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1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment
"Iron Rangers"

The 16th Infantry were originally formed in 1869. They carried 12 campaign streamers from the Civil War through their lineage with the 11th Infantry. The 11th and 34th Infantry Regiments consolidated into the 16th Infantry Regiment on 3 March 1869. The 11th Infantry, organized 4 May 1861, had battle streamers for Gaines Mill, Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Lauren Hill, Spottsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad and Chapel House. The 34th Infantry (which had been the 3rd Battalion of the Civil War 16th Infantry) had banners for Shiloh, Murfeesboro, Chickamuaga, Missionary Ridge, New Hope Church, Kenesaw Mountain, Neal Dow Station, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta and Joesboro. Both Regiments were doomed to lose their designations for the new Regiment was numbered the 16th, and were consolidated by merging the enlisted men of one Regiment with the company of the same letter of the other, and assigning the officers by rank as provided by the order of consolidation.

The new Regiment thus formed was stationed at 6 different posts, engaging in assisting the civil authorities in carrying out the provisions of the Reconstruction Act of Congress. The headquarters of the Regiment, with Companies D and I, was at Grenada, Mississippi. The lieutenant colonel was located with Companies B, E and G at Jackson, Mississippi. The major was located with Companies C and F at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Company A was located at Nanchez, Mississippi, H at Lauderdale, Mississippi, and K at Corinth, Tennessee.

Reconstruction duty was considered by most of the Regimental soldiers as a disagreeable task from 1869 to 1877. The companies of the Regiment were called upon to act in unison only 3 times during the period mentioned. Once when Companies B, E, F, G, I and K made a march in October, November and December, 1870 through Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina for the suppression of the Ku Klux Klan. Again, when Companies C and I, under the command of Captain Thomas Rose during the Brooks-Baxter political imbroglio at Little Rock, prevented what threatened at one time to become a most serious outbreak. This occurrence attracted, at the time, the attention of the nation. Fears were entertained that it might prove to be a national disaster, but the determined and energetic action of the commander, who already had a national reputation for energy, skill and nerve, averted the calamity without bloodshed. The third time was when all of the Regiment, except Company H, was concentrated at New Orleans during the Packard-Nichols troubles in 1876.

In 1877 the Regiment was for the first time called to leave the Southern States and all the political complications involved in service there, it crossed the Mississippi and commenced a new career in Indian country. Headquarters, with Companies A, C and H were stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas; K at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory; B and D at Fort Sill, Indian Territory; E and I at Fort Reno, Indian Territory; F at Fort Wallace, Kansas and G at Fort Hayes first and subsequently at Fort Wallace. For 3 more years the Regiment was stationed as above, except that I and K exchanged stations. During this time, companies D and H went with General Buell in the Victorie campaign through New Mexico. Company H was detached and went as escort with a railroad surveying party through Arizona. Companies F and G were engaged in the pursuit of Cheyenne Indians who escaped from the Indian Territories and were not captured till they got to the sandhills near Ft. Robinson, Nebraska. Company A was engaged with these same Indians below Ft. Dodge, Kansas. Companies C and G were with General Ronald Mackenzie in the campaign of 1870-80 and Company F made a campaign against the Utes into middle Colorado.

In 1880 the Regiment was ordered to Texas and was stationed as follows: Headquarters and Company F first at San Antonio, but soon afterward with D, E, G, H, I, and K at Ft. McKavett; A, B, C, and I at Ft. Concho.

In June 1888 the Regiment was moved to the Department of the Platte. Headquarters, with B, D, E, G, H, and I being stationed at Ft. Douglas and A, C, F, and K at Ft. Duchesne, Utah. While stationed at these posts Companies D, E, G, and H were engaged in the campaign against the Sioux Indians in 1891.

With peace restored in the West, elements of three Regiments were scattered about various garrisons throughout the newly settled West. Garrison life with its monotony filled the years until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.

Battalions and companies were assembled at Tampa, Florida in May of 1898. Very shortly it was one of the first American organizations to disembark at Siboney, Cuba. Almost immediately the Regiment plunged into the short, bloody Cuban campaign. On 1 July 1898 it lost 7 officers and 112 enlisted men at the "Bloody Ford" at the base of San Juan Hill. Despite severe losses, the 16th Infantry assaulted the famous ridge and it was 2 of its first men who planted the first American flag to fly from the Spanish blockhouse on the hill.

Decimated by the roll of many battles and fever-ridden, the 16th returned to Montauk Point, Long Island, New York, in August 1898. Less than half its strength remained available for duty. The Regiment went into camp. Duration-of-war men were discharged. Recruiting began and full time peace strength was built up. A move was made to originally camp in Alabama, then sent piecemeal to Fort Crook, Leavenworth, and Jefferson Barracks.

Training of the new men went on at this station until the summer of 1899 when the 16th Infantry embarked for its first tour of duty in the Philippines. In these tropic islands the Spaniards had relinquished their rule, but fierce Filipino insurgents battled for release not only from domination by the Spaniards, but also from any hint of government by the United States. For 2 years the 16th trekked over tortuous mountain trails and hacked its way through thick tropical jungles. In that time, it fought 27 engagements.

Back to the United States in 1901, the normal course of garrison duties was resumed at Ft. MacPherson, GA. The campaigns in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, and the Mexican expedition resulted in an additional 7 campaign streamers being added to the Regimental standard.

