Why was the Kamchatka Regiment sent?

Why was the Kamchatka Regiment sent?

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About 1800, Major-General Andrey Somov headed a regiment sent from Irkutsk to reinforce Kamchatka. Soldiers were to take up positions in about five garrisons around the peninsula. Feeding them was a major expense, so they were ordered to try to grow crops on arrival. They brought an epidemic of Typhus fever.

James Gibson held in a footnote in Feeding the Russian Fur Trade that the regiment was sent due to "the Napoleonic threat". Napoleon was not crowned until 1804 but Russia did fight France in the War of the Second Coalition (1798-1802). Action reached Egypt and Syria but none of that war's engagements were any farther from Europe.

Janus Paal wrote that Russia was alarmed about the visits of foreign ships to Kamchatka. Decades previous, Captain Cook's last voyage and La Perouse had both stopped in Petropavlovsk, ostensibly on scientific missions. I'm not sure if there were any foreign visits in the last decade of the 18th Century.

Was Russia truly concerned that France might seize Kamchatka?

(Note: I'm not very knowledgeable about this period in Russia. I'm piecing this together from a few sources.)

Somov's regiment was not sent due to the Napoleonic threat, but was part of the existing task of defending the enormous and sparsely populated Russian frontier.

In the larger context of the Russian Empire in 1800 this makes more sense. Russia is very large and had threats on all sides: "Tartar, Turk, Pole, Prussian and Swede" and now the French. Transporting an army in 1800 was very slow, mobilization could take months. Russia was too large to have a centrally located "reaction force" to respond to crisis. They had to have units in prepared positions near every potential hot spot to slow an invasion, or react to a raid, or put down a rebellion.

While they faced large, traditional, concentrated Western armies on in the West, in the east and south they faced disbursed raiding parties of Turks and Tartars. The southern and eastern fronts of Russia in 1800 were more like the frontier armies of the United States than the armies of Napoleon. They filled many governmental roles in sparsely populated areas: military garrison, police, civil engineers, and labor force.

To deal with this, Peter the Great instituted large standing armies and deployed them to potential trouble spots. Supplying and concentrating them across such large distances, and such sparsely populated land particularly in the east, was difficult. Catherine the Great dealt with this by creating a Military Commission who created administrative divisions close to the areas being defended. A large mass of troops was garrisoned in Moscow, centrally located on the Russian transport system, to quickly (for the time) reinforce hot spots. Tsar Paul further organized divisions into "Inspectorates" to deal with corruption. The divisions would now be overseen by inspectors reporting directly to the Tsar.

"Somov's Regiment" raised and sent one or two battalions to Kamchatka for what became the Kamchatskii Garnizonnyi batalion (Kamchatka Garrison Battalion). This was part of the larger Siberia Inspectorate of about 10 battalions in 1796. It was assigned certain hamlets, "cantons", which they defended, aided, and relied upon. Soldiers would help with the labor and farming in exchange for supplies and shelter. In addition, the regimental commander acted as a military government, parallel to the civilian one, within their territory.


There is a potential that this is true.

First (as mentioned in the comments) Russian intelligence was suspect at times leading to events such as What made the Russian Fleet suspect Japanese Torpedo boats were in North Sea in 1904/5?

What the Russians may have been reacting to here is Napoleon in Egypt and his 1798 - 1801 campaign there. Napoleon entered Egypt and advanced into Syria, most likely with the goal of marching a French/Ottoman army into India to aid the Maratha empire with their struggles vs the British. If Napoleon could challenge and ultimately usurp British rule in India, then Napoleon could have asserted French control over India. French control of India would be a stepping point to Kamchatka (though I doubt the intent was ever there).

Unfortunately for Napoleon, the English captured his ships carrying his artillery and the military campaign was halted in Acre forcing Napoleon to turn back, so the event they (may have been) reacting to never came to be.

1906 Cuban Pacification Campaign

The Cuban republic was established after the 1898 Spanish-American War. In 1901 the Platt Amendment, a rider attached to the Army Appropriations Bill of 1901, stipulated the conditions for U.S. intervention in Cuba that virtually made the island an U.S. protectorate. Under the terms of this bill the United States established - and retains to this day - a naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

Revolution broke out in Cuba in 1906, and a Marine expeditionary force was sent to the island to establish and maintain law and order. In mid-1906 Cuban internal strife caused the United States to invoke the Platt Amendment and send troops to the island nation in an attempt to restore order. William Howard Taft, now Secretary-of-War, sent his Philippine Insurrection veterans, the experienced 11 Cavalry Regiment under the command of Colonel Earl D. Thomas, 2nd COLONEL OF THE REGIMENT.

As part of this force, the 4th Expeditionary Battalion was formed at League Island, Pennsylvania, on 27 September 1906. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Franklin J. Moses, the battalion sailed for Cuba, arriving at Camp Columbia on 8 October. Here, it was reorganized and redesignated 2d Regiment, 1st Expeditionary Brigade. Order was soon restored, and upon the arrival of United States Army troops as occupation forces, the 2d Regiment was disbanded on 31 October. The major portion of its personnel became part of the newly created 1st Provisional Regiment stationed in Cuba for duty with the Army forces.

Pulled from its annual maneuvers at Fort Riley, Kansas, First Squadron returned to Fort Des Moines while the balance of the regiment left for Cuba by way of Newport News. The regiment arrived in Havana ahead of its horses on 16 October 1906 and set up base camp outside the city. A storm with hurricane force winds struck the next day, destroying the camp and battering the ships still at sea so badly that over 200 mounts were killed. The troopers of the day quickly recovered and assumed control of western Cuba. Regimental Headquarters was established in Pinar del Rio after a 29 hour/110 mile force march by Troop F. The mission of the 11th Cavalry was to 'show the flag' by conducting mounted patrols throughout the countryside between the villages. While in Cuba the regiment was joined by its new commander, Colonel James Parker, 3rd COLONEL OF THE REGIMENT.

"Galloping Jim" (the longest serving Colonel) continued peacekeeping operations during the Regiment's two-year stay, demonstrating to the natives that the US Army's Cavalry was ready for any and all eventualities. Although conflict is at times inevitable, the 11th Cavalry Regiment best serves the country when it commands respect and thereby averts war through a show of strength. This will be repeated time and again throughout the history of the regiment.

Why was the Kamchatka Regiment sent? - History

By MATTHEW M. BURKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 5, 2018

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Army Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright ordered the surrender of U.S. forces in the Philippines on May 6, 1942, following an overwhelming six-month Japanese onslaught.

Marine Col. Sam Howard — commander of the 4th Marine Regiment — ordered the national and regimental colors burned rather than see them fall into enemy hands. The Marines reluctantly went into a brutal captivity at the hands of the Japanese.

The 4th Marine Regiment hasn’t been stationed in the continental United States since then. It is the only regiment whose lineage is rooted on the American mainland to deploy to the Pacific and never be rotated back, Marine officials said.

Rumors have swirled among Marines that the regiment is doomed to wander the Pacific — much like the mythical ghost ship The Flying Dutchman — due to the dishonor over surrendering. It is the largest organized Marine unit to ever do so in battle.

Before elements of the regiment traveled to South Korea recently for exercises Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, current 4th Marine Regiment commander Col. Kevin Norton pushed back against that myth, saying it is because of honor, not dishonor, that his Marines are stewards of the Pacific.

“Like most things, there’s rumor and misconception,” said Norton, who has spent more than 10 years with the regiment in various leadership positions. “We were still reeling from Pearl Harbor and we had to pick and choose where we were going to send forces to, so in many ways, the Marines and the U.S. Army and the Filipinos kind of got left hung out to dry a little bit out of necessity, because the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army had to kind of get their act together and mobilize in order to get over here.”

The 4th Marine Regiment was activated at Puget Sound, Wash., on April 16, 1914, with Col. Joseph Pendleton — namesake for Camp Pendleton, Calif. — as its inaugural commanding officer. The unit’s first duty station was San Diego.

In June 1916, 4th Marines was dispatched to the Dominican Republic to intervene on behalf of the government in their civil war, the Marine Corps said. This would be the first time the unit would see combat, and it was awarded two Medals of Honor for heroism.

