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WITH THE 1121
IN FR^CE



A DOUGHBOYS STORY
OF THE WAR,



^!



BY



JAMES A. MURRIN



3HC



WITH THE 112TH IN FRANCE





COLONEL GEORGE C. RICKARDS

Beloved Coiiimaiider of the 1 12th Infantry at Camp Hancock and throughout all the trying

days on the battlefront in Franco



WITH THE 112TH
- IN FRANCE

A DOUGHBOY'S STORY
OF THE WAR

BY

JAMES A. MURRIN

THIRTY-TWO ILLUSTRATIONS




PRESS OF

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

PHILADELPHIA, PA.



,\A n



COPYEIGHTED, 1910, BY JAMES A. MURBIX



A GREETING FROM THE 112TH'S
VETERAN COMMANDER.

To THE Officers axd Men of the 112th Infantey,
U. S. Army:

I assure you that I esteem it a very great honor and
the privilege of a hfetime to thus subscribe to the patri-
otism and loyalty of the men who made up the rank and
file of the 112th U. S. Infantry; who, by their faithful
performance of duty, made possible the accomplisliment
of meeting every demand to which it was called; who,
regardless of conditions, by their solemn joy fulness kept
alive the spirit of comi-adeship and determination and
carried fear to the heart of the foe; and who, by their
fidehty to their Commanding Officer, brought honor and
recognition to the organization.

None of these things can ever be understood, much
less appreciated, by any but one who has commanded in
times such as we have experienced, and so it is with the
deepest sense of comradeship and love I acknowledge
to the living of my comi^ades an undying gi-atitude, and
to those who gave up their lives in the gi-eat cause, a sol-
emn and holy reverence, firm in the belief that their
spirit has found that refuge sought by all men ; and with
the hope that the past has but strengthened us, the liv-
ing, in the characteristics of clean manhood and citizen-
ship, to the end that when the last taps have sounded for



vi GREETING FROM 112TH'S VETERAN COMMANDER

us, we shall have reaped the same reward — honor among
om* fellow-men and an everlasting life.

I also wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge
our indebtedness to Corporal Murrin for the preserva-
tion of manuscripts, accounts of events and official rec-
ords. He has com^^iled them, together with his own writ-
ings done while on the field, which makes them both of
historical value and intense interest to every member of
the 112th Infantry and their friends.

I congratulate my comrades of the Regiment that it
is possible for them to have this record and commend
Corporal Murrin for his worthy and successful effort.

I have the honor to be

Your comrade,

Geo. C. Rickards.

Oil City, Pa.
June 6, 1919



INTRODUCTION TO A DOUGHBOY'S

STORY

Through and through this is a doughboy's story.

It is not a compilation of official documents, written
with a view to meeting all the requirements of a stereo-
typed report. The effort has been directed toward tell-
ing in a human way those human incidents which made
up part of the hfe of hiking, fighting and eating (as time
and rolling kitchens permitted) during a strenuous four
months' service on the battle-line in France.

Perhaps the story of the 112th Infantry, 28th Divi-
sion, is no more remarkable in many respects than the
record of many other infantry regiments at the front. No
claim is made that it had better fighters, that it excelled
in one specialty or in stajnng quahties ; yet it did possess
all those characteristics which go toward making up a
real American regiment, fighting fit and ready to fight ;
that indomitable persistence to plunge ahead which
played such a great part in driving the Hun line back to
its homeland.

The purpose of this little volume — in itself a sum-
mary of doughboy incidents, front-line actions and shell-
dodging — is merely to record for all time the fact that
the 112th Infantry, as part of the Keystone Division and
of the great American army in France, played its part
in the field — played it in such a becoming belligerent

vii



vui INTRODUCTION TO A DOUGHBOY'S STORY

fashion as to win numerous commendations from Divi-
sion, Corps and Army commanders.

Its men were no different from thousands of others ;
yet those who claimed allegiance to the 1 12th, who
trained with it at Camp Hancock and who fought with it
from the Marne to the Vesle, through the Argomie and on
the Thiaucourt sector, believe it to be worthy of a place
in history. That is but natural; the men of any other
regiment of many another division have the same feel-
ing; it is such a spirit, such superb confidence and such
splendid conduct when the real test comes that made the
American army the invincible steam-roller it proved
itself to be during that stirring summer and memorable
fall of 1918.

The mention of persons, of places, of one company or
another must not be taken as reflecting at all on those
that are omitted. After all, place names mean but lit-
tle; the names of those who fought and died are cher-
ished by the loved ones left to mourn their loss, while the
names of those who fought and lived are to-day revered
in those homes to which they have returned, to receive
that glorious welcome which an appreciative nation has
given to all its A. E. F. veterans.

