Chapter 4. Organization of an American Division


Gilbert H. Crawford
Thomas H. Ellett
John J. Hyland


BEFORE proceeding to describe the Baccarat Sector and the work of the Regiment there, it will be well to describe briefly the organization of an American division in 1918, and the duties of the divisional engineer department. Such a description will assist in the understanding of the regimental history to follow.

An American division at full strength in 1918 was made up of two brigades of infantry, each brigade consisting of two regiments of about 3,600 men each. There was also a brigade of artillery, consisting of two regiments of light field artillery and one regiment of heavy artillery. Three machine gun battalions were also assigned to each division-one for each brigade and one as a divisional reserve. In addition, a division included one regiment of combat engineers, armed as infantry, one battalion of signal corps and various trains, such as supply, ammunition, engineer and sanitary trains.

In the 77th Division, these units were numbered as follows:

JUNE, 1918.
77th Division Headquarters. .
302nd Engineers.
302nd Engineer Train.
304th Machine Gun Battalion.
302nd Field Signal Battalion.
HQ Trains and Military Police---
302nd Supply Train.
302nd Ammunition Train.
302nd Sanitary Train .

152nd Artillery Brigade.
304th Artillery.
305th Artillery.
306th Artillery.

153rd Infantry Brigade
305th Infantry.
306th Infantry.
305th Machine Gun Battalion.

154th Infantry Brigade.
307th Infantry
308th Infantry.
306th Machine Gun Battalion

The two infantry brigades of the division were generally in the front line abreast of each other. An engineer regiment was divided into two battalions, each of three companies, and for the purpose of cooperation with the infantry, one engineer battalion was attached to each infantry brigade. As soon as the 77th Division was settled in the Baccarat Sector, the first battalion, 302nd Engineers, was attached to the 153rd Infantry Brigade, and the second battalion to the 154th Infantry Brigade. Throughout the ensuing campaign, these attachments continued.

As to the duties of combat engineers, they are many, and vary with the military situation. The motto of the military engineer should be, "Communications ready on time." This motto applies particularly to mobile warfare, when the ability of the army to move rapidly depends upon the constant efforts of the engineers.

Roads must be made passable, bridges must be repaired and built, paths cut, signs posted, etc. Anything which will assist the movement of the infantry and the artillery is properly the duty of the engineers.

In stabilized warfare, such as that on the Baccarat front, the engineers made the minor road repairs required near the front, planned and supervised the construction of new trenches and dugouts, gas-proofed all dugouts, mined bridges, put up barbed wire, made and placed signs and did a multitude of other useful things. Colonel Sherrill's orders were to comply with any request for work, and to do our utmost to cooperate wholeheartedly with the other arms of the service.

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