181st Infantry Regiment (United States)

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181st Infantry Regiment (6th Massachusetts)
Coat of arms
CountryKingdom of England England (1636-1707)
Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain (1707-1776)
 United States (1776-Present)
BranchMassachusetts Army National Guard
Motto(s)"Keep Your Powder Dry”
Anniversaries19 April (Anniversary of Lexington (1775) and Pratt Street Riot (1861))
EngagementsFrench and Indian Wars
American Revolution
War of 1812
American Civil War
Spanish–American War
Mexican Expedition
World War I
World War II
Guantanamo Bay detention camp
Iraq War
Afghanistan War (2001–present)
Battle honoursCited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in the ARDENNES (1944)
French Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star (1918)
French Croix de Guerre with Palm (1945)
French Fourragère (1945)
LTC Luis A. Rodriguez (1st/181st)
Edgar C. Erickson
Distinctive Unit Insignia181st Infantry Regiment DUI.png
U.S. Infantry Regiments
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179th Infantry Regiment 182nd Infantry Regiment

The 181st Infantry Regiment shares the distinction of being one of oldest combat regiment in the United States ArmySecond to the 182nd Infantry Regiment. The regiment traces its history to 13 December 1636, when it was one of four colonial regiments of foot of the British Crown in Massachusetts. It later served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, with Union forces in the American Civil War, and as a federalized Massachusetts National Guard regiment with the U.S. Army during War with Spain, Mexican Border Campaign, World War I and World War II. Most recently the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry has served in Iraq, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and in Afghanistan. The only active element of the regiment is the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, which returned from a year of service in Afghanistan in July 2011. The 1st Battalion was mobilized in March 2017 for one year of service with the Multinational Force & Observers in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.


Formation and colonial operations[edit]

The 181st Infantry Regiment was organized 13 December 1636 in the Massachusetts Militia from existing train bands as the North Regiment. Redesignated 7 September 1643 as the Middlesex Regiment. Expanded 13 October 1680 to form the 1st (or Lower) Middlesex Regiment and the 2nd (or Upper) Middlesex Regiment (consisting of companies from Concord, Bedford, Sudbury, Marlborough, Chelmsford, Billerica, Groton, Acton, Lancaster, and Dunstable) (1st Middlesex Regiment – hereafter separate lineage (see 182nd Infantry Regiment (United States)).[2]

Massachusetts Army and the American Revolution[edit]

The soldiers of the 2nd Middlesex Regiment fought at the Battle of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775. The regiment was reorganized and entered the Massachusetts Army as elements of Prescott's Regiment, Thomas' Regiment, Bridges' Regiment, Nixon's Regiment and Johnathan Brewer's Regiment of the Massachusetts Line.

The unit were redesignated on 1 January 1776 as the 6th Continental Regiment, the 13th Massachusetts Regiment, and the 23rd Continental Regiment of the Continental Line, Fought in the following campaigns: Battle of Lexington and Concord, Siege of Boston(Bunker Hill), Battle of Long Island, Battle of Trenton, Battle of Princeton, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Monmouth, and in New Jersey 1776, New York 1776, and Rhode Island 1778.[2]

(The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (Hampshire Regiment) for Battle of Quebec 1775 and Rhode Island 1780.)[3]

War of 1812[edit]

The 181st Infantry is one of only nineteen Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812. The Massachusetts militia was one of the largest, best equipped and best trained of any of the state militias, but support for the war in New England was lukewarm at best. As a consequence, no Massachusetts units were federalized until 1814, although as state units they were active in guarding the state's coastline. Only after Great Britain burned Washington and generally increased its naval pressure on the East Coast did Massachusetts allow its militias to be mustered into federal service.

Civil War[edit]

With the start of the Civil War the 6th Massachusetts (Militia) was ordered into active service for the defense of Washington in April 1861. As it marched to the relief of the capitol, it was attacked by a pro-southern mob in Baltimore (Pratt Street Riot). The regiment fought its way through, leaving four of its own dead on the streets of the city. On their arrival in Washington, they were greeted by President Lincoln, who shook Colonel Jones's hand and said, "Thank God, you have come." They slept that night in the Capitol building. The 6th Massachusetts was the first armed and trained regiment to arrive in Washington.