Being a doughboy's story, mistakes are within the
range of possibility. The doughboy is not infallible ; and
"this man's army" is not without fault; and yet the
doughboy has been one of the big factors in making the
army " over there " worth-while. The letters, anecdotes
and the jottings-in-general that go to make up this little



INTRODUCTION TO A DOUGHBOY'S STORY ix

volume show the hopeful spirit of the man under fire, his
boyish tendencies, his genial good nature in spite of in-
numerable difficulties and discouragements.

Under such a leader of men as Colonel George C.
Rickards, who at fifty-eight led the 112th into action
along the Vesle, they had a regimental conmiander in
whom they had the firmest confidence at all times ; whose
every act was an inspiration, and who was appreciative
of buck private, non-com and ofiicer, all according to the
degree of his efficiency in playing the game. Colonel
Rickards, with his two-score years of militarj^ experi-
ence, was among the oldest National Guard officers to
see front-hne action, and yet he was young in spite of
his years.

The story of the 112th Infantry is nothing more than
the complete narrative of Colonel Rickards and his fam-
ily of fighting doughboys. Under shellfire, marching
through a downpour of rain, enduring the same condi-
tions as his men, the commanding officer of the 11 2th
infantry earned for himself the esteem and love of 'men
whose fighting abilities were tested in the crucible of
Jerry's hell-fire. Few commanders have been so solici-
tous for the welfare of the man in the ranks, few have
been able to combine disciphne and friendship for the
soldier so admirably — in other words, few officers have
proved so able as gentlemen and soldiers to command as
this man who saw the whole war game through with the
112th Infantry Regiment in France.

This is not a one-man story. If the personal pro-



X INTRODUCTION TO A DOUGHBOY'S STORY

noun is used at times, it is Mr. Doughboy speaking —
not the author. The author himself was a doughboy
throughout the whole " show " ; he shouldered a rifle and
carried " ammo " ; in addition, he managed to swing a
Corona in one hand mitil the Argonne decreed that the
little machine was beyond service. In his small way he
has played an average part; as a cub war correspondent
when the armistice was signed he recorded the day-to-
day events of an existence that seemed to run on a
humdrum basis after four months of unending activity
and excitement.

Now that the war is over, it seems altogether fitting
that a few of the stories, letters and notes on what the
regiment experienced during its torn* of duty in the
A. E. F. should be given a permanent form; for mem-
ory plays many tricks and is liable to brush away some
of those dates on which the 112th helped make American
history in the repubhc " over there.'*

Sailing from New York on May 7, 1918, landing in
France nine days later, at the front on July 4th and
under shellfire for all of but fourteen days until the
signing of the armistice November 11, 1918, the 112th
Infantry had a whirlwind record of activity hard to
approach. In a twinkling, the 28th Division passed from
a " green " into the " veteran " class, and sharing in these
honors was the regiment about whose life on the battle-
front this volume essays to say something worth-while.

No tribute to the 112th could be more expressive than
the cryptic statement that it played the game every foot



INTRODUCTION TO A DOUGHBOY'S STORY xi

of the way; it did not recognize the impossible as unsur-
mountable ; it converted a dead sector into something of
life — all to the disgust of a retreating and beaten foe.

The man at home, the soldiers in American camps,
the S. O. S. in France, the artillery, the cooperation of
other units, and the living spirit of a great cause itself
all helped make the accomplishments of the infantry
possible; and the 112th was one of those regiments which
made good from the start, and never quit until the war
was declared over.

To those men, living and dead, who were its mem-
bers, to its officers and to its beloved Colonel, this book
is affectionately dedicated. It is written in the hope that
it may serve as a reminder of the brighter side of those
days in France, to which each doughboy hopes he has

said adieu for all time.

James A. Murrin.