The unit was then dispatched to Shanghai, China, in March 1927 to protect American interests in the face of yet another civil war. Known as the “China Marines,” they stayed in country for nearly 15 years.

The China Marines departed for the Philippines on Nov. 27 and 28, 1941, after being surrounded by the invading Japanese. They had been in the Philippines for nine days when the Japanese attacked to coincide with the attack on Pearl Harbor.


The 4th Marine Regiment engaged the Japanese for the first time on Dec. 12, 1941, the Marine Corps said. After arriving at Subic Bay, it had been tasked with guarding Olongapo Naval Station and a naval base at Mariveles.

As the Japanese bore down on Manila from the north and defeat seemed all but assured, 4th Marines in Olongapo evacuated to Mariveles and then to Corregidor, the fortified island off the southern coast of the Bataan Peninsula. They prepared and strengthened defensive positions as the Japanese closed in.

The Japanese made landfall on Corregidor Island on May 5, 1942, the Marine Corps said. The regiment inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese invaders, decimating the first two attempted landings however, they were no match for Japanese planes, tanks and Bataan-based artillery. The Japanese gained a foothold on the beach and expanded it, pushing toward Wainwright’s headquarters.

The Marines lost all of their heavy guns and were almost out of ammunition. All seemed lost.

“Feeling that further resistance was useless and fearing a possible massacre of 1,000 sick and wounded personnel in Malinta Tunnel, Gen. Wainwright decided to surrender,” a unit history said.

Isolated pockets of Marines continued to fight four hours after the surrender went into effect, until news of the order trickled down.

“The Marines were beside themselves,” Norton said. “They fought valiantly for several days and then ultimately Gen. Wainwright ordered the surrender because the higher headquarters folks were inside of a tunnel and they didn’t have all the information and the communications had been severed.”

Norton said Wainwright did what he thought was right, and the Marines had to follow orders. The 4th Marine Regiment ceased to exist.

“I don’t think the United States nor Gen. Wainwright understood how the Japanese were going to view prisoners,” Norton said. “There were some big-time atrocities. There were executions regularly. It was a brutal captivity. Most of those Marines who we refer to as the ‘old 4th Marine Regiment’ spent all of World War II in prisoner of war camps or they simply died in POW camps it was that horrific.”

Proud lineage

While Howard’s Marines tried to stay alive in brutal prison conditions, the 4th Marines was resurrected Feb. 1, 1944, with members of the 1st Marine Raider Regiment, a commando-style unit that had fought with distinction in the Makin Island, Guadalcanal, Central Solomons and Bougainville campaigns.

“If you talk to World War II vets, there was such a proud lineage of the 4th Marines that it was a big deal for them to rename that Raider regiment the 4th Marines,” Norton said.

The “new” 4th Marines participated in the recapturing of Guam and the seizure of Okinawa at the cost of 4,000 of their lives, the Marine Corps said. World War II ended with Japan’s surrender Aug. 15, 1945, following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The 4th Marines — who were awarded five Medals of Honor for service during the war — were chosen as the first American combat unit to land in Japan for the occupation. They were there to welcome the “old” 4th Marines, emaciated and in poor health, as they were liberated from POW camps.

“They held a parade for many of the prisoners,” Norton said. “It was a good homecoming for those guys because they realized the regiment was still alive.”

The 4th Marines was deactivated in 1949 only to be reactivated three years later for the Korean War. However, they arrived in Japan after the armistice that ended the conflict was signed. They were sent to Hawaii, the closest they would ever get to the continental United States.

Through the years, the regiment has served with distinction in combat in Vietnam and through advisers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to nearly another dozen Medals of Honor. They were the last Marine regiment to depart Vietnam in 1969 and have been on Okinawa ever since.

Today, 4th Marines is the anchor for the unit deployment program, accepting stateside battalions into their ranks on six-month rotations to the Pacific.

“Unlike units stationed in the United States permanently, we’re kind of on the tippy, tippy part of the spear and our readiness is at the highest levels permanently,” Norton said.

“When the Marines really learn the history, all that rumor and conjecture of, ‘Hey, the surrender was dishonorable,’ you just have a totally different perception … the Marines had nothing to do with the surrender. There was no dishonor in it.”

U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal

On August 7, 1942, the U.S. 1st Marine Division begins Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. offensive of the war, by landing on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands.

Weeks earlier, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island and began constructing an airfield there. Operation Watchtower was the codename for the U.S. plan to invade Guadalcanal and the surrounding islands. During the attack, American troops landed on five islands within the Solomon chain. Although the invasion came as a complete surprise to the Japanese (bad weather had grounded their scouting aircraft), the landings on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu and Tananbogo met much initial opposition from the Japanese defenders.

But the Americans who landed on Guadalcanal met little resistance𠅊t least at first. More than 11,000 Marines had landed, and 24 hours had passed, before the Japanese manning the garrison there knew of the attack. The U.S. forces quickly took their main objective, the airfield, and the outnumbered Japanese troops retreated, but not for long. Reinforcements were brought in, and fierce hand-to-hand jungle fighting ensued. “I have never heard or read of this kind of fighting,” wrote one American major general on the scene. “These people refuse to surrender.”

The Americans were at a particular disadvantage, being assaulted from both the sea and air. But the U.S. Navy was able to reinforce its troops to a greater extent, and by February 1943, the Japanese had retreated on secret orders of their emperor (so secret, the Americans did not even know it had taken place until they began happening upon abandoned positions, empty boats, and discarded supplies). In total, the Japanese had lost more than 25,000 men, compared with a loss of 1,600 by the Americans. Each side lost 24 warships.

The first Medal of Honor given to a Marine was awarded to Sgt. John Basilone for his fighting during Operation Watchtower. According to the recommendation for his medal, he 𠇌ontributed materially to the defeat and virtually the annihilation of a Japanese regiment.”

“To make was against Alyutor Bolshoi Posad”

Until recently, the siege and conquest of Alyutor Bolshoi Posad has been described in very general terms, mostly by A. Petrov in his brief replies. It is difficult to judge from them what kind of settlement it was, how many people lived there or how the siege unfolded. The scarcity of truthful information is attributed to the fact that Petrov himself and most of the service men of his detachment were killed after the defeat of the Alyutor fortresses by rebel Yukaghirs, who had been Russian allies in this campaign later, the Koryaks joined the rebels. In this situation, the Anadyr and Yakutsk authorities did not feel much like ascertaining the details of the defeat of Bolshoi Posad, which had been plaguing them so much.

Academic literature has given a very general overview of Bolshoi Posad and its destruction. For example, I. S. Vdovin in his book on the ethnic history of the Koryaks (1973) summarized all the events of 1714 just in one sentence: “During one of the skirmishes of Kamchatka Cossacks supported by Alyutors, residents of the village of Kultushnoye, the ‘Bolshoi Alyutor fortress’ was completely destroyed.” Many authors refer to Bolshoi Posad as a “small fortress.”

This is what Atamanov and Lvov told about this settlement. The Alyutor Bolshoi Posad was built on the coast of a bay, on a high rocky mountain washed with waters on two sides (in that place, the mountain was 30 sazhens, or 60 meters high). On the third side, the approach to the fortress was blocked by a small bay with a river flowing into it (the mountain there was lower, about 20 sazhens but very steep) so one could only approach the fortress from mainland, along a gentle slope 10 sazhen high.

Sled dogs were the only reliable means of winter transport on Kamchatka: in 1876, there were about 10,000 registered dogs there! Dog sleds were not as fast as reindeer sleds but did not require special care, and therefore, were valued highly. When breeding dogs, Koryaks preferred a kind word to a stick coastal Koryaks used to build log huts for she-dogs and puppies. Apart from being draught animals, dogs were offered as sacrifice, helped to hunt, and their skins were used to make clothes

The defense works of the fortress included, firstly, a four-cornered wall with the sides 50 sazhen long (according to Lvov) or 100 sazhen long (according to Atamanov). We believe that Lvov’s estimate is more correct as it is difficult to imagine that the area of the fortress exceeded 4.5 hectares even with 50 sazhen long walls, its area was over 1 hectare. The wall consisted of the exterior and interior earth mounds covered with turf the mounds were crowned with a fence made of two rows of poles, and space between them (71 centimeters) was filled with earth, pebbles and rocks. The wall was over 2 sazhens (4 meters) high. This was the lower fortress on its corners, there were special “outlets” on the poles, from where one could shell the enemy who has come close to the walls.