It was mustered into federal service on 22 April 1861 at Washington, D.C., for three months service, and served in the defenses of Washington before being mustered out on 2 August 1861 at Boston.

On 26 August 1861, veterans of the 6th Mass. formed the 26th Mass. Infantry in Cambridge. This regiment served four years and was mustered out of service on 26 August 1865 in Savannah, GA. Fought in the following campaigns: Mississippi River Campaign, Battle of Petersburg, Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

In 1862, the 6th Mass. (Militia) recruited back up to strength and were again mustered into federal service between 31 August - 8 September 1862. The regiment was stationed at Fort Monroe, Virginia and served at Deserted House, VA on 30 Jan. 1863 and the siege of Suffolk, VA in May 1863. Private Joseph S.G. Sweatt of Company C was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Carsville, VA on 15 May 1863. The citation reads: "When ordered to retreat this soldier turned and rushed back to the front, in the face of heavy fire of the enemy, in an endeavor to rescue his wounded comrades, remaining by them until overpowered and taken prisoner." Mustered out on 3 June 1863 at Lowell. In July 1863 Company F was ordered to state service to suppress the Boston Draft Riots. Campaigns: Virginia 1862, Virginia 1863.

The 6th Mass. (Militia) was again mustered into federal service, in July 1864 for 100 days service and did guard duty at Arlington Heights and at Fort Delaware before being mustered out on 27 October 1864 at Readville, Massachusetts and resumed state status.

(The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (10th Massachusetts) for the Peninsula Campaign, Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredricksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of Spotsylvania and Battle of Cold Harbor.)

National Guard and overseas service[edit]

During the War with Spain, the unit mustered into federal service on 6 May 1896 at Framingham, Massachusetts. The 6th Massachusetts Regiment (Spanish–American War) served with the Expeditionary Force in Puerto Rico. Mustered out on 21 January 1899. (The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (2nd Massachusetts) for Santiago Campaign Battle of El Caney.)

The Land forces of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia were redesignated as the Massachusetts National Guard on 15 November 1907.

The 6th Mass. was mustered into federal service on 25 June 1916 at Framingham for Mexican Border Campaign and stationed at El Paso, TX, and mustered out between 10–15 November 1916.

More than 140,000 National Guard troops were called up to serve in the campaign,[4] but only two regiments, the 1st New Mexico Infantry and the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, were assigned to the Punitive Expeditionary Force, and those were to guard the base at Columbus. Historian Clarence C. Clendenen asserts that although no Guard units officially crossed into Mexico at any time, soldiers from the two National Guard regiments at Columbus did enter Mexico to perform various tasks.[5]

World War I[edit]

The regiment was mustered again into federal service on 30 March 1917 for World War I. Soldiers from the 6th Massachusetts were transferred to form the regiments of the 26th "Yankee" Division. The majority of the soldiers helped form the 104th Infantry Regiment. After the deployment of the Yankee Division the remaining soldiers of the 6th Mass. (15 officers and 279 enlisted men) trained at Camp Wadsworth and formed the 4th Pioneer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Holton B. Perkins and filled to wartime strength with draftees. The pioneer regiments included such specialists as mechanics, carpenters, farriers and masons. They were supposed to work under the direction of the engineers to build roads, bridges, gun emplacements and camps "within the sound of the guns." They received standard infantry training so that they could defend themselves, but there are very few documented instances of any pioneer troops unslinging their rifles.[6] Once in France, the regiment was selected to be re-trained to form the 382nd Infantry Regiment. Before that transition could be executed the Fall Offensives of 1918 pushed the 4th Pioneer Infantry into service as engineer support and labor troops. The regiment was demobilized in February 1919 at Camp A.P. Hill, VA. Served in the following campaigns: Battle of Saint Mihiel, Meuse Argonne Offensive, and Battle of Lorraine 1918.[7]

The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (2nd Massachusetts) for Isle de France, Lorraine 1918, and Champagne-Marne.[8]

The unit reorganized on 31 August 1921 as the 3rd Infantry Massachusetts National Guard. It was redesignated as the 181st Infantry and assigned to the 26th Division on 30 November 1921 with headquarters at Worcester, Massachusetts.

