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The Record of The 168th Infantry
Headquarters 42nd Division
American Expeditionary Forces
2 April 1919
General Order No. 21-D.
As the Rainbow Division has reached the closing days of its military service, the Commanding General desires to recite in orders the salient features of the service of the 168th Infantry.
After an intensive training period, during which, due to severe climatic conditions, many hardships had to be endured, the 168th Infantry, as part of the 42d Division, was moved into the Luneville Sector, and in conjunction with French units took over a portion of the line. After a short period there, spent in putting finishing touches on its training, it was moved, with the other elements of the Division, into the Baccaret Sector. Here it held the right half of the Neufmaisons Subsector during a period of approximately 100 days and helped the 42d Division hold the Baccaret Sector for a longer continuous period than any other American division held a sector. In this service it experienced two extremely severe enemy gas projector attacks. Many of its members were fatally gassed, but there was no time that its line was not held firmly against the futile attacks of the enemy to penetrate it. It also repulsed a strong enemy raid, inflicting heavy casualties without itself suffering any losses.
The 168th Infantry was withdrawn from this sector and as part of the Division was moved to the vicinity of Snippes and thrown in as part of General Gouraud's now famous army to stem the tide of the German offensive of July 15th. Here the Regiment was placed with certain of its elements in the first line and others on the second position, and not a single individual of the enemy succeeded in penetrating the lines it held. On these positions the men underwent, without sufficient cover, what many veteran French officers described as the most intensive enemy artillery fire of the war. They withstood this ordeal with a calmness and spirit that called forth the admiration of the French with whom they were serving. The French Division Commander in command of the Sector of Snipes remarked with amazement on the steadiness and coolness displayed by the Regiment under its first heavy shell fire.
After the German offensive had been completely stopped the Regiment was withdrawn and immediately thrown into the French and American offensive towards the Oureq and the Vesle. Here, by its aggressiveness it forged forward 15 kilometers, overcoming and beating down the formidable strong point Hill 212. The Regiment forced a crossing of the Oureq, and with the 167th Infantry, the other regiment of its brigade, after the most severe kind of fighting, in which the village of Sergy changed hands eight times, it finally retained possession of that village, forcing the enemy to withdraw. The fight for Sergy is now one of the prominent points in history of the American Expeditionary Forces. In the position along the Oureq the 168th Infantry underwent, day and night, intense shell and machine gun fire, some of which came from the flanks and enfiladed its position. It however held its position and always ready and eager to push forward when called upon.
Upon reaching the heights overlooking the Vesle the Regiment was relieved by elements of a fresh division and withdrawn to the Bourmont Area for a well earned rest. Hardly, however, had it become settled in this area before orders came directing that it proceed to take up its position for attack against the St. Mihiel Salient. This was done by hard night marches. In the St. Mihiel Operation the 168th Infantry forged ahead, reaching its objective many hours before the time limit prescribed and overcoming many German machine gun nests in the thick woods through which it progressed in the early stages of the attack.
Upon reaching the final objective prescribed by the Army the 168th organized its sector and held it. During its period of occupation of this position it executed a most successful raid against Marimbois Farm, killing many of the enemy, destroying machine gun nests and returning with prisoners without itself suffering any casualties. This regiment continually harassed the enemy and kept him constantly uncertain and nervous.
The next scene of operation was in the Argonne. Here, in conjunction with the other regiment of its brigade, in savage fighting through thick woods, it took the Cote de Chatillon, which was the key of the famous Kriemhilde Stellung, and held it, thus permitting part of the attack of November 1st to be launched from this favorable point of departure. In overcoming resistance on the Cote de Chatillon the 168th conquered the strong point of Tuilerie Farm by extremely severe and aggressive fighting.
On November 1st, as part of the Division, this Regiment moved to push the attack towards Sedan. Here it forged ahead, and on November 9th, when the Division was relieved in the front line, the 168th Infantry had reached the heights overlooking the Meuse in the vicinity of Sedan.
When the Armistice was signed the 168th Infantry, with the other elements of the 42nd Division, marched into Germany, where it remained as part of the American Army of Occupation on the Rhine until its departure for the United States.
It is with soldierly pride that the Division Commander thus briefly reviews the magnificient record of the 168th U.S. Infantry, the old 3d Iowa Infantry.
Iowa may well be proud of her representation int he Rainbow Division.
By command of Major General Flagler:
Wm. N. Hughes, Jr., Colonel, General Staff, Chief of Staff.
James E. Thomas
Major, A.G., U.S.A.,
[The Story of the 168th Infantry by John H. Tabor, 1925; submitted by Ann]
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