The Rainbow Division in the Great War, 1917-1919

By James J. Cooke | Go to book overview

FROM CHAMPAGNE TO THE MARNE

For the 167th Alabama, the very name Champagne conjured up visions of rolling hills, vineyards, and bottles of the bubbly fruit of the vine. Joe Romano, Ashton Croft, and Jolui Hayes were glad enough to be out of the Baccarat trenches and looked forward to moving into the open country. Spring was in full bloom, and in areas not touched by the war the countryside was beautiful. 1 Charles MacArthur had some doubts about the move, however. The Illinois artillery rumor mill had it that the Rainbow was going to Chateau Thierry to fight alongside the U.S. Marines. The Rainbow and the leathernecks had developed a mutual dislike, and whenever possible the two would wade into each other with fists flying.

It seems that at some point Rainbow soldiers had run afoul of the Marine Military Police, and after 140 days in the trenches, the men of the 42nd were tired of reading and hearing about the exploits of the "Fighting Few." 2 Whenever the Marines of the 2nd Division would pass the Rainbow, verbal taunts and abuse flew. "What's the brightest color in the Rainbow?" some Marine would holler.

"Yellow!" another would respond, and the fight was on. 3

By June, the Rainbows had become veteran fighters with a very high reputation among the French. Only the 1st Division, the Big Red One, and the National Guard's 26th Yankee Division would spend more time in Europe than the Rainbow, with the 2nd Division coming in a close fourth. 4 After so many days in the trenches, the spring weather and the resiliance of youth took over. Only veteran fighters like the Rainbow and the Marines of the 2nd Indianhead Division could go after each other with such gusto.

This move took well over four days by 40-and-8s, and then there was time to rest before beginning a new assignment. The mission for the 42nd Division was a defensive one in Champagne, the Rainbow coming under the 4th French Army, commanded by one of the most colorful characters and experienced soldiers France produced during the war--GeneralHenri Joseph Eugène

-97-

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The Rainbow Division in the Great War, 1917-1919
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • INTRODUCTION BIRTH OF THE RAINBOW 1
  • 1 - From Camp Mills to France 7
  • Notes 24
  • 2 - Training for the Fight: Rolampont 29
  • Notes 48
  • 3 - In the Trenches at Lunéville 53
  • Notes 71
  • 4 - From Baccarat to Champagne 75
  • Notes 94
  • From Champagne to the Marne 97
  • Notes 113
  • 6 - Crossing the Ourcq River 117
  • Notes 135
  • 7 - The St. Mihiel Offensive 139
  • Notes 159
  • 8 - The Meuse-Argonne Campaign 163
  • Notes 182
  • 9 - From Sedan to Belgium and Luxembourg 187
  • Notes 205
  • 10 - Rainbow on the Rhine 209
  • Notes 228
  • 11 - The End of the Rainbow 233
  • Notes 245
  • APPENDIX A ORGANIZATION OF THE 42ND DIVISION, 1917 247
  • APPENDIX B EQUIPMENT TAKEN INTO TRENCHES, FEBRUARY 1918 251
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 261
  • About the Author 272
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