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1st Battalion - 103rd Field Artillery

The mission of the 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery, is to destroy, neutralize, or suppress the enemy by cannon, rocket and missile fire and help integrate all fire support assets into combined arms operations.

The Headquarters of the 1st Battalion, 103d Field Artillery, Rhode Island Army National Guard, is located in the Armory of Mounted Commands, Providence, RI.

Within the Rhode Island Army National Guard, the 1st Battalion exercises command and control over the Headquarters and Service Battery and its three (3) Firing Batteries. The firing batteries of the 103d Field Artillery are equipped with the M198 Towed Howitzer.

The Artillery Tradition of Rhode Island extends back over two hundred years. History notes that prior to the Battle of Long Island (26 August 1776) in the Revolutionary War, there was only one Regiment of Artillery in the entire Colonial Army and one of its Batteries (the United Train of Artillery) came from Rhode Island. The 103d Field Artillery (Regiment) traces it's lineage back to the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery which was organized and chartered in October of 1801 in the Rhode Island Militia at Providence. The Providence Marine Corps of Artillery, whose historic armory with it's commemorative tablet still stands on Benefit Street in Providence, is the symbol of the artillery tradition in Rhode Island.

The unit was then composed of seafaring men, the officers being members of the Providence Marine Society, from whence it's name was derived. From the very start, the setup of the Corps was military and not naval. It was equipped with heavy guns adapted for coastal defense. Subsequently, muskets were used, and with old style field pieces, it took part in the expedition to Acote's hill in 1842. In the year 1847, it was equipped as a light Battery with four guns and caissons, as well as a battery wagon and forge. The first parade was conducted at Smith's hill in Providence on 17 October 1847, and was known as "flying artillery", being the first Light Battery ever organized in the United States outside of the Regular Army.

Between April 1861, and April 1863, eight batteries and 1,552 men under thirty six officers who were to leave for the front, were enlisted and trained, primarily at the Benefit Street Arsenal, for the 1st Regiment, Rhode Island Light Artillery. During this same period, more than four hundred men commanded by fifteen officers, went forth from the Arsenal to fill the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. These eight batteries, together with the First Battery and the Tenth Battery, made a total of ten Batteries of Light Artillery furnished by the State of Rhode Island during the Civil War. The units saw and endured some of the bloodiest and most bitter fighting of that tragic conflict. Their efforts won for the 103d Field Artillery it's first battle streamers.

After peace was restored on 9 April 1865, Rhode Island Batteries were released from Federal service and return to their home state. During the following thirty years, units went through the typical peacetime problems of reorganizing, training, and attempting to be ready for what ever came next.

During the Spanish-American War in 1898, Light Battery A, 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Artillery was mustered for foreign service at Quonset Point, however, they never served overseas before peace was restored.

While the nation watched, World War I began to unfold in Europe. In 1916, General John J. Pershing led an expeditionary force against Poncho Villa. Light Battery A, Rhode Island Field Artillery, was called into federal service 19 June 1916 for duty with General Pershing during the Mexican Border conflict.

In 1917, after three years of brutal fighting, the United States was drawn into World War I. By 1918, the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) was a reality. From Rhode Island went Battery A, Rhode Island Field Artillery, which was expanded to form the 1st Separate Battalion, Rhode Island Field Artillery. It was then reorganized and redesignated to form the 1st Battalion, 103d Field Artillery, an element of the 26th "Yankee" Division.

As war clouds gathered over Europe and Asia during the 1930's, the 103d was again expanded to a full regiment by adding a second battalion from the consolidation of the 1st Separate Squadron, Rhode Island Cavalry. The 1st Separate Squadron had existed as horse cavalry (under different unit designations) as early as 1842 and much of the units history paralleled the field artillery units. These units, all tolled, participated in the Dorr Rebellion, Civil War, Mexican Border and World War I. In 1940, the United States began a period of national readiness. National Guard and Reserve units were Federalized for intensive training periods, and the first peacetime draft was instituted. Again, the 103d Field Artillery was called upon to defend the nation. The 103d Field Artillery was inducted into federal service as an element of the 43rd Division on 24 February 1941.

The Regiment was broken up 19 February 1942 and it's units reorganized and redesignated as follows: HQ 103d FA Regiment to 43d Reconnaissance Company; 1st battalion to 103d FA Battalion; and 2nd battalion to 169th FA Battalion, as elements of the 43rd Infantry Division.

In 1950, during the Korean War, the 103d Field Artillery was mobilized and inducted into Federal service. Their mission was to reinforce United States Army units maintaining peace along the East and West German borders.

In the early '60's, the battalion were again reorganized as the 1st and 2nd battalion and a third battalion was added from units of the 1st and 2nd battalion of the 243d Artillery

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:16:40 ZULU