Franklin, Pa.
July 1, 1919



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

Greetings by Colonel Rickards v

Introduction to a Doughboy's Story vii

PART I— IN SOUTHERN SANDS

I, The History of Two Regiments S

II. Parades and Hikes at Camp Hancock 11

III. One Memorable Thanksgiving 23

IV. Fighting Wind, Winter and Measles 33

V. Pennsylvania's Royal "God Bless You" 50

PART II— UP THE LINE IN FRANCE

VI. Across the Ocean on a Palace Ship 59

VII. Training Days with Tommy Atkins 83

VIII. Up the Line Independence Day 99

IX. Hill 204 Takes Its Toll 117

X. Chateau-Thierry, and North 136

XL Into Action Along the Vesle 158

XII. The Tragedy at Fismette 185

XIII. Hobnailing it into the Argonne .218

XIV. The Advance in the Argonne 246

XV. Uncrowned Heroes of the Argonne Drive 273

XVI. Putting Life into a Quiet Sector 284

XVII. The Story of the Casualty List 310

PART III— AFTER THE ARMISTICE

XVIII. Holidays that Brought Thoughts of Home .... 335

XIX. From Buxieres to Tilweron 380

XX. The Band's RAle in the War Game 407

XXI. When Phil.a.delphl\ Proved Its Brotherly Love 425

PART IV— ADDITIONAL CITATIONS

xiii



ILLUSTRATIONS

PART ONE

Colonel George C. Rickards Frontispiece

Start of 7-Mile Hike from Camp Hancock 1'2

One of the Election Boards 24

112th Boys at Grenade Practice 25

"Over the Top" in the Bayonet Runs 40

The Cub War Correspondent at Camp Hancock 41

View of Officers' Row in Southern Sands 48

PART TWO

Remarkable Aerial Photo of Fismes and Fismette 162

Fismes and Fismette on August 21, 1918 174

Wrecked City Hall of Fismes as it Looked September 5th ... 175

Jerrj' Guns Taken Along Vesle River 186

First Battalion Officers with Captured Hun Material 187

The Famous Stone Dam Over the Vesle into Fismette 194

Tank Crossing Bridge at Boureuilles, Into Argonne 228

Line of Squareheads Advancing Rearward C44

Hill 244 and Part of Chatel Chehery 264

PART THREE

Main Thoroughfare in Buxieres 346

A Typical Billeting Area, the Town of Burey La Cote 347

Main Street in Pagny La Blanche Cote 380

View of Sauvigny and Meuse River Bridge 381

Traveron, Location of Regimental Headquarters 384

Third Battalion Soldiers in Sauvigny 385

"Feeding Up" the Doughboys at Maxey 400

Regimental Band on Hike Near Traveron 418

IT



xvi ILLUSTRATIONS

Famous 112th Orchestra Poses for Last Time 419

Company C "Falls in" for Mess 428

Seeing France from a Side-door Pullman 429

Troops of Second Battalion Boarding Pocahontas 432

Four Days Out at Sea— and "All's Well" 433

Homefolks Aboard Philadelphia's Welcome Ship 436

First 112th Men to Touch American Soil 437

The Last Grand Review at Camp Dix, May 2, 1919 438



PART ONE

IN SOUTHERN SANDS

GETTING READY AT CAMP HANCOCK, AUGUSTA, GA.,
FOR THE GREAT WAR GAME OVERSEAS

PERIOD FROM SEPTEMBER 10, 1917, TO MAY 7, 1918



WITH THE 112th IN FRANCE

CHAPTER I

THE HISTORY OF TWO REGIMENTS

Old 16th Pennsylvania Infantry First War
Strength Regiment in the Country — 8th and 16th
Merged Into the 112th Early in October —
Days of Training in Southland Show Up Well.

When the order came on July 15, 1917, for the
National Guard to mobilize, in response to President
Wilson's call, there were few among the Pennsylvania
troops who M^ould confess even now that they had an ink-
ling of what was in store for them, eithei' in the days,
weeks or months to follow.

The call had been expected any week, from the time
America entered the World War on April 6th of that
year until the word actually came for a gathering of the
forces, a mustering of strength and the hurrying up' of
details that would clear the way for action and other
orders.

And when this news came it found the old IGth Penn-
sylvania Infantry Regiment, with its headquarters at Oil
City, the first war strength National Guard Regiment in
the whole United States. Each company of tlie Regi-
ment had more than the requisite 150 men, and one miit
had more than 190. When entraining orders arrived and
the mobilized units started for Camp Hancock, the 16th



4 WITH THE 112TH IN FRANCE

pulled out for the Southland with 2001 enlisted men
and 52 officers.

While the entire 16th was arriving at Camp Han-
cock, Augusta, Georgia, on the night of September 10th,
the old 8th Regiment, with Headquarters at Harrisburg,
was entraining for the same destination. It was not until
more than five weeks afterward, when tlie reorganization
of the Pennsylvania National Guard was effected along
the War Department lines, that it was determined that
the 8th and the 16th should share honors in becoming the
greater 112th Infantry Regiment — the men from the Oil
Region and those from the broad central valleys of the
Keystone State. The 8th Regiment arrived in camp on
September 12th.