Leading into the fortress through the mounds and walls with a total thickness of 2.5 sazhens were three serpentine gates (their shape was meant to prevent cannonballs from getting inside the fortification in case of direct fire). Behind the walls of the lower fortress, there was another one, a smaller fortress called the upper, which represented the second line of defense with 1 sazhen high walls lined with turf from the inside.

The walls of both lower and upper fortresses had loopholes hung with grass. Inside the fortress were 40 winter huts (these must have been traditional semi-pit-houses) in the form of squares with 4 to 10 (according to Atamanov, 7—8) sazhen long sides, as well as summer “treehouses” erected on high poles. Approaches to the summer shelters were blocked by a wall of boat hulls lined with turf. Since there were no forests with big trees near Bolshoi Posad, we can suppose that the poles were made of driftwood, which can come to this shore even from North America.

We can give only a rough estimate of the number of people living in the fortress. Atamanov reported, "There were about 1,500 men there fit to go to war, without women and children.” Lvov also estimated the male population at 1,500 people including 700 “good warriors” plus youngsters and peasants (young boys and old men did not count). If we use the accepted methods of estimating the total indigenous population, i. e. multiply by four the number of yasak payers or the number of warriors, we will see that the overall population of the fortress must have reached four to six thousand people.

At first sight, these numbers seem incredible. Historians estimated the Alyutor Koryaks’ population in the early 18th c. on the basis of the data obtained in the middle of that century, when the first synthesis reports on the number of yasak Alyutors emerged. According to B. O. Dolgikh (1960), in the late 17th – ​early 18th c. there were 1,025 Alyutors. I. S. Gurvich (1966) considered this number to be understated and not taking into account the Koryaks’ losses because of the military expeditions conducted by Anadyr service men. His estimate of the Alyutor population in the beginning of the century is 1,300 people. These researchers, however, did not see the data supplied to Müller by his informants. Moreover, let us not forget that Bolshoi Posad, though the largest, was not the only Alyutor settlement: in 1704, the Kamchatka governor V. Kolesov counted nine Alyutor fortresses.

It is entirely possible the Müller’s informants overestimated the enemy headcount (which was general practice), but anyway Alyutor Bolshoi Posad was the largest aboriginal settlement in Siberia in the first half of the 18th c. In terms of the population, size and fortifications it could compete not only with the Russian fortresses and industrial settlements based in Siberia but also with towns, such as Narym, Nerchinsk, Selenginsk, Turukhansk, Pelym and Surgut. Contemporaries who had seen Bolshoi Posad before its destruction were undoubtedly impressed by its size and impregnability. It is noteworthy that the Russian service men did not call it a small town or a small fortress, which were typical names for aboriginal fortified settlements, but referred to it as “posad,” a word used to denote Russian urban settlements.


The 29th Division was first constituted on paper 18 July 1917, three months after the American entry into World War I, in the U.S. Army National Guard. [6] : 319 The division's infantry units were the 57th Infantry Brigade, made up of the 113th and 114th Infantry Regiments, both from New Jersey, and the 58th Infantry Brigade, made up of the 115th Infantry Regiment from Maryland and 116th Infantry Regiment from Virginia. Its artillery units were Maryland's 110th Artillery Regiment Virginia's 111th Field Artillery Regiment and New Jersey's 112th Field Artillery Regiment. As the division was composed of men from states that had units that fought for both the North and South during the Civil War, it was nicknamed the "Blue and Gray" division, after the blue uniforms of the Union and the gray uniforms of the Confederate armies during the American Civil War. [7] The division was organized as a unit on 25 August 1917 at Camp McClellan, Alabama. [6] : 319

World War I Edit

The division departed for the Western Front in June 1918 to join the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). [8] The division's advance detachment reached Brest, France on 8 June. In late September, the 29th received orders to join the U.S. First Army's Meuse-Argonne Offensive as part of the French XVII Corps. During its 21 days in combat, [9] the 29th Division advanced seven kilometers, captured 2,148 prisoners, and knocked out over 250 machine guns or artillery pieces. Thirty percent of the division became casualties—170 officers and 5,691 enlisted men were killed or wounded. [10] Shortly thereafter the Armistice with Germany was signed on 11 November 1918, ending hostilities between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers. The division returned to the United States in May 1919. [8] It demobilized on 30 May at Camp Dix, New Jersey, [6] : 319

Order of battle, 1917-1918 Edit

  • Headquarters, 29th Division
  • 57th Infantry Brigade
  • 111th Machine Gun Battalion
    (75 mm) (75 mm) (155 mm)
  • 104th Trench Mortar Battery
  • 104th Ammunition Train
  • 104th Supply Train
  • 104th Engineer Train
  • 104th Sanitary Train
    • 113th, 114th, 115th, and 116th Ambulance Companies and Field Hospitals

    Interwar period Edit

    The 29th was reconstituted in the National Guard in 1921, assigned to the III Corps, and allotted to the states of Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Since Virginia could not form one of the division's artillery units under the restricted National Guard manpower program, a formerly non-divisional unit from Pennsylvania was substituted instead. The division trained as a unit during the 1935 First Army maneuvers at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and during the 1939 First Army maneuvers at Manassas, Virginia.

    Order of battle, 1939 Edit

    • Headquarters, 29th Division (Washington, D.C.)
    • Headquarters, Special Troops, 29th Division (Washington, D.C.)
      • Headquarters Company, 29th Division (Washington, D.C.)
      • 29th Military Police Company (Washington, D.C.)
      • 29th Signal Company (Norfolk, VA)
      • 104th Ordnance Company (Medium) (Washington, D.C.)
      • 29th Tank Company (Light) (Danville, VA)
        (Frederick, MD) (Baltimore, MD)
      • 1st Infantry Regiment (VA) (Richmond, VA)
      • 116th Infantry Regiment (Lynchburg, VA)
      • 104th Ammunition Train (Virginia National Guard)
      • 110th Field Artillery Regiment (75 mm) (Pikesville, MD)
      • 111th Field Artillery Regiment (75 mm) (Hampton, VA)
      • 176th Field Artillery Regiment (155 mm) (Pittsburgh, PA)

      Italics indicates state of headquarters allocation headquarters not organized or inactive.

      World War II Edit

      At the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Army began buildup and reorganization of its fighting forces. The division was called into active service on 3 February 1941. [8] Elements of the division were then sent to Fort Meade, Maryland for training. [10] The 57th and 58th Infantry Brigades were inactivated as part of an army-wide removal of brigades from divisions. [11] : 159 Instead, the core units of the division were its three infantry regiments, along with supporting units. On 12 March 1942, over three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent American entrance into World War II, with this reorganization complete the division was redesignated as the 29th Infantry Division and began preparing for overseas deployment to Europe. [6] : 320

      Order of battle, 1943-1945 Edit

      • Headquarters, 29th Infantry Division
      • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 29th Infantry Division Artillery
        • 110th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
        • 111th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
        • 224th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
        • 227th Field Artillery Battalion (155 mm)
        • Headquarters Company, 29th Infantry Division
        • 729th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
        • 29th Quartermaster Company
        • 29th Signal Company
        • Military Police Platoon
        • Band

        The 29th Infantry Division, under the command of Major General Leonard Gerow, was sent to England on 5 October 1942 on RMS Queen Mary. [8] It was based throughout England and Scotland, where it immediately began training for an invasion of northern Europe across the English Channel. In May 1943 the division moved to the Devon–Cornwall peninsula and started conducting simulated attacks against fortified positions. [10] At this time the division was assigned to V Corps of the U.S. First Army. [12] [13] : 30 In July the divisional commander, Major General Gerow, was promoted to command V Corps and Major General Charles Hunter Gerhardt assumed command of the division, remaining in this post for the rest of the war.