World War II[edit]

The unit was inducted into federal service on 16 January 1941. The 181st Infantry conducted training at Camp Edwards and took part in the Carolina Maneuvers from 28 September to 6 December 1941.

With the United States entry into World War II, the 181st was relieved from the 26th Division and assigned to the Eastern Defense Command (EDC) on 27 January 1942. (The 181st Infantry was replaced as part of the 26th Division by the 328th Infantry Regiment).[9] The 211th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm howitzers) was attached to form a regimental combat team. The 181st Infantry was assigned to the EDC conducting coastal patrols from Higgins Beach, Maine to Watch Hill, RI to prevent the landing of German agents from U-Boats. The 181st Infantry moved to Fort Dix, NJ on 5 December 1943 and was deactivated on 8 February 1944; the soldiers were sent to Italy as infantry replacements in the 3rd, 34th and 36th Infantry Divisions).[10][11]

The 328th Infantry regiment fought across Europe with the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division. Technical Sergeant Alfred L. Wilson was posthumously presented with the Medal of Honor for lifesaving care conducted under fire.[12]

The regiment is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry Regiment (United States) (2nd Massachusetts) and the 328th Infantry Regiment for Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), Central Europe and in the Army of Occupation in Austria.[13]

In 1947 the 181st Infantry was re-formed with headquarters at Worcester. (The war record of the 328th Infantry was assigned to the 181st Infantry.)

Recent service and the Global War on Terror[edit]

In September 2003 the 1-181st Infantry Regiment deployed to Cuba in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo. The unit was stationed at Camp America located on the United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The battalion's mission was to conduct security and presence patrols in and around Camp Delta, the maximum security prison housing high value detainees from the Global War on Terror.

September, 2005, 1-181st Infantry mobilized as the lead element of Joint Task Force Yankee for rescue and security operations in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

On 1 December 2005, the 1st Battalion, 104th Infantry was deactivated and the remaining units were reconstituted and integrated into the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment.

In 2007, elements of the 1-181 Infantry were mobilized for one year duty at the various locations in Iraq. Companies served as a rear area operations center, as well as providing security for facilities and personal protection for designated individuals.

The 1-181st Infantry mobilized on 31 July 2010 for a year service at various sites throughout Afghanistan, providing security to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and bases throughout Kabul, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan. Campaign credit for Afghanistan Consolidation III (2010–11) and Transition I (2011)The 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry was awarded the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation for distinctly meritorious performance in counterinsurgency, support and combat operations in Afghanistan from October 2010 to July 2011.

Mobilized in March 2017 for one year of service as the U.S. Battalion (USBATT) in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The MFO is an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Unit decorations[edit]

Ribbon Award Year Notes
French Croix de Guerre, World War I (With Gilt Star) French Croix de Guerre, World War I (With Gilt Star) 104th IN cited; WD GO 11, 1924 Embroidered "LORRAINE"
French Croix de Guerre, World War II (With Palm) French Croix de Guerre, World War II (With Palm) 104th IN cited; DA GO 43, 1950 Embroidered "LORRAINE"
French Fourragere of the Croix de Guerre, World War II French Fourragère in the colors of the Croix de Guerre, World War II 104th IN cited; DA GO 43, 1950
Presidential Unit Citation, World War II 1944 Embroidered "LUXEMBOURG"
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation, Afghanistan 1-181st IN cited; DA Perm Orders 326-26, 2012 Embroidered "AFGHANISTAN"


See also[edit]


