History of the Third Division

This book was among some of my Grandfather’s things, which my Dad gave to me as a young teenager.  From the title page, it is officially named History of the Third Division, United States Army in The World War, For the Period December 1, 1917 to January 1, 1919.  Printed by M. Dumont Schauberg in Cologne, it was published February 1, 1919, in Andernach, Germany, which served as HQ for the 3rd Division occupational forces.

While not intrinsically valuable in and of itself, I count it among my prized possessions, as one of the few links I have to my Grandfather.

Tucked in its pages were a few old German Marks from the period. I still have them.

On a side note, we have some old paper currency that belonged to my German wife’s grandparents, from the hyperinflation period that took place in the 1920s.  Germany had decoupled its currency from the gold standard and had borrowed heavily to pay for the war, which had dragged on longer than originally anticipated. When they lost the war, the severe reparations imposed on them by the Allied victors added to this massive debt, and the the French and Belgian occupation of the industrial Ruhr region left Germany with no means of generating income.  By late 1923, some accounts place one US dollar as being equal to 4,210,500,000,000 German Marks.  By 1924, banknotes were being printed in 100 billion Mark denominations.  It literally required a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread.  People were burning money in their stoves because it was cheaper than buying firewood.  The Great Depression of 1929 and the massive unemployment that came with it was the final death blow to Germany’s economic disaster, and the demoralizing social upheaval left in its wake created the perfect storm that paved the way for the German National Socialist Worker’s Party’s rise to power – the Nazis.  The stage was set for WWII.

A wealth of historical information, the following excerpts from the book details many of the Divisional units and their roles in the Battle of Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, including the 7th Infantry.  Private Brigner is known to have participated in both of these actions, and was wounded on October 12th, during the Meuse-Argonne.

The text here is as it appears in the book, including grammatical errors, misspellings and all.

From "The Doughboys, The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918" by Laurence Stallings

Map from The Doughboys, The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918, by Laurence Stallings

St. Mihiel Offensive

For sixteen days the regiment remained billeted and bivouaced in and near VIFFORT which, after the bombardment of July 15th, was as dirty and unattractive a town as could be found in France.  Here we lost our regimental commander, Col. Thos. M. Anderson, who was transferred to the 3rd Division Trains.  Col. E. L. Butts, of the  30th Infantry, came to the 7th.

From "Our Greatest Battle" by Frederick Palmer

Map from Our Greatest Battle, by Frederick Palmer

The Meusse-Argonne

On September the 25th the Seventh Infantry commenced its march to the Argonne.  The first night’s march brought the regiment to a hill south of Jouy-en-Argonne; the second to the northeastern edge of the Bois de Hesse.  Here, for three days the men of the regiment lay in old shell holes awaiting orders for a further advance, while Company “L” and the Pioneer Platoon went ahead to find a path across the morass.