        Operation Overlord Edit

        D-Day of Operation Neptune, the cross-channel invasion of Normandy, finally came on 6 June 1944. Neptune was the assault phase of the larger Operation Overlord, codename for the Allied campaign to liberate France from the Germans. The 29th Infantry Division sent the 116th Infantry to support the western flank of the veteran 1st Infantry Division's 16th Infantry at Omaha Beach. [14] : 92 Omaha was known to be the most difficult of the five landing beaches, due to its rough terrain and bluffs overlooking the beach, which had been well fortified by its German defenders of the 352nd Infantry Division. [14] : 86 [15] The 116th Infantry was assigned four sectors of the beach Easy Green, Dog Red, Dog White, and Dog Green. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division boarded a large number of attack transports for the D-Day invasion, among them landing craft, landing ship, tank, and landing ship, infantry ships and other vessels such as the SS Empire Javelin, USS Charles Carroll, and USS Buncombe County. [14] : 86

        As the ships were traveling to the beach, the heavy seas, combined with the chaos of the fighting caused most of the landing force to be thrown off-course and most of the 116th Infantry missed its landing spots. [14] : 95 Most of the regiment's tank support, launched from too far off-shore, foundered and sank in the channel. The soldiers of the 116th Infantry were the first to hit the beach at 0630, coming under heavy fire from German fortifications. Company A, from the Virginia National Guard in Bedford was annihilated by overwhelming fire as it landed on the 116th's westernmost section of the beach, along with half of Company C of the 2nd Ranger Battalion which was landing to the west of the 116th. [14] : 98 The catastrophic losses suffered by this small Virginia community led to it being selected for the site of the National D-Day Memorial. The 1st Infantry Division's forces ran into similar fortifications on the eastern half of the beach, suffering massive casualties coming ashore. By 0830, the landings were called off for lack of space on the beach, as the Americans on Omaha Beach were unable to overcome German fortifications guarding the beach exits. Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, commanding the American First Army, considered evacuating the survivors and landing the rest of the divisions elsewhere. [13] : 29 [14] : 100 However, by noon, elements of the American forces had been able to organize and advance off the beach, and the landings resumed. [14] : 103 By nightfall, the division headquarters landed on the beach with about 60 percent of the division's total strength, and began organizing the push inland. On 7 June, a second wave of 20,000 reinforcements from both the 1st and 29th Divisions was sent ashore. By the end of D-Day, 2,400 men from the two divisions had become casualties on Omaha Beach. [14] : 106–7 Added to casualties at other beaches and air-drops made the total casualties for the Normandy landings 6,500 Americans and 3,000 British and Canadians, lighter numbers than expected. [15]

        The entire division had landed in Normandy by 7 June. [12] : 122 By 9 June, Omaha Beach was secure and the division occupied Isigny. [8] On 14 July, the division was reassigned to XIX Corps, part of the First Army, itself part of the 12th Army Group. [12]

        Breakout Edit

        The division cut across the Elle River and advanced slowly toward Saint-Lô, fighting bitterly in the Normandy hedgerow country. [16] : 17 German reserves formed a new defensive front outside the town, and American forces fought a fierce battle with them two miles outside of the town. [13] : 31 German forces used the dense bocage foliage to their advantage, mounting fierce resistance in house-to-house fighting in the ravaged Saint-Lô. By the end of the fight, the Germans were relying on artillery support to hold the town following the depletion of the infantry contingent. [16] : 72–73 The 29th Division, which was already undermanned after heavy casualties on D-Day, was even further depleted in the intense fighting for Saint-Lô. Eventually, the 29th was able to capture the city in a direct assault, supported by airstrikes from P-47 Thunderbolts. [16] : 74–75

        After taking Saint-Lô, on 18 July, the division joined in the battle for Vire, capturing that strongly held city by 7 August. It continued to face stiff German resistance as it advanced to key positions southeast of Saint-Lô [16] : 105 It was then reassigned to V Corps, and then again to VIII Corps. [12] Turning west, the 29th took part in the assault on Brest which lasted from 25 August until 18 September. [8] After a short rest, the division returned to XIX Corps and moved to defensive positions along the Teveren-Geilenkirchen line in Germany and maintained those positions through October. [8] On 16 November, the division began its drive to the Roer River, blasting its way through Siersdorf, Setterich, Durboslar, and Bettendorf, and reaching the Roer by the end of the month. [8] Heavy fighting reduced Jülich Sportplatz and the Hasenfeld Gut on 8 December. [8]

        From 8 December 1944 to 23 February 1945, the division was assigned to XIII Corps and held defensive positions along the Rur and prepared for the next major offensive, Operation Grenade. The division was reassigned to XIX Corps, [12] and the attack jumped off across the Rur on 23 February, and carried the division through Jülich, Broich, Immerath, and Titz, to Mönchengladbach by 1 March 1945. [8] The division was out of combat in March. In early April the division was reassigned to XVI Corps, where the 116th Infantry helped mop up in the Ruhr Pocket. [12] On 19 April 1945 the division, assigned to XIII Corps, pushed to the Elbe River and held defensive positions until 4 May. [8] Meanwhile, the 175th Infantry cleared the Klotze Forest. After V-E Day, the division was on military duty in the Bremen enclave. [8] It was assigned to XVI Corps again for this assignment. [12]

        Losses, decorations, demobilization Edit

        Casualties Edit

        • Total battle casualties: 20,620 [17]
        • Killed in action: 3,887 [17]
        • Wounded in action: 15,541 [17]
        • Missing in action: 347 [17]
        • Prisoner of war: 845 [17]

        From July 1943, the 29th Infantry Division was commanded by Major General Charles H. Gerhardt. The division had such a high casualty rate that it was said that Gerhardt actually commanded three divisions: one on the field of battle, one in the hospital and one in the cemetery. The 29th Infantry Division lost 3,887 killed in action, 15,541 wounded in action, 347 missing in action, 845 prisoners of war, in addition to 8,665 non-combat casualties, during 242 days of combat. This amounted to over 200 percent of the division's normal strength. The division, in turn, took 38,912 German prisoners of war.

        Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division were awarded five Medals of Honor, 44 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, 854 Silver Star Medals, 17 Legion of Merit Medals, 24 Soldier's Medals, 6,308 Bronze Star Medals, and 176 Air Medals during the conflict. The division itself was awarded four distinguished unit citations and four campaign streamers for the conflict. [12] : 123

        The division remained on occupation duty until the end of 1945. Camp Grohn near Bremen was the division headquarters until January 1946. The 29th Infantry Division returned to the United States in January 1946 and was demobilized and inactivated on 17 January 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. [6] : 321

        Reactivation Edit

        On 23 October 1946, the division was reactivated in Norfolk, Virginia. [6] : 320 However, its subordinate elements were not fully manned and activated for several years. It resumed its National Guard status, seeing weekend and summer training assignments but no major contingencies over the next few years. [10]

        In 1959, the division was reorganized under the Pentomic five battle group division organization. Ewing's 29th Infantry Division: A Short History of a Fighting Division says that several Maryland infantry and engineer companies were reorganized to form 1st Med Tank Bn, 115th Armor the 29th Aviation Company was established and the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 183rd Armor, was established in Virginia as the division's reconnaissance squadron. [18] In 1963, the division was reorganized in accordance with the Reorganization Objective Army Divisions plan, eliminating its regimental commands in favor of brigades. The division took command of 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division and 2nd Brigade, 29th Infantry Division of the Virginia Army National Guard, [6] : 322 as well as 3rd Brigade, 29th Infantry Division of the Maryland Army National Guard. [6] : 323 The division continued its service in the National Guard under this new organization. [10]

        In 1968, in the middle of the Vietnam War, the Army inactivated several National Guard and Reserve divisions as part of a realignment of resources. The 29th Infantry Division was one of the divisions inactivated. During that time, the division's subordinate units were reassigned to other National Guard divisions. 1st Brigade was inactivated, while 2nd Brigade was redesignated as the 116th Infantry Brigade, and the 3rd Brigade was redesignated as 3rd Brigade, 28th Infantry Division. [11] : 193–94

        On 6 June 1984, 40 years after the landings on Omaha Beach, the Army announced that it would reactivate the 29th Infantry Division, organized as a light infantry division, as part of a reorganization of the National Guard. [10] On 30 September 1985, the division was reactivated at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with units from the Virginia Army National Guard (VAARNG) and Maryland Army National Guard (MDARNG). [6] : 320 The 116th Infantry Brigade was redesignated the 1st Brigade, 29th Division, while the 58th Infantry Brigade became the 3rd Brigade. [11] : 194 That year, the division also received its distinctive unit insignia. [7]

