On the night of March 9 a patrol of 45 men, selected from all
companies and led by Lieutenant Caleb B. Lear, D. Co., made a
"go and come" raid on the German trenches in conjunction with a
French raiding party on the left. The raid was carefully planned
and included an hour's artillery preparation with participation
by the Stokes Mortars and 37 m.m. guns and a machine gun barage.
The regiment had been under fire for over a week and had grown
used to the noise of shelling from American batteries, but the
artillery bombardment which preceded this raid was the first
concentrated fire the outfit had ever witnessed. A description
of the bombardment from the viewpoint of an observer at Domjevin
is given here because it paints a fairly accurate picture from
behind the trenches. This officer had come to Colonel Hough's
quarters on the night of the show to be where things could be
seen and heard. He says: "Last night was a corker. I'm going to
tell you a bit of it because it's a cinch that Old Fritz knows
all about it by this time and what he learns from this letter
won't add a bit to his store of military information."
"Yesterday afternoon I rode over to Regimental Headquarters
which is a short distance 'behind the scenes,' and sat down to
wait for the show which had been secretly advertised to begin
about dusk. The main idea was to Strafe Heinie a bit - kick up
enough of a row to permit a leisurely inspection of his living
quarters by a few interested personages of French and American
descent as 'twere."
"While we were in the Colonel's room in came Irvin S. Cobb and
Martin Green, correspondents from Division Headquarters. It was
my first meeting with Cobb and I surely did enjoy him before the
evening was over. He just can't help being funny and in spite of
the serious side of the performance we witnessed, he had us
laughing half the time."
"To resume - the Colonel, Lt. Colonel and French officers left
us before supper to go to a special point of observation. After
we ate, we went outside and hunted up a high point of ground and
planted ourselves for the show. It wasn't long in starting. The
orchestra tuned up slowly, assisted by their directors - three
aeroplanes, who acted as spotters. At the zero hour, the special
time set for any military action to start, the orchestra began
"Such a tune as they did play! Each instrument had a special
solo and then at a signal from the direction overhead, all Hell
literally broke loose! There were guns everywhere it seemed.
Places on hillsides that in daytime resembled only green spots,
clumps of trees or hay stacks, became furnaces pouring forth
tons of white hot metal - great steel monsters belched forth
from innocent valleys and sent shrieking through the air to the
Boche lines over the hill, shell after shell so accurately timed
that with four guns to a battery firing it was impossible to
tell when the last one fired and the first one began."
"From where we stood when darkness came, it was like standing in
the center of an enormous diamond ring, which sparkled from a
hundred facets as the pale moon overhead sent its beams down on
the glimmering surface. After a few seconds, one became
bewildered in trying to focus eyes and attention on every spot
at once. The noise was terrific, the reports blended into one
perfect roar, so close were the explosives, one after another.
At a distance they said it sounded like the rattle of one
monster machine gun instead of the single shots from hundreds of
"Oh, it was wonderful! Words can't describe it - one must see
and experience it to appreciate it. Its purpose and the result
must be left untold. It is enough to know that it happened. For
forty minutes it continued and then died away except for the
occasional gasp from one or another battery that sounded like
the dying cough of an automobile engine before it stops."
"And then the peace of night, a perfect spring night, settled
down and the red glares burned out and the Hell-holes became
again bushes, trees and stacks of hay. The moon shone as
brightly as before, but somehow it was now dark, when before it
had been light enough to read without artificial light. The
night was colder it seemed, though the thermometer had not
varied, yet a few moments before the heat had seemed intense. We
men were all the same, yet each seemed different and voices that
we had heard often and knew seemed strangely different - some
soft and deep and sad, others high-pitched and shrill and
nervous. Things were the same, but still so different."
Lt. J. J. Holliday. Chaplain. 165th Inf.. rendering last rite
over body of Pvt. D. J. Bird, Co. D. 166th Inf., from Broadway,
Ohio, first American soldier of 42nd Div. killed in St. Clement
sector. This soldier was killed at a listening post by a German
raiding party. He saw the Germans come out of the trench and
after hurling two hand grenades in their midst, he turned to
warn his comrades, when he received the fatal bullet. As he fell
his comrades heard him call: "The Germans are coming in the form
of a wedge. Boys, I'm dying." Domjevin, France, March 3, 1918
"Why? We had all seen Death,
that strangest of all experiences, actually manufactured before
our eyes! And each one's thoughts were turned to that unseen
place 'over the hill' where Death we had seen new-born, stalked
in all its ghostly majesty. Fritz had been strafed."