Apropos of this joining of forces, it might be well to
give a brief review of the history of each of these well-
known Pennsylvania Guard Regiments. The old 16th
Pennsylvania Infantry had been organized in 1878, with
General John A. Wiley, a veteran of the Civil War, as
its first Colonel. Since that time there were in command :
General John A. Wiley, from December 3, 1878, to Jan-
uary 25, 1887; General Willis J. Hulings, March 3,
1887, to August 28, 1907, and Colonel George C. Rick-
ards, from September 9, 1907, to the time of the reor-
ganization at Camp Hancock, where he was retained as
Colonel of the 112th Infantry, to serve with becoming
credit throughout America's participation in the great
World War.

The 16th participated in the Spanish- American War,



THE HISTORY OF TWO REGIMENTS 5

its theatre of operations being in Porto Rico, where it
took part in several engagements. In one, the battle of
Coamo, several of its officers conducted themselves so
admirably under fire as to win commendation in official
dispatches. It was during the Porto Rican campaign
that Colonel Hulings was promoted to Brigadier-Gen-
eral and Colonel Rickards to Colonel in command of the
Regiment ; at the close of the war, however, both officers
resumed their former commands as Colonel and Lt.
Colonel, respectively, of the Regiment. It was at this
time that five companies of the old 15th Infantry be-
came a part of the 16th.

When the Regiment answered the President's July
15th call for mobilization, its companies were distributed
as follows :

Headquarters, Supply and D Companies at Oil City;
Company A at Corry; Company B at Meadville; Ma-
chine Gun and C Companies and Sanitary Detachment
at Bradford; Company E at Kane; Company F at
Frankhn; Company G at Erie; Company H at Ridg-
way; Company I at Warren; Company K at Kittan-
ning; Company L at Butler; and Company ^I at Grove
City.

Both the 16th and 8th Regiments saw service on the
Mexican border from July 3, 1916, until the early part
of the following year, and both, too, participated in the
inaugural ceremonies at Washington in ]\Iarch, 1917.
The 8th Regiment drew its personnel from what is
known as the Harrisburg district, that city itself provid-



6 WITH THE 112TH IN FRANCE

ing the Headquarters, Machine Gun, Supply and D and
I Companies. The other units of the 8th Regiment came
from York, Chambersburg, Bedford, Carlisle, Hunt-
ingdon, Pottsville, Mahanoy City and Tamaqua. It was
truly representative of the central part of the Keystone
State.

It came into the new 112th Regiment with the record
of having taken part in the inaugural ceremonies at
Washington of nine Presidents, from Garfield to Wil-
son; in the inaugural ceremonies of ten Governors of
Pennsylvania, from Governor Hartranft in 1876 to
Governor John K. Tener in 1911. In fact, from the
time of its organization in 1874 until it was called to
the service again in 1917, it had played a representative
and prominent role in many state and national cere-
monies, not omitting mention of participation in the
Centennial Parade in Philadelphia in 1876, and the great
Jubilee Parade in the same city at the close of the war
with Spain.

As an organization to preserve order within the Com-
monwealth of Pennsylvania it served well in the indus-
trial troubles and strikers' conflicts in various parts of
the state, particularly during the railroad riots of 1876
at Pittsburgh; in 1875 at Shamokin, during the " Molly
Maguire " riots; in 1876 at Mahanoy City, during the
miners' disturbance there ; at Homestead, upon the oc-
casion of the great steel strike of 1892; at Hazleton,
during the coal strike of 1897; and the Shenandoah an-
thracite coal strikes in 1900 and 1902.



THE HISTORY OF TWO REGIMENTS 7

The regiment was organized in 1874 with the elec-
tion of John P. S. Gobin, of Lebanon, as Colonel. Dur-
ing the Spanish- American War he was given the rank
of Brigadier-General and placed in command of the 8th
Pennsylvania U. S. Volunteers (the 8th Pennsylvania
National Guard), the 12th U. S. Volunteer Infantry,
and the 3d Virginia U. S. Volunteer Infantry at Camp
Alger, Virginia, and later at Camp Meade, Middletown,
Pa. The 12th Pennsylvania and the 3d Virginia Vol-
unteers were mustered out of service at the close of the
war, but the 8th Pennsylvania Infantry was retained;
it is a coincidence that during the winter of 1898 it was
sent to Augusta, Ga., and was camped on part of the
same ground which was designated by the War Depart-
ment in 1917 as Camp Hancock. In March, 1899, the
8th was mustered out of Federal service.