        Organization 1989 Edit

        At the end of the Cold War the division was a joint Virginia Army National Guard (VAARNG) and Maryland Army National Guard (MDARNG) unit. Virginia provided the division's headquarters, the 1st and 2nd Brigade, the Division Artillery (with one MDARNG artillery battalion) and other minor units, while Maryland provided the 3rd Brigade, Aviation Brigade, 29th Infantry Division (with two VAARNG aviation companies), the Division Support Command (with one VAARNG aviation company) and other minor units. [19] The division was organized as follows:

        • 29th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Belvoir (VAARNG) [19][20][21]
          • Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Fort Belvoir (VAARNG)
          • 1st Brigade, Staunton (VAARNG) [19][22][21]
            • Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Staunton
            • 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry, Roanoke[21]
            • 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry, Lynchburg[21]
            • 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry, Winchester[21]
            • Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Fort A.P. Hill
            • 1st Battalion, 170th Infantry, Alexandria[21]
            • 1st Battalion, 183rd Infantry, Richmond[21]
            • Headquarters & Headquarters Company
            • 1st Battalion, 115th Infantry, Silver Spring[20][21]
            • 2nd Battalion, 115th Infantry, Chestertown[20][21]
            • 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry, Baltimore[20][23][21]
            • 2nd Battalion, 175th Infantry, Dundalk[23][21]
            • Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Weide Army Airfield
            • 1st Squadron, 158th Cavalry, Annapolis (OH-58A Kiowa & AH-1E Cobra helicopters) [19][20][21]
            • 1st Battalion, 224th Aviation (Attack), Weide Army Airfield (OH-58A Kiowa & AH-1E Cobra helicopters) [19][20][21]
            • Company D, 224th Aviation (Assault), Sandston Army Airfield (VAARNG) (UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters) [20]
            • Company E, 224th Aviation (General Support), Sandston Army Airfield (VAARNG) (UH-1H Iroquois helicopters) [20]
            • Headquarters & Headquarters Battery, Sandston
            • 2nd Battalion, 110th Field Artillery, Pikesville (MDARNG) (18 × M101 105mm towed howitzers) [20][27][25][26][24][28][21]
            • 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery, Norfolk (attached 18 × M198 155mm towed howitzers unit) [29][30][25][26][24][28]
            • 2nd Battalion, 111th Field Artillery, Richmond (18 × M101 105mm towed howitzers) [30][25][26][24][28][21]
            • 1st Battalion, 246th Field Artillery, Danville (18 × M101 105mm towed howitzers) [25][26][24][28][21]
            • Battery E, 111th Field Artillery, Emporia (8 × M198 155mm towed howitzers) [30][25][26][24][28]
            • Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Towson
            • 104th Medical Battalion, Catonsville[20][21]
            • 229th Supply & Transportation Battalion, Baltimore [20][21]
            • 729th Maintenance Battalion, Havre de Grace[20][21]
            • Company F, 224th Aviation (Aviation Intermediate Maintenance), Weide Army Airfield (VAARNG) [20]

            Post Cold War Edit

            At the end of the Cold War, the Army saw further drawdowns and reductions in spending. The 29th Infantry Division was retained, however 2nd Brigade was inactivated in favor of assets from the inactivating 26th Infantry Division, which was redesignated the 26th Brigade, 29th Infantry Division. [11] : 194

            The largest National Guard training exercise ever held in Virginia took place in July 1998, bringing units from the 29th Infantry Division together for one large infantry exercise. The Division Maneuver Exercise, dubbed Operation Chindit, brought together Guard units from Virginia and Maryland, as well as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and the District of Columbia. The exercise began with the insertion of troops from the 29th Infantry Division's 1st and 3rd Brigades by UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters into strategic landing zones. NATO-member forces trained with the 29th Infantry Division throughout the exercise. [10] In December 2008, the division also dispatched a task force to Camp Asaka near Tokyo, Japan for exercises with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force called Yama Sakura 55, an bilateral exercise simulating an invasion of Japan. [34] [35]

            Present day Edit

            In March 1994, during a time of post-Cold War reductions in the size of the Regular Army, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment was tasked to test a new concept. The Regiment's task was to organize, train, certify, and deploy a multi-component battalion-sized task force made up of National Guard, Army Reserve and Regular Army Soldiers to serve as the US Army's rotational Infantry Battalion for the Multi-National Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The Soldiers selected for the unit reported to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in July 1994 to begin their training for the mission.

            The task force was designated as the 4th Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and carried the lineage of Company D, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which had served throughout World War II and into the 1950s. Also known as Task Force 4-505 or "The Sinai Battalion," it was formally activated on 4 November 1994. The battalion was made up of 88% National Guardsmen and Army Reservists from 32 different states, and 12% Regular Army Soldiers, most from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Virginia and Maryland Army National Guardsmen from the 29th Infantry Division (Light) provided the largest contingent for the battalion. All of the National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers volunteered for a year of active duty in order to serve in the unit. After completing six months of peacekeeping training at Fort Bragg, the 4th Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment deployed to the Sinai from January through June 1995, then redeployed to Fort Bragg. On 15 July 1995, the 4th Battalion was inactivated at Fort Bragg, and its Soldiers returned to their parent units.

            Hundreds of soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division completed nine days of training on 16 June 2001 at Fort Polk, Louisiana, to prepare for their peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, as the second division headquarters to be deployed as a part of SFOR 10. In all, 2,085 National Guard soldiers from 16 states from Massachusetts to California served with the multinational force that operated in the US sector, MND-N. Their rotation began in October 2001 and lasted six months. [10]

            The 29th Infantry Division completed a two-week warfighter exercise at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in late July 2003. Nearly 1,200 soldiers of the division participated in the training, which was overseen by First United States Army. Also engaged in the simulation war were about 150 soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division. The exercises covered a variety of operations, ranging from large scale contingencies to airborne and civil affairs operations. [10]

            In March 2004, the 3rd Battalion 116th Infantry of 500+ soldiers was mobilized for 579 days in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan. Following 4-month train up, the battalion deployed to Bagram Air Base Afghanistan where the unit split into two operational elements. One element was stationed at Bagram where they were responsible for near base security and the theater-north Quick Reaction Force. They executed 5, 10, and 20 kilometer ring patrols to increase force security and stayed ready to react at a moments notice to deploy anywhere in Afghanistan to react to "troops in contact" that requested support. The other element moved south with the Bn Commander to control and shape operations in the Wardak and Ghazni provinces. It was here that the 116th would take its first casualties by enemy contact since World War II. SGT Bobby Beasley and SSG Craig Cherry were killed in an IED attack on a patrol in southern Ghazni near Gilan. Within the first three months, the unit would deploy nearly every soldier around Bagram, and throughout the Wardak and Ghazni provinces during the first Afghan elections in which President Hamid Karzai was elected. The unit would redeploy back to the United States in July 2005 highly decorated for its efforts during their mission following hundreds of successful combat patrols and engagements.

            In 2005, 350 veterans, politicians, and soldiers representing the division went to Normandy and Paris, in France for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The Army National Guard organized a major ceremony for the 60th anniversary, as many of the veterans who participated in the invasion were in their 80s at that time, and the 60th anniversary was seen as the last major anniversary of the landings in which a large number of veterans could take part. [36]

            The division underwent major reorganization in 2006. A special troops battalion was added to the division's command structure, and its three brigades were redesignated. It as organized around three brigades the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of North Carolina, the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of Virginia, and the Combat Aviation Brigade, 29th Infantry Division of Maryland. [37]

            In December 2006, the division took command of the Eastern region of Kosovo's peacekeeping force, to provide security in the region. The division's soldiers were part of a NATO multi-national task force consisting of units from the Ukraine, Greece, Poland, Romania, Armenia and Lithuania under the command of U.S. Army Brigadier General Douglas B. Earhart who concurrently served as the 29th's Deputy Commanding General. The division returned to Fort Belvoir in November 2007.

            After a three-month pre-deployment train-up at Mississippi's Camp Shelby, the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in September 2007, as part of the Iraq War's Operation Iraqi Freedom, returning home in May 2008.