With the US entry into World War I the 16th began its association with the 1st Infantry Division. The 16th was one of the 4 original Infantry Regiments used to form the Division in June 1917. The 16th became the first unit to engage the enemy in battle and was the first to spill its blood on French soil. On 3 November 1917 the first 3 Americans killed by the enemy were Corporal James B. Gresham, PVT Thomas F. Enright and PVT Mark D. Hay, all of F Company, 16th Infantry. In addition 1 sergeant and 10 privates were taken prisoners.

During the battle for Cantigny in May 1918, which was the first major offensive action for the American army, the 16th Infantry was called upon to relieve the 28th and 18th Regiments and to consolidate the new front in spite of determined efforts by the Germans to recapture the town. This action cost the 16th Infantry 372 casualties. Near Fleville, France, the 16th gained 7 miles in a single day and was the only Allied unit to take its objective during the opening drive of the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. Despite the vicious German counterattacks to retake the town on 4 October, the 16th Infantry was able to hold on.

With the armistice going into effect at 1100, 11 November 1918, the war to end all wars was over. The 1st Division, along with the 16th Infantry, would remain as occupational forces. On 1 December 1918, the 1st Infantry Division for the first time marched on German soil. The march into Germany took 27 days, during which a distance of more than 200 miles was covered.

Returning home in September 1919, the Regiment was stationed at Fort Jay, New York on Governer's Island. During the war the 16th Infantry took part in every major campaign that the 1st Division conducted and added seven more campaign streamers to its colors.

The breakout of war in Europe in September 1939 found the 1st Division scattered among the various garrisons of the Atlantic seaboard. In February 1941 the Division was brought together at Fort Devens, Massachusetts for maneuvers and training. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the 1st Infantry Division's training intensified. The 16th Infantry and the rest of the Division moved to Camp Blanding, Florida for amphibious training and then to Ft. Benning, Georgia for additional division level training.

The Regiment sailed to England and then to Scotland in August 1942 for training in preparation of the first major offensive operation of the European theatre. The 16th Infantry received their baptism of fire during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, on 8 November 1942. The city of Oran, Algeria was the original objective of the Regiment and after 3 days of fighting it was secured. For the next 6 months, the 1st Division participated in the Allied effort to force the Axis out of North Africa, and participated in several key actions to include Kasserine Pass and the Tunisian Campaign. Due to its heroic stand at Kasserine, the 16th Infantry received the French Croix de Guerre, and also received its first Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Mateur, Tunisia.

With Sicily secured, the 16th returned to England where it prepared for its third amphibious assault landing of the war-Operation Overlord, the landing at Omaha Beach.

On D Day, 6 June 1944, soon after the 11th hour the 16th Infantry was fighting for its very life on a strip of beach marked East Red. By early evening the Regiment had obtained its objective after suffering heavy casualties, but was preparing to push forward. The day was truly the longest day and individual courage was the mark of the 16th Infantry. By nightfall, the 16th Infantry had earned its third Presidential Unit Citation, its second Croix de Guerre and 2 soldiers (1LT Jimmie Montieth and Tech 5 John Pinder) had earned the Medal of Honor.

During the weeks that followed, the 16th Infantry moved through the Normandy hedgerows, raced across France and Belgium, breached the Siegfried Line on 15 September 1944 and attacked the first major German city. After days of fighting the German commander surrendered the rubble of Achen to 1st Division on 21 October 1944.

On 16 December 1944 the Germans launched a massive counter-attack in the Ardennes Sector. On 15 January 1945 the 16th Infantry was once again on the attack. This time the Regiment would continue its drive across Germany, crossing the Rhine River for the second time in its history on 16 March 1945. On 8 April 1945 the Regiment crossed the Weser River into Czecholslovakia.

On 8 May 1945, the war ended for the 16th Infantry after 443 days of combat. In addition to those already noted, the Regiment was awarded 6 more combat streamers. Additionally, the 16th Infantry was awarded the Medaille Militaire with streamer embroidered "France," the French Medaille Militaire Fourragere and the Belgium Fourragere. Two more Presidential Unit Citations for Hurtgen Forest and Hamich Germany were awarded to the Regiment.

Post war, the 16th Infantry was once again part of the Occupation Force. In 1948 the Regiment assembled at Grafenwoehr for division maneuvers. In the summer of 1955 the 1st Division was replaced by the 10th Mountain Division in Operation Gyroscope, and after 13 years of overseas duty the 16th Infantry would again call Fort Riley its home.

The growing conflict in Vietnam lead to the 16th Infantry's deployment once again with the Big Red One to a combat theater. In 5 years of conflict, elements of the 16th Infantry Regiment participated in 11 campaigns and was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Vietnamese Civil Action Honor Medal. From the return of the 1st Infantry Division from Vietnam in April 1970 until the deployment to Saudi Arabia in November 1990 the 16th Infantry was at Fort Riley enjoying 20 years of peace. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Regiment participated in training within the United States and REFORGER exercises in Germany. Also, during this time active Battalions expanded to 5 under the new US Army Regimental System. The 1st Battalion, along with the 4th Battalion in Germany as part of the 1st Infantry Division (Forward).

Elements of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1999 and 2000 as part of Operation Joint Force, under NATO's Stabilization Force 6 (SFOR 6).

The 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry particiapted in the initial operations in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom beginning in March 2003. During this deployment, 1-16th Infantry was attached to the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.

In March 2006 elements of Headquarters and Headquarters Company and A Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment deployed as part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). The rest of the Battalion remained at Fort Riley where it continued to participate in the 1st Brigade's training mission.

In 2007 elements of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry were deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:17:31 ZULU