  • Albertine, Connell. The Yankee Doughboy. Boston: Brandon, 1968. Print. (Retired general's reminiscences of his experiences as a young officer with the 104th Infantry Regiment in France during World War I.)
  • American Battle Monuments Commission. 26th Division Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington D.C.: American Battle Monuments Commission, 1944. Print. (Pamphlet with large, fold-out, annotated maps that detail the combat operations of the YD in World War I.)
  • Benwell, Harry A. History of the Yankee Division. Boston: Cornhill, 1919. Print. (A comprehensive narrative history of the YD in World War I published immediately after the war.)
  • Brady, Edward. Georgie! My Georgie!: The First Greek-American to Win the Medal of Honor. Xlibris Books, 2005. Print. (A novelized form of the story of George Dilboy, Medal of Honor recipient from World War I.)[self-published source]
  • Cole, Hugh M. The Lorraine Campaign. Vol. The European Theater of Operations. Washington: Center of Military History, 1950. Print. United States Army in World War II. (one volume from the official U.S. Army History of World War II. Outlines the combat operations in the Lorraine in World War II. This was the initial sustained action by the YD in the war.)
  • Cole, Hugh M. The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge. Vol. The European Theater of Operations. Washington: Center of Military History, 1965. Print. United States Army in World War II. (one volume from the official U.S. Army History of World War II. Outlines the combat operations in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. In this action the YD played a pivotal role in the defeat of the German offensive.)
  • Connole, Dennis A. The 26th Yankee Division on Coast Patrol Duty 1942–1943. (This book is a chronicle of the training and the stateside patrol duties of the YD prior to deployment to Europe from January 1941 to 1944. It covers the story of the pre-Pearl Harbor training and maneuvers and it focuses on the 181st Infantry Regiment.)
  • Courtney Richard, Normandy to the Bulge: An American Infantry GI in Europe during World War II, Chicago: Southern Illinois Press, 2000. (A memoir which offers a view of the war in Europe from the point of view of a PFC.)
  • Egger, Bruce E., and Lee M. Otts. G Company's War: Two Personal Accounts of the Campaigns in Europe, 1944-1945. University of Alabama, 1998. Print. (Two soldiers give their personal accounts of service with the YD in World War II. These two were Mass. Guardsmen that were assigned to serve with the 328th Infantry.)
  • Fifield, James H. A History of the 104th U.S. Infantry AEF, 1917–1919. 1946. Print. (Springfield newspaper man wrote this comprehensive history of the 104th Infantry Regiment from the organization in Westfield from the existing Mass. National Guard, through World War I and re-deployment.)
  • George, Albert E., and Edwin H. Cooper. Pictoral History of the Twenty-Sixth Division United States Army. Boston: Ball, 1920. Print. (A volume of Signal Corps photographs and a narrative history of the YD in World War I. Includes unit pictures down to the company level and a fold-out panoramic of the entire YD on review at Camp Devens in 1919.)
  • Gissen, Max, ed. History of a Combat Regiment, 1639–1945. Salzburg, Austria, 1945. Print. (This is a theater-produced history of the 104th Infantry Regiment in World War II. It was created in Austria during occupation duty in 1945 and copies were distributed to all members of the regiment.)
  • Hardin, James N. New York to Oberplan. Nashville: McQuiddey Press, 1946. Print. (A staff officer's view of World War II in Europe with the YD.)
  • Historical & Pictoral Review National Guard of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1939. Baton Rouge: Army and Navy, 1939. Print. (This large yearbook, was a depression era project of the WPA. It includes a comprehensive historical sketch of the Mass. National Guard, and pictures and individual company histories for each unit.)
  • McKinney, Carolyn. The Gentle Giant of the 26th Division. Terra Alta, WV: Headline Books, 1994. Print. (The story of Technical Sergeant 5 Alfred Wilson, a Medal of Honor recipient from the 328th IN of the YD in World War II. It is written by Wilson's niece, based on his letters from the war.)
  • Palladino, Ralph A., ed. History of a Combat Regiment 1639-1945. Baton Rouge: Army and Navy, 1960. Print. (This was a re-editing of the theater produced pamphlet of the same name. It was produced for distribution to 104th Infantry Veterans. It uses the same narrative and maps as the 