            Approximately 72 Virginia and Maryland National Guard soldiers with the 29th ID deployed to Afghanistan from December 2010 to October 2011. As part of the 29th ID Security Partnering Team, the Soldiers were assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Security Partnering Team with the mission of assisting with the growth and development of the Afghan National Security Forces where they served as advisers and mentors to senior Afghan leaders. They were part of a NATO Coalition of 49 troop-contributing nations that Security Partnering personnel interacted with daily across Afghanistan. [38] [39] [40]

            They were replaced in November 2011 by a new team from the 29th Infantry Division. A team of 65 29th ID soldiers served in Afghanistan as a Security Partnering Team until July 2012. [41] [42] [43]

            The 29th ID suffered one casualty during this deployment. Maj. Robert Marchanti of the Maryland Army National Guard, was killed on 25 February 2012. [44] [45]

            In 2014 the 29th ID twice sent soldiers to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany to assist in the training of U.S. and multinational soldiers preparing to head to Kosovo as part of the Kosovo Force [46] mission. The 29th ID soldiers performed as the KFOR staff, serving as subject matter experts, enforcing KFOR orders, systems and procedures, and working with JMRC to help the deploying troops achieve their training objectives. [47] [48]

            The 29th ID currently serves as the Domestic All-Hazards Response Team (DART) in FEMA Regions 1 through 5 (states east of the Mississippi). In this role the 29th ID is prepared to assist state National Guard in their service to governors and citizens during an incident response. [49] The DART provides defense support of civil authority capabilities in response to a catastrophic event. The DART conducts joint reception, staging, onward-movement and Integration of inbound OPCON forces and establishes base support installations and /or forward operating bases for sustaining operations. [50]

            On 24 July 2015, Brig. Gen. Blake C. Ortner took command of the 29th Infantry Division from Maj. Gen. Charles W. Whittington. [51]

            On 19 December 2016 the 29th Infantry Division assumed command of U.S. Army Central's intermediate division headquarters, Task Force Spartan, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. This deployment includes 450 Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers and is the first time the 29th Infantry Division has been a part of Third Army since 1944, during WWII. [52]

            More than 80 members of the 29th deployed to Jordan in August 2016 where they assumed command of the military's joint operations center there to support Operation Inherent Resolve. [2] Soldiers of the 29th led engagements and joint training with the Jordan Armed Forces and allied countries before returning in July 2017. [3]

            On 5 May 2018, Brig. Gen. John M. Epperly took command of the 29th Infantry Division from Maj. Gen. Blake C. Ortner. [53] On 3 October 2020, Epperly was succeeded by Maj. Gen. John M. Rhodes. [54]

            The 29th Infantry Division exercises training and readiness oversight of the following units, [55] which are not organic: there is a division headquarters battalion, an armored brigade combat team, two infantry brigade combat teams, a combat aviation brigade, a field artillery brigade, a maneuver enhancement brigade, and a division sustainment brigade.

              29th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion [10]
              • Headquarters and Support Company, Fort Belvoir, Virginia (VA NG)
              • Company A (Operations), Fort Belvoir, Virginia (VA NG)
              • Company B (Intelligence and Sustainment), Annapolis, Maryland (MD NG)
              • Company C (Signal), Cheltenham, Maryland (MD NG) 29th Infantry Division Band (VA NG)
              • Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 1st Squadron, 150th Cavalry Regiment (WV NG) 1st Battalion, 252nd Armor Regiment (NC NG) 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment (SC NG) 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment (NC NG) 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment (FAR) (NC NG)
              • 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB) 230th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) (NC NG)
              • HHC 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion, 167th Infantry Regiment (AL NG)
              • 2nd Battalion, 116th FAR
              • 753rd BEB
              • 53rd BSB
              • HHC 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment (KY NG) 1st Battalion, 111th FAR229th BEB429th BSB
                1st Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment (AZ NG) 2d Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment (VA NG) 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment (USAR) 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment (FL NG)
            • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB) (Fayetteville, Arkansas) 1st Battalion, 142nd FAR (Harrison, Arkansas) 2nd Battalion, 142nd FAR (Fort Smith, Arkansas)
        • 217th BSB (Booneville, Arkansas) Battery F, 142nd FAR (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
        • 142d Signal Company (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
        • Unit decorations Edit

          Ribbon Award Year Notes
          French Croix de guerre, World War II (with Palm) 1944 Embroidered "BEACHES OF NORMANDY"
          Meritorious Unit Commendation 2017 Embroidered "SOUTHWEST ASIA 2016–2017"

          Campaign streamers Edit

          Conflict Streamer Campaign Year(s)
          World War I Alsace 1918
          World War I Meuse-Argonne 1918
          World War II Normandy (With Arrowhead) 1944
          World War II Northern France 1944
          World War II Rhineland 1945
          World War II Central Europe 1945
          Global War on Terror Inherent Resolve 2016–17

          The 29th Infantry Division has been featured numerous times in popular media, particularly for its role on D-Day. The division's actions on Omaha Beach are featured prominently in the 1962 film The Longest Day, [61] as well as in the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan. [62] [63] Soldiers of the division are featured in other films and television with smaller roles, such as in the 2009 film Inglourious Basterds and the 2005 film War of the Worlds. [ citation needed ]

          The 29th Infantry Division is also featured in numerous video games related to World War II. The division's advance through Normandy and Europe is featured in the games Close Combat, Company of Heroes and Call of Duty 3, in which the player assumes the role of a soldier of the division. [64]

          A number of soldiers serving with the 29th Infantry Division have gone on to achieve notability for various reasons. Among them are highly decorated soldier Joseph A. Farinholt, soccer player James Ford, United States federal judge Alfred D. Barksdale, [65] and historian Lawrence C. Wroth, [66] generals Milton Reckord, [67] Norman Cota, [68] Charles D. W. Canham, and Donald Wilson. [69] Major Thomas D. Howie who commanded 3d Battalion, 116th Infantry during the battle of St. Lo became immortalized as "The Major of St. Lo" for the honors rendered to him after being killed in action. [70]

          Russian nobility’s most daring swashbuckler

          Count Fyodor Tolstoy was unique in many ways: the only tattooed nobleman the only nobleman married to a gypsy an unparalleled cardsharper and duelist. What made him even more famous were his outlandish stories - Tolstoy loved to talk and dream up tall tales about himself. In fact, even though he boasted the famous moniker of &ldquoAmerican,&rdquo Tolstoy lied about visiting the North American continent.

          Ejected from Japan delegation

          Fedor Tolstoy in his youth. Unknown author. Collection of Leo Tolstoi State Literary Museum.

          Fyodor was born to a poor branch of the prominent Tolstoy family, and he had to enroll in the Naval Cadet Corps to make a future career. There, the sturdy and cunning young Count learned fencing and shooting, which later made him a dangerous opponent in duels. In 1797, he started his service in the imperial Preobrazhensky regiment.

          &ldquoHe had neither love nor skill for obedience,&rdquo Tolstoy&rsquos daughter later wrote. During his years in the service he was among the most unabashed ruffians, twice sent to garrison regiments as punishment. &ldquoEverything others did, he did 10 times stronger. Recklessness was in trend those days, and Count Tolstoy was reckless to the point of frenzy,&rdquo recalled his friend Faddey Bulgarin.

          Recklessness inspired Tolstoy to join the crew of the First Russian Circumnavigation commanded by Ivan Kruzenshtern. Also with them was Nikolay Rezanov, an imperial envoy whose mission was to establish diplomatic relations between Japan and Russia. During the trip, however, Kruzenshtern and Rezanov got in a row. Tolstoy was a &ldquochevalier of the embassy,&rdquo subordinate to Rezanov, but as a Naval Cadet Corps alumni he teamed up with Kruzenshtern, ridiculing the bitter-tempered Rezanov. That cost Tolstoy dearly, and when the expedition reached Kamchatka before arriving in Japan, the 22-year-old Count was left on shore &ldquofor disorderly conduct.&rdquo That day was August 26, 1804.

          The tattooed Count

          Fyodor Tolstoy in his later years. Under the cuff on his left hand, a part of Tolstoy's tattoo can be seen. Fillip Reichel, 1846.