"As we turned to go back to the town, Cobb stopped and pointed
to the spot where we had been standing. We looked and each knew
what he meant. Our point of observation had been just outside
the wall of a little cemetery, and there standing out clear
against the skyline was a cross. Following so closely after that
awful spectacle, the sight of that cross was uncanny. The
Chaplain was with us and he whispered, 'Just inside that wall
and beneath that cross, lies the first boy of the Division to
die for France'."
"We got almost back to town before anyone spoke again. Then a
few shots were fired far to our left and somewhere a German
battery sent over a shell or two which burst far down the valley.
Green stopped and turning to his partner Cobb, he said, 'Fritz
seems to be coming to visit us. Now if he comes any nearer, Mrs.
Green's boy is going down that road. Will you accompany me'?
'No,' replied Cobb, 'Most emphatically, no! If Mrs. Green's boy
is going down that road he will be accompanied by no one, but
Mrs. Cobb's son will precede him!'
"That broke the strain and from then on Cobb simply exuded humor
until we left to come home about nine o'clock. It was a great
night and one I never will forget for it was my first of the
"Another Boche shell whined over toward the little party and
struck in the valley beyond the town. Cobb, anxiously listening
to its flight said, 'All this confirms your preaching, Chaplain.
I don't like those things coming this way at all. I agree that
it is more blessed to give than to receive'."
The raid itself was a success. However, so intense had been the
artillery fire on the German positions that the arrival of the
Americans came after the Boche had deserted his position. No
prisoners were taken but identification was established and the
patrol returned without casualty. As a result of this action
twenty-three of the officers and men of the party were decorated
with the French Croix de Guerre.
Irvin Cobb remained several days with the regiment and left many
a humorous incident to brighten up the later days of work and
worry. In the Saturday Evening Post of May 18, 1918, appeared an
article by him entitled, "All American - out to them wires,"
which tells of the raid just described and of other incidents of
his stay in the sector of the 166th Infantry. In explanation of
the choice of the title for his story Mr. Cobb says that during
the tour of the trenches he was under guidance of an "infantry
captain - a man of German birth and German name, born in Cologne
and brought to America as a child." (This man was Captain Robert
Haubrich, Co. I, 166th Infantry.) The tour included a trip to
the most advanced listening post where Cobb was given a chance
to peer across into the German lines. Two soldiers manned the
"Is this your first close-up at No Man's Land ?" asked the
Captain of Cobb.
"Before I could answer," continues Cobb, "one of the privates
put in, 'It might a-been No Man's Land onct, Cap'n, but from now
on it's goin' to be all American clear out to them furtherest
"So that was how and when I found the title for this article * *
* * That night just after dusk forty-five of our boys went over
the top at the very point we had visited, and next morning, true
enough, and for quite a while after that, No Man's Land was "All
American clear out to them furthest wires."
Perhaps in retaliation for what they considered undue activity
and inexcusable curiosity, the Boche on March 13, fur days after
the big raid, subjected Domjevin to a heavy helling which lasted
about one-half hour. Two Frenchmen ere killed and four wounded,
while two men of the 166th were slightly wounded. The French
officers hesitated about returning the fire saying that the
shelling of the town was probably unintentional on the Germans'
part. "Red" Wyatt, the regimental philosopher rendered his
verdict of the incident. "That gunner over there is either drunk
or a new beginner," he said, as he nervously counted the "arrivals."
Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio,
paid the regiment a rather hasty visit on the morning of March
19. He was inspecting all the American forces for the President
and came with great pleasure to see those of his own state in
action. He was treated to a bit of retaliatory fire by the Boche
on an American battery just outside of Domjevin, inspected the
troops at Benemaiul and then hurried on his way.
