2nd Battalion - 115th Infantry Regiment
The 115th Infantry dates its lineage back to the earliest militia units formed to protect the frontier of western Maryland. The birthdate of the unit, June 14, 1775, is also the birthdate of the United States Army. The first two companies to leave Maryland were assembled in Frederick in the summer of 1775 under the command of Captains Cresap and Price; they were organized in response to the Continental Congress' call to active duty. They left Frederick in August and marched 551 miles in 21 days to report to General Washington in September for the defense of Boston. These personnel later became part of the famous "Maryland 400" or "Maryland Line," who repeatedly charged a numerically superior British force during the Battle of Long Island, sustaining heavy casualties, but allowing General Washington to successfully evacuate the bulk of his troops to Manhattan.
During the Civil War, the First Maryland Infantry (USA), organized by Colonel John R. Kenly, and the First Maryland Infantry (CSA), commanded by Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, constituted the major part of the forces engaged at the Battle of Front Royal on 23 May 1862. During this battle, in which the Confederates were successful, Colonel Kenly gave utterance to the famous commande, "Rally round the Flag," which is to this day the motto of the 115th Regiment. This was the only time in the Nation's military history that two regiments of the same numerical designation and from the same state engaged each other in battle.
A direct descendant of this regiment was organized 29 September 1881 as the First Battalion of Infantry, Maryland Army National Guard, from existing independent companies at Hagerstown and Frederick. It was expanded and redesignated First Regiment of Infantry on 7 May 1886 by the consolidation of the First Battalion of Infantry with several more independent companies of infantry throughout the state.
The unit mustered into federal service 11 May 1889 as the First Maryland Infantry Regiment, U.S. Volunteers, and was assigned to the Second Army Corps during the Spanish-American War. The regiment was mustered out of the Federal Service 15 March 1890 without serving outside the continental United States. On 28 June 1916 the Regiment was again called into active servcie and saw duty at Eagle Pass, Texas during the Mexican Border Incident. Two of the battalion commanders who served during this period were Majors Milton A. Reckford (future Adjutant General, State of Maryland) and D. John Markey (future Regimental Commander). The unit was mustered out of federal service on 4 November 1916.
During World War I the First Maryland was consolidated with elements of the Fifth Maryland Infantry Regiment to form the 115th. The 115th became one of the four regiments brought together into the Twenty-Ninth Division, which was formed in July 1917, at Sea Girt, New Jersey. The division wasn't even a year old when it received its baptism of fire in France.
During the Meuse-Argonne offensive they would fight for 21 straight days, moving over 6 miles, throwing back elements of 6 enemy divisions, and suffering a staggering 4,781 casualties in the process. After the Armistice was signed, the Twenty-Ninth Division would be brought home in July, 1919 and dissipated. The 1-115th is authorized two campaign streamers for its service in World War I: one for Alsace and one for Meuse-Argonne. The next time the division would be reformed was for the maneuvers in 1936.
On February 3, 1941, the Twenty-Ninth Division was recalled to active duty for one year at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. The division conducted extensive training here and elsewhere, to include A.P. Hill, Virginia, and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. They would also participate in the Carolina Maneuvers. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the division's term of service was extended "until the cessation of hostilities."
Between September 27 and October 5, the division was loaded onto the HMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Once in England, the Twenty-Ninth would take part in what seemed to be almost continuous training exercises. These would terminate in June 1944 with the invasion of "Fortress Europe:" D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, at 6:30 in the morning, elements of 3 US Infantry divisions landed on the Normandy coast, the first step on the road to the liberation of Europe. On Omaha beach, in the thick of the fiercest fighting, was the Twenty-Ninth Division, the only National Guard division in the attack. The 115th Regiment landed in the second assault wave.
After securing the Omaha Beachhead, the division would live up to its battlecry of "Twenty-Nine, Let's Go!" Hill 192, Insigny, St. Lo. These are just a few of the names that will live in the history of the division. "The Major of St. Lo," Major Tom Howie, killed during the assault on that city, would be memorialized in Life Magazine, and a song would be written of the fight.
From the fortress of Brest through the Julich and on to the Elbe River, the fame of the regiment would spread. The 5,948 casualties sustained attest to the ferocity with which the regiment fought. Campaign streamers for Normandy (with arrowhead), North France, Rhineland, and Central Europe were added to the colors. Additional decorations included a distinguished unit streamer embroidered "St. Laurent-Sur-Mer," a streamer in the colors of the French Croix du Guerre with palms embroidered "St. Laurent-Sur-Mer," and, for the First Battalion, a streamer in the colors of the French Croix du Guerre with Silver Star embroidered "St. Lo."
The war's end would see the Twenth-Ninth Division come home; however, unlike the end of WWI, the division would be retained as a National Guard division. However, in 1968, due to changing requirements, the division's colors were retired, leaving the individual units to carry on the traditions of the division.
The 2-115th of the Maryland National Guard is transitioning from a light infantry battalion to three Light Antitank companies and conducted a live fire exercises in June 2003 at Fort A. P. Hill, Va. The units with armories in Elkton, Easton and headquarter in Chestertown, Md., fired the tube launched, optically tracked wire guided missile system better known as the TOW.
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