          To return to St. Petersburg, Tolstoy had to first go to Okhotsk, where he arrived in January 1805. Later, Tolstoy told his friends that between August 1804 and January 1805 he visited the Aleutian Islands and Russian Alaska (this is why he was nicknamed &ldquoAmerican&rdquo). Mikhail Filin, Tolstoy&rsquos biographer, recently proved that his American trip was a lie - Tolstoy couldn&rsquot possibly have had the time to cross the ocean and return in just four months.

          Tolstoy had an incredible alibi &ndash his entire body was tattooed. He said that while in Alaska he visited the Tlingit tribe that offered him to be their king, and decorated his body. In reality, the tattoos were made during a 10-day stop in the Marquesas Islands. Count Tolstoy was the only Russian nobleman who was ever tattooed (sailors usually were, but not noblemen). Tolstoy&rsquos niece later recalled that when getting together with friends, Fyodor showed his tattoos: &ldquoa big motley bird&rdquo on his chest, snakes and wild patterns on his arms. &ldquoLadies gasped unstoppably. Later, men took Fyodor upstairs&hellip and there they undressed him completely and inspected his tattooed body from head to toe.&rdquo

          What was so special about tattoos for a nobleman? In Russia, such things were for convicts, often &ldquobranded&rdquo like livestock as penance. Tattoos were inappropriate for an aristocrat. Thus, by tattooing himself Tolstoy defied yet another social construct of his time.

          Tolstoy knew how to encourage and grow his legend, and somewhere in the Far East he bought Aleutian clothes and wore them at home, not to mention decorating his room with indigenous weapons. But &ldquoAmerican&rdquo and &ldquoAleutian&rdquo were not Tolstoy&rsquos only nationalities. He was also called a &ldquogypsy.&rdquo

          Gypsy nobleman

          Fyodor Tolstoy during his time in Royal Guard

          While gypsy singers, dancers and musicians were often luxury entertainment for nobility, Tolstoy surprised everyone by actually marrying a gypsy, Avdotya Tugaeva.

          The romance began as a fling, but Avdotya soon showed her caring side. Tolstoy owed a great deal of money because of card playing and couldn&rsquot pay his debts, which led him to consider taking his life. Seeing the Count&rsquos desperation, Avdotya used the money she had acquired as gifts from noblemen and paid off his debt. Struck by her kindness, Tolstoy married Avdotya.

          Their life was far from happy, however, and they quarreled constantly. At times they lived apart, and lost eight children to various diseases. Nevertheless, Tolstoy was a devoted family man, and during tough times he stopped gambling and refrained from drinking. He always had money to feed and educate his children. Tolstoy was also very taciturn when it came to his family and kept his private life a secret, especially because high society often made fun of him for marrying a gypsy. Tolstoy&rsquos love for Avdotya, however, was stronger than any gossip or prejudice.

          Napoleonic war hero

          When in 1805 Tolstoy returned to St. Petersburg, he was severely punished for his exploits during the Circumnavigation and sent to serve in a garrison regiment in Nyslott (now Savonlinna, Finland). Emperor Alexander was furious at Tolstoy for scolding his envoy to Japan. In 1808, Tolstoy was pardoned, and he fought in the Russian-Swedish War of 1808-1809, showing extraordinary bravery. Later, during the War of 1812, Tolstoy was a hero of the Battle of Borodino when he took charge of the Ladozhsky regiment after its commander had been killed. The Count was wounded in the knee, but after recovery he fought on, chasing Napoleon&rsquos army to Europe and returning home victorious in 1814.

          King of gambling and duels

          Fyodor Tolstoy. Drawing by Alexander Pushkin

          Tolstoy loved gambling, but everybody knew that he cardsharped. &ldquoOnly fools rely on luck,&rdquo he said. Card cheating wasn&rsquot considered a sin for a nobleman. In 1819, Tolstoy played cards with Alexander Pushkin, and the poet noticed that the Count cheated and confronted him. Tolstoy replied, "Yes, I know that, but I don&rsquot like to be reminded of it."

          Both men were mutually insulted. Pushkin even prepared for a duel with Tolstoy, but luckily they only exchanged a number of bitter poetic epigrams. Eventually, Tolstoy, who was 17 years Pushkin&rsquos senior, became friends with the poet and served as his matchmaker with Natalia Goncharova. The Count was a friend of Natalia&rsquos family.

          Tolstoy was famous as a duelist and reportedly killed over 10 people. Writer Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor&rsquos cousin once removed, relates that one day a close friend of Tolstoy was challenged to a duel. Afraid for his friend&rsquos life, because he wasn&rsquot very good at shooting, Tolstoy met his opponent, insulted him and accepted a challenge. Early the next day, Tolstoy went to the duel and killed his opponent, then rushing to the friend to wake him, saying: &ldquoSleep on, my friend, I already killed him.&rdquo

          Tolstoy himself ended his life quietly in his Moscow home in 1846, at the age of 64. Life&rsquos dangers, that he liked to play with so much, have bypassed this legendary ruffian.

          To find out more about the connections between Tolstoys and America, check out our article &ldquoWhy was Leo Tolstoy fond of America?&rdquo while in the article about Russian writers and their wives you can learn about the complications in the family of Leo and Sophia Tolstoy. And for something different, look at the hidden meanings behind Russian writers&rsquo surnames.

          If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.

          The Carignan-Salières Regiment

          Soldier of the régiment de Carignan-Salières", drawing by Francis Back, Canadian Military History Gateway.

          When King Louis XIV ascended to the French throne in 1661, the colony of New France in the Saint Lawrence Valley was facing incredible challenges. Its roughly 3,000 inhabitants faced constant threats to their economy and safety from the indigenous Iroquois, due to their chronic underpopulation. Louis XIV wanted to protect France’s economic interests in the fur trade and to defend the struggling outpost, ensuring not only its survival but also its growth. At this period in time, “Iroquois” referred to the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy: the Mohawks (Agniers in French), Onedas (Onneiouts in French), Onondagas, Senecas and Cayugas. From the French colonists’ perspective however, only the Mohawks were deemed enemies as the other Nations had not participated in any recent attacks. [Today, the Mohawk nation is called Kanien'kehá:ka, meaning “People of the Flint”.]

          In order to increase the colony’s population, some 700 women nicknamed the Filles du roi (the “King’s Daughters”) were sent to New France starting in 1663. Then, during the summer and fall of 1665, about 1,200-1,300 soldiers and 80 officers from the Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived at Québec City tasked with protecting the inhabitants and eliminating the Iroquois threat to the south. The regiment included 20 companies that sailed from France and an additional 4 companies that sailed from the West Indies accompanied by 62-year old Lieutenant-General Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy. The enlisted men were all volunteers who were recruited by captains into a specific company, rather than into the regiment itself. The captains were responsible for ensuring the soldiers were paid, clothed and fed. Economic hardship in France at the time meant that there was no shortage of volunteers looking for better opportunities.

          Drummer of the régiment de Carignan-Salières, 1665-1668", drawing by Michel Pétrard, Canadian Military History Gateway.

          List of ships arriving at Québec

          Le Vieux Siméon arrived on 19 Jun 1665 carrying the Chambly, Froment, La Tour and Petit companies

          Le Brézé arrived on 30 Jun 1665 carrying the La Durantaye, Berthier, La Brisardière and Monteil companies

          L'Aigle d'Or arrived on 18 Aug 1665 carrying the Grandfontaine, La Fredière, La Motte and Salières companies

          La Paix arrived on 19 Aug 1665 carrying the La Colonelle, Contrecœur, Maximy and Sorel companies

          Le Jardin de Hollande arrived on 12 Sep 1665 carrying supplies for the regiment

          Le Saint-Sébastien arrived on 12 Sep 1665 carrying the Rougemont, Boisbriand, Des Portes and Varenne companies

          La Justice arrived on 14 Sep 1665 carrying the La Fouille, Laubia, Saint-Ours and Naurois companies

          Military Forts

          1666 map of the forts constructed by the Carignan-Salières Regiment on the Richelieu River ("Plans des forts faicts par le regiment Carignan Salieres sur la riviere de Richelieu dicte autrement des Iroquois en la Nouvelle France"), map by François Le Mercier, BAnQ numérique.