Like the 16th Regiment, the old 8th boasted of a
splendid personnel of officers, men of high standing in
their respective communities, soldiers of long experi-
ence in the military game, and who, during their tei-m
of service, had made a lasting impression and had done
much to improve the morale in general. As Colonels
of the old 8th, the following in the order named served
in that capacity: John P. S. Gobin, who later became
Lieutenant-Governor; Frank J. Magee, Theodore F.
Hoffman, Joseph B. Hutchinson and Maurice E. Fin-
ney. The last Lieutenant-Colonel of the old 8th was
Frank E. Ziegler, a prominent lawj^er of Harrisburg,
who died in February, 1918, from the effects of a fall



8 WITH THE 112TH IN FRANCE

from his mount at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio,

Texas.

This, in brief, is the story of the two Pennsylvania
regiments that were designated to become the 112th In-
fantry. Up until a few days prior to the actual transfer
of personnel, accomplished on October 17, 1917, Camp
Hancock was rife with rumors and reports. Originally,
the reorganization plans called for a merger of the old
18th (or Pittsburgh) Regiment with the 16th; the
officers of that organization, bringing influence to bear,
took their cause to Washington and after a battle lasting
four or five days won their point.

The reorganization plan provided for 250 men and
six officers per company, and General Order No. 22,
Headquarters 28th Division, dated October 11, 1917,
wiped out all old lines. Thereafter the old 16th became
known as the 112th; six days later, with a blistering sun
beating down on Camp Hancock sands and making
things warm, the boys of the old 8th tramped into the
112th area along Pennsylvania avenue, deposited bar-
racks bags and equipment at the head of the company
streets, and said " Howdy."

Then and there the central and northwestern Key-
stoners joined hands in the great game which they were
to help bring to such a successful conclusion a little more
than twelve months later.

The first disappointments in the hearts of the old
8th youngsters were wiped out in the comradeship of the
few days following; strangers became fast friends, let-



THE HISTORY OF TWO REGIMENTS 9

tered companies of the old National Guard regiments be-
came merged, for the most part, into the same letter
under the 112th Infantiy. So by November 1st the
average person looking at the regiment from the casual
viewpoint would hardly believe anything other than that
these companies of 250 and more men each had been
drilling together for weeks or even months instead of a
few days. This rapid development of efficiency and the
elimination of lost motion soon put Camp Hancock on
the map as a mobilization center with a record ; and when
it came to the test imder fire it put the 112th Infantry
and the whole 28th Divsion into the veteran fighting
aggregation at one bound.

The 112tli Infantry spent nearly eight months in
southern sands, from the arrival of the 16th and 8th
Regiment units during the week of September 10th,
until the departure for the embarkation camp on April
30th and May 1st of 1918. The record of activities at
Camp Hancock was one round of strenuous preparation
followed by another — bayonet drills, bomb-throwing,
squads " east and west," parades, reviews, specialist
classes, hikes by day and by night, construction of
trenches, and, in fact, every bit of army activity that
would prepare the man in khaki for strenuous days
"over there." French and British instructors, sent by
the Allies from the battle-zone of Flanders and France,
assisted the division personnel in the direction of bay-
onet, bombing and other practices. The soldier in the
ranks began reahzing as soon as he arrived at camp that



10 WITH THE 112TH IN FRANCE

this war game wasn't all camouflage, and accordingly
jmnped into it with both feet and kept things in mo-
tion. Had the call come for overseas service in No-
vember or December, 1917, as many had anticipated,
it would have found the 112th Infantry and all other
imits of the division ready and willing to go — most of
all, ably prepared to combat the difficulties and hard-
ships of the battle-field.

But politics, the War Department's changing plans,
and perhaps other incidents contributed to a longer stay
in the Southland, so spring arrived and Easter came
before the movement to Camp Upton actually got
under way.

Crowded into the nearly eight months in which the
112th had been at Camp Hancock there were many inci-
dents and much of real pleasure in the day-to-day rou-
tine of the army game. The few chapters that follow
form an outline of a three-season stay in one of the most
splendid mobilization camps of the South, one which held
the good health record for many weeks at a time.

Life at Camp Hancock was a fitting prelude and a
carefully prepared introduction to the testing fire of the
Marne, the Vesle, and those days of exhaustion in the
advance through the Argonne. These things the dough-
boy little dreamed of as he went through a strenuous
day's drill and then enjoyed an evening pass to Augusta;
but they were privileges greatly cherished in memory
when the battle-front was reached.



CHAPTER II

PARADES AND HIKES AT CAMP HANCOCK

Arrival and First Night in Camp, September 10,
1917 — First Parade of War Strength Regiment on
October loth — Brigade March Through Augusta
Four Days Later — Mutual Admiration in Augusta.

" Mighty glad to see you fellows," called one of the
many civilians who waved to the boys in the troop train
as it crossed Greene Street. " We're happy to have all
you Pennsylvanians here."

That was the welcome Augusta accorded to the first



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