This first period under fire was a test of training methods, an
examination in the subjects taught in the United States and the
back areas of France. The combat troops proved their efficiency
and the Medical Detachment showed its worth in operations near
Blemery, but the Supply Company, working alone and on a job
about which no text books were written passed its examinations
with equal credit.
C. C. Lyon, Columbus, Ohio, special correspondent for the
Newspaper Enterprise Association, in an article in the "Stars
and Stripes," the official newspaper of the A. E. F. which
printed its first edition on February 8, 1918, says:
"You've got to take your hats off to the boys who drive the mule
teams up to the front * * * They travel those roads night after
night regardless of how many shells the Germans throw at them."
George Pattullo, in the Saturday Evening Post of April 20, 1918
speaks his mind in this fashion:
"And right here I want to say, Hats off to the mule skinners and
the boys who drive the ammunition-and-supply wagons! Day and
night they are at it. Night after night they move along roads
that are sometimes a yawning tomb, to carry food and stuff to
the men in the trenches. No matter how savage the bombardment,
soldiers must eat; the fiercer
the fighting the greater the need for ammunition * * * Of all
work done in the face of the enemy, to my mind that of the
transport men at the front is the most hazardous."
These quotations from professional observers are given here to
show you, readers, what was thought of the frontline supply game
in the days when the 166th Infantry was undergoing its baptism
of fire. Under Captain O. O. Koeppel the Supply Company
developed an organization in the early days of the war that made
it the pride of the regiment. Each battalion had its wagon
trains under an assistant wagonmaster, the regimental train
under Wagonmaster Sheean and Stable Sergeant Red Waggoman. Each
battalion in the line had a supply company officer at Battalion
Every night the ration train came up to Blemery under its
corporal. Every night the Boche shelled the hilly road from
Domjevin to Blemery. With mathematical precision he put his
shells, so many minutes apart on that road. Between shells, with
the skill of a train despatcher, the corporals sent out one
wagon. A shell - a wagon - a shell - a wagon - and so on until
all had cleared. Never was a wagon struck on that road and
supplies were regularly received at company kitchens.
On the night of March 11-12 the 2nd Battalion relieved the 3rd
in the trenches and for ten days held the line. The usual
procedure of patrols was kept up and the nervousness of
inexperience worn off. On the night of the relief, at 2:45
o'clock a buck of F Company at one side of a U shaped trench
looked out and saw a fence post across the little salient. He
blazed away. 2:45 1/4 o'clock, 14 G. Company bucks on the other
side of the U saw the gun flashes from F. Company, ducked and
This duel kept up until the artillery, sure of an early morning
raid, cut loose with a barrage. This was a distinctly American
war conducted, probably to Heinie's amusement until daylight
brought the information that should have been forthcoming the
night before - that F and G Companies held opposite sides of the
U-shaped trench. Luckily no one was hurt.
Ten days to the Battalion was the prescribed dose for the first
trick and on the night of March 21 the 2nd Battalion gave way to
the French and came out of the trenches during a very severe
bombardment that extended well into the support positions. It
was with great difficulty that the rolling stock was brought out
of the area that night because of the shell-torn roads.
Thirty days in the trenches had brought to the regiment
casualities of six killed and fourteen wounded.
The night of the 21st the regiment billeted in St. Clement and
the next day started back to Hainville and Damas-aux-Bois to
await orders. Colonel Hough waited at Domjevin to turn over the
sector to the French on March 21. Red Wyatt was with him. Red
wanted to be on his way, because Heinie, angry at the activity
of the Americans during their thirty-day stay in his rest area,
was shelling every town he could reach, even dropping shrapnel
over Luneville, Division Headquarters. Domjevin was getting its
share. Finally Red could contain himself no longer. The Colonel
had stepped from the house and stood by his car, talking to a
French officer. A shell cracked over the church.
Clutching the Colonel's arm Red pushed him toward the waiting
"Hell, Colonel, let's get a move on. You've been here for a
month an' you've been pretty reasonable. Don't make a damn fool
of yourself the last day and get us both killed. Get a move on
and do your visiting some other time."
THE FIRST TO COMMAND
Standin' up here on the fire-tep,
Lookin' ahead in the mist,
With a tin hat over your ivory
And a rifle clutched in your fist;
Waitin' and watchin' and wond'rin'
If the Hun's comin' over tonight -
Say, ain't the things you think of
Enough to give you a fright?
When will the war be over?
When will the gang break through?
What will the U. S. look like?
What will there be to do?
Where will the Boches be then?
Who will have married Nell?
When's that relief a-comin' up?
Gee! But this thinkin's Hell !
Hudson Hawley, Pvt. M. G. Bn. 1918.
In the April 1, 1918 issue of the Reveille appeared the
following article by Colonel Ben W. Hough: "Well done! That
phrase of approbation epitomizes the message that the Commanding
Officer of the 166th Regiment of the vanguard of the American
Expeditionary Forces desires to express to his men as they
emerge from a period of training and testing. * * *
"The Croix de Guerre, which the French Government has seen fit
to present to your Commanding Officer, is not for personal
fortitude. It represents regimental accomplishment. It is a
reward for the Buceye units' courageous action and calm conduct
under enemy fire that was daily increased to work against our
morale. The war cross belongs to every man in the regiment."
Secretary of War Newton D. Baker with Major James A. Sampson,
inspecting troops of 166th Infantry, Benamenil, France, March,
"In the future there is a promise. The past has revealed short-comings
of a minor nature. Increased endeavor will eliminate these. That
will come as an accompaniment of time and further training. My
enthusiastic commendation includes both officers and men. The
former have been good leaders and the latter have ever
anticipated their leadings. Surely Ohio has a right to be proud
of her sons in Regiment One-six-six."
After a month under the French in Lorraine, the 42nd Division
was withdrawn from the front, assembled, and started on a long
hike which was to be tactical march back to the Rolamport area
for further training. Before leaving St. Clement the French
presented the Croix de Guerre to 23 participants in the raid of
March 9, and to Colonel Hough. The Colonel's reception of this
honor is told in the passage quoted above.
One day's hike took the regiment back to Hallainville,
Damas-aux-Bois and Clezentine, where orders indicated that a few
days would be given to rest and receiving new equipment.
On Saturday, March 23, regimental review was held and an
official photograph taken by a French photographer. Sunday was
Palm Sunday and Chaplain Halliday held services for the entire
regiment in a large field ner Damas-aux-Bois. His address to "Ye
men of O-H-I-O" was inspiring. Colonel Hough personally
expressed his appreciation of the work of the regiment.
Then followed a few days of comparative rest with rumors flying
thick and fast. Everyone knew of the great German offensive
launched on March 21 at Cambrai. The British forces were hard
pressed and French troops were being hurried from quiet sectors
to the scene of activity. Rumors had it that our rest would be
On March 27 all doubts were set at rest when orders were
received to return to the Baccarat sector. The French Vllth
Corps was needed elsewhere and the 42nd Division got its
opportunity to hold a sector somewhat earlier than might
otherwise have been the case.
After a frantic rush to get new equipment, a mad scramble to
unload baggage which was ready for shipment to Rolampont, the
Division began its move to Baccarat on March 29. The first day
brought the 166th Infantry to Roville-aux-Chenes. Someone has
recalled the fact that certain members, perhaps all, of the band
missed breakfast that day when orderd to play the regiment out
of Hallainville, and developed considerable discord. It is said
that it required the services of the Colonel to bring out the
No one thought of moving beyond Roville that night, yet the
Powers That Be decreed that the regiment be ready to take over
its sector early on the morning of March 31. To do this orders
required a move at midnight of March 29, and orders were obeyed.
Twenty-eight more kilometers were reeled off by 7 a. m. on the
30th, a total of 40 kilometers in 24 hours, the longest, and in
some respects the hardest hike the regiment ever made.
The movement was made through Baccarat to Montigny where
Headquarters was established. The other units were stationed at
Merviller, Reherrey, Vaxainville, Brouville, and Gelacourt.
On Easter Sunday, March 31, the 1st Battalion under Major Rell
G. Allen took over the C. R. Ancerviller in sub-sector Merviller
of the Baccarat Sector, while other elements of the Rainbow took
Describing the area Major Wolfe in his "Short History of the
Rainbow Division, says: "Thus it was that the Rainbow was the
second American division to be entrusted a sector, and the first
in point of time to be entrusted with an entire divisional, two
brigade-in-the-line sector. From the outset, the 42nd Division
had, during its occupation of the Baccarat Sector, both its
infantry brigades and its artillery brigade in the line: The
84th Brigade, on the right, as it continued to be thereafter
through all the division's operations, held the sub-sector of
Neufmaisons, which abutted on the boundary between the VIIIth
French Army commanded
by General Gerard (with whom we were) and the Vllth French Army,
which was in the Vosges on our south. The 83rd Brigade, on the
left, held the sub-sector of Merville, and had on its left a
French division. On the south, our divisional boundary lay
through dense tangled woods and skirted treacherous trails
through the steep and forest country, which, in the spring that
was about to break, was idyllic with its soft green woods and
farm fields; the River Meurthe formed the rear line of the
division. It was a front of thirteen kilometers as the crow
flies, and about sixteen kilometers with all its meanderings,
and one of unusual interest, containing an alternation of
patches of woods and farm lands, and finally, on the south, the
ravinous and forest country of the Vosges. This front had,
except for the past month, been quiet ever since the Germans had
overrun it in the first hours of the war and were driven back
across it by the defeat that Castelnau administered to them at
Grand Courronne. It did not abound with chateaux, but it did
consist of numerous small towns and villages closely connected
by good roads, and of the two somewhat larger towns of
Badonviller and Baccarat at both of which lay factories - at the
former town, devoted to the making of pottery, and at the
latter, the celebrated Baccarat Glass Works. Except for this
industrial work, the life of the sector in peace times was
pronouncedly agricultural. The whole territory lay about fifteen
kilometers west of the 1914 German frontiers. At the Baccarat
Sector, the opposing lines made the sharp break to the south
which appeared so marked on all maps, and, due to this fact,
this sector was considered the hinge for the entire Alsatian
front, and important as such. A great road leading through
Baccarat to Ramberviller to Epinal, if held by the enemy, would
cut the main line of supplies to Alsace, and might sever the
Vosges from the rest of the front, or might give the enemy an
opportunity to sweep back to the River Meurthe past Luneville
and threaten the line near Nancy and Pont-a-Mousson. This sector,
with its great size and the strategic significance of its front,
the division took over in great earnestness as a sacred trust.
In a very short time the French command was entirely convinced
that the new American Division could be relied on to defend it
successfully in case of attack."
The sector of the 166th Infantry was described as C. R. (Center
of resistance) Ancerviller, taking its name from the village of
Ancerviller on its extreme right.
This position consisted of a series of six strong points running
from the beautiful Bois-de-Comte on the left, across a small
hill, to the village of Ancerviller, in the outskirts of which
ran the trenches forming G. C.'s 5 and 6. The sector roughly
formed a triangle with Montigny at the apex with a road leading
to G. C. 10 in the Bois-de-Comte for one side and a narrow gauge
railroad and trail running to Ancerviller for the other. The
front trenches made the base with a frontage of approximately
two kilometers facing the enemy.
Battalion Headquarters was in Ancerviller with the Regimental P.
C. at Montigny. On April 6, Regimental Headquarters moved back
to Reherrey and Battalion Headquarters to Montigny. The regiment
held the left of the Division sector with the 167th and 166th on
its right and the 165th in reserve at Deneuvre near Baccarat.
The serious situation developing on the north and the calm that
had existed in the Baccarat sector since the new German
offensive started, made it necessary to find out just what
changes were being made in the opposition front. Identification
had to be established in order to determine what activity might
be planned in the Vosges region, and to that end .other activity
on our part was subordinated to night patrols into Boche
The Germans were active at night also and the inevitable
result was a series of clashes in the darkness which often
brought down a barrage and a counter barrage, developing an
operation that had all the appearance of a big push. By day all
was apparently peaceful in the valleys but at night the wire and
No Man's Land were alive with ghostly shapes.
On the night of April 7, three Germans who knew their way
through the wire, entered Ancerviller and got as far as the main
street before they were observed by a guard. "Red" Smith, Co. B,
was on guard that night. His first knowledge of the patrol came
when a voice said in English, "You're my prisoner." The feel of
a gun accompanied the remark, but "Red" was inclined to dispute
both the statement and the persuader.
"You're a damned fool," he shouted, and in good American fashion
planted a bony fist in the Germans face. The Boche fired sending
a bullet into Red's stomach. Red returned the fire from the
ground, and his shots brought others of the guard. In the melee
that ensued one German non-commissioned officer was killed and
the others escaped. Ohio casualties were two wounded.
Each battalion of the 166th took an eight day trick in the front
line. The 3rd Battalion under Major Henderson followed the 1st
Battalion on April 8, and held its position until April 16, when
the 2nd Battalion under Major Houser took the final period. Not
a night passed without its patrol operations. One night Lt.
Milton Monnett, Co. M, killed a black dog wearing a collar to
which was attached a despatch case with German messages. The dog
was used between the German trenches and some spy behind our
lines. The circumstance together with the patrol operation
described above forced the use of code signals in all messages
and telephone calls and the use of a password and countersigns
for all movements after night fall.
A rather unusual patrol operation was carried out by Lts. Koger
and Reece of H. Co. on the night of April 20. Lt. Koger was just
out of the hospital and not altogether fit. Sgt. Fuller was
listed as second in command of the patrol, but Lt. Reece
volunteered to go with the outfit. Lts. Koger and Reece, Sgt.
Fuller and a French officer with a group penetrated the first
German wire and reached the second positions. Machine gun fire
was encountered and the men dropped to the ground. Sgt. Fuller
was lying between Koger and Reece. After the first burst Lt.
Koger heard a noise which he knew meant but one thing-the sound
of swiftly flowing blood and a gasping cough which told him that
Fuller had been shot. There was no chance for first aid. No man
could move, but when the firing ceased the officers quickly
reached the man who was dying. They picked him up and made their
way through the danger zone of wire and trenches, under fire,
and reached the remainder of their patrol. But Sgt. Fuller was
dead. The officers carried the body back across No Man's Land to
their own trenches.
Each evening Division Headquarters issued a password for the
night which was given only to the guard by regimental
headquarters. Anyone having necessity for passing the guards
must secure the password from headquarters before venturing out,
for the sentries had strict orders to pass only those qualified
and to shoot on failure to receive proper answers.
It was necessary for the Supply Company to deliver rations to
the front lines at night, and all ration-cart drivers were
therefore given the password. Upon being challenged by a sentry
the driver had to climb down from his seat, approach the sentry
and give the password before being permitted to proceed. The
mule skinners appreciated the necessity for this and were
careful to comply.
One night the password was "Garibaldi," the name of a famous
Italian patriot, and drivers were given the word and started
As the wagons neared the front the Boche began to shell the
roads. The drivers hurried to their several kitchens, unloaded
and started back as quickly as possible. The shelling increased,
and the driver of a wagon hates to stay long in one place on a
road where shells were cracking.
The last man out was Sam Shaw and Sam was nervous. A sentry
challenged him and he dismounted, gave the word and moved on as
quickly as possible. Again in a few yards he was halted and the
same procedure gone through with. Sentries seemed more numerous
and the shells were coming more frequently.
A third time the worried driver was forced to stop his team and
give the password. He started again and urged his mules into a
trot. A shell struck nearby. The mules lunged ahead. Another
shell, and just then a sentry ahead called out, "Halt! Who's
The exasperated mule skinner arose in his wagon and lashed at
his mules. He didn't intend to be stopped again.
"Garibaldi, two mules and a ration cart. Get out of the way, you
damn fool and let me go," he cried to the astonished sentry as
his wagon dashed madly down the road.
After each battalion had completed its "trick in" the regiment
was relieved by the 165th Infantry and dropped back to Deneuvre
as Army Corps Reserve in defense of the Baccarat Sector.
Regimental Headquarters, Headquarters Co., Supply Co. and 3rd
Battalion less Co. I, were located in Deneuvre. I Co. was
Neufmaison; A and Mg. Co's in Veney; the 2nd Battalion went to
Camp Grand Voivre (Camp de Mud) and Brouville; Cos. B. C. D, in
Haxo Barracks, Baccarat.