          The first task of the Carignan-Salières Regiment was to build forts at strategic locations along the Richelieu River, which was used by the Mohawks to attack the French colonists. Forts Saint-Louis, Sainte-Thérèse and Richelieu were rapidly constructed. Today, both Fort St-Louis (renamed Fort-Chambly) and Fort St-Jean are classified as National Historic Sites of Canada, though none of the original fortifications remain.

          The soldiers also constructed the very first road in Canada, the chemin de Chambly, linking the settlements of Longueuil and Chambly. This road (what we would call a trail or footpath today) allowed soldiers to avoid a long detour via canoe from Montréal to Sorel on the St. Lawrence River, then from Sorel to Chambly on the Richelieu River.

          Uniforms and Weapons

          Soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment had a mix of French and indigenous clothing and accessories. Their weaponry consisted of a sword for hand-to-hand combat, a flintlock musket to shoot over long distances, a pistol for short distances, a bayonet, an ax (for both combat and construction) and a horn or pouch to carry gunpowder. The soldier’s main uniform was brown with gray lining and black ribbons decorating a trimmed felt hat and the right shoulder. He wore black and brown leather boots and carried a clay pipe for tobacco. In colder weather, soldiers wore mukluks and moccasins, and fur hats, coats and leggings.

          Officer and soldiers of the régiment de Carignan-Salières, 1665-1668", drawing by Francis Back. “This reconstruction shows an officer and men of the régiment de Carignan-Salières. The common soldiers at left and right carry muskets. Hanging from their shoulder belts are the powder flasks known as 'the Twelve Apostles'. The officer at centre carries a half-pike and wears the white sash of a French officer around his waist.” (Canadian Military History Gateway).

          Failed Peace Talks, followed by a Disastrous First Expedition

          At the end of 1665, general Tracy attempted to negotiate a peace treaty with the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. Foreseeing a battle with the French that could not be won, four of the Nations agreed to the peace. The Mohawks, however, didn’t come to the meeting at all and Tracy would not sign a treaty without the agreement of all Iroquois Nations. He gave up on the negotiations and authorized governor Daniel de Rémy de Courcelle to launch an attack on the Mohawks.

          Iroquois warrior (“Guerrier Iroquois”), circa 1795 print by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Library and Archives Canada).

          In early 1666, Courcelle and his men attempted to attack Mohawk villages to the south of Québec, along with “friendly Indians” and Canadian volunteers happy for a chance at revenge. This expedition was a complete failure, with snowstorms preventing the soldiers from even finding the villages. Of course, most of these newly arrived men had never experienced the hardships of Canadian winter and were now having to contend with snow that was a metre-deep, likely without snowshoes. Courcelle lost dozens of ill-prepared men to the cold and inhospitable climate, and to skirmishes with the Mohawks at Schenectady. Learning from this disaster, the regiment reverted to a previous and sound tradition of not launching military campaigns in the middle of winter.

          By late spring, peace talks were back on the table. The Seneca Nation were the first to sign a treaty of mutual friendship with France at Québec City. The Oneidas followed suit in July. By September however, it was clear that the Mohawks were not going to participate yet again, and another attack was planned.

          This second expedition took place in the fall of 1666. General Tracy led about 1,300 soldiers and volunteers himself. However, the Mohawks realized they were greatly outnumbered and fled without a fight. The regiment burned down seven Mohawk villages along with their cornfields and food supply. Tracy proclaimed that the territory now belonged to the King of France.

          Carignan-Salières Regiment ("Régiment de Carignan-Salières - 1665"), 1932 painting by A. d’Auriac, BAnQ numérique).

          A Fragile Peace

          A few months later, peace talks resumed at Québec, this time with the Mohawks present. On 10 July 1667, peace was declared between the French and Five Nations of the Iroquois—one that would last for 18 years.

          Once the fragile peace was established, the Carignan-Salières soldiers had the choice to return to France or remain in the new colony at the end of their service. Authorities offered the soldiers incentives to stay, such as land grants along the St. Lawrence River or marriages to the Filles du roi.

          Of the 1,200-1,300 soldiers that arrived in New France, roughly 350 men died, about 350 returned to France in 1668 and at least 446 decided to stay, with an additional 100 soldiers remaining in the army of the colony. The main reason for settling was likely economic in nature—the chance to have a small plot of land to farm close to a home, something that would be practically impossible for soldiers belonging to the lower class in France. The men knew they could also earn extra income in the winter by doubling as a coureur des bois.

          The Carignan-Salières Regiment sent six companies back to New France in 1670 as reinforcements: five were sent to Québec and one to Acadia. Disbanded a year later, these soldiers were encouraged to remain. In 1676, the regiment was renamed the “Régiment de Soissons”, marking the official end of the Carignan-Salières Regiment.

          The Story Behind the Two Flag-Raisings at the Battle of Iwo Jima

          Joe Rosenthal missed the moment when United States Marines first raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Associated Press photographer was still climbing up the mountain at the time.

          But when Marines raised another flag, he was there to capture the image for the ages. And he would spend the rest of the war arguing over whether he'd staged the second raising.

          Fighting on Iwo Jima lasted 36 days, but it took the Marines only five days to reach the top of the eight-square-mile island's highest point, Mount Suribachi. Almost from the get-go, the fighting was brutal. Japan had a year to reinforce the island with tunnels carved into the mountainside, hidden artillery positions and a network of reinforced bunkers.

          Allied bombing and naval barrages could do nothing to soften up the island's defenses for the attacking Marines. When they landed, they were facing the full force of its Japanese defenders, who were willing to fight to the death for every inch of volcanic rock.

          So when the Marines topped Suribachi and planted the first flag, it was a huge boon to the Marines fighting below and the sailors offshore. The ships blew their horns when they saw the flag. Gunfire and cheers erupted from the sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen fighting below.

          Gunfire also erupted from the Japanese soldiers, who saw the flag as just a new target atop the island's highest peak. After the flag was raised, a hail of bullets came in around the Marines on Mount Suribachi.

          Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Lowery of Leatherneck Magazine was there to capture the first raising, but had to dive for cover when the enemy started shooting. His camera was broken in the fall, and he had to go back down the mountain to get new gear. On his way to the rear, he passed Rosenthal and his Graflex 4x5 camera. The AP representative was about to get something few war photographers ever did: a second chance at capturing the moment.

          By the time Rosenthal reached the top, the first flag was still there. Like any good photographer, he waited around to see what came next. He didn't have to wait long.

          After seeing how the American troops responded to the first flag being raised, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson ordered a new, larger flag to be raised over the battlefield. This 96x56-inch flag would be one that could be seen across the island.

          Rosenthal was present for this flag-raising. But he almost missed the second moment too.

          Marine Sgt. William Genaust was filming the moment and asked Rosenthal whether he was in his way. The AP photographer turned to look at Genaust and realized the Marines were raising the flag.

          He had to snap the now-iconic photo without looking into the viewfinder. His next shot was a group photo of 16 Marines and two Navy corpsmen around the raised flag.

          "Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up," he later told Colliers Magazine. "I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don't come away saying you got a great shot. You don't know."

          Rosenthal sent the photo to be processed on Guam, where it was quickly sent out to The Associated Press in New York. Within 17 hours of the flag-raising, the photo was on the newswires -- and on the desk of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

          It would win a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 1945 and became a symbol of the enduring spirit of United States Marines.


          You can see this painting in the ‘War without End’ area of our First World War Galleries.

          By the end of the First World War, 185 men from the BWIR had been killed in action and 1,071 had died of sickness. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tends the graves of BWIR men in cemeteries in Britain, the West Indies, Belgium, Egypt, France, Italy, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Tanzania. Many of the West Indian men who returned from fighting in the 'Great War' came home with a sense of grievance. They had answered Britain’s call. They had fought in a war that was not of their own making yet played their part in the eventual defeat of Germany and its allies. But they had still faced discrimination for their colour.

          The signing of the Treaty of Versailles was meant to create not just a peaceful world but a fairer one as well. Yet this vision would not include self-determination for many of the subject peoples of Britain’s non-white colonies. In supporting the war effort many West Indians had hoped for change, but it would take several decades, and another world war, for the islands to gain independence from Britain.

          We would like to thank Arthur Torrington CBE, Projects Director of the Windrush Foundation, for his assistance in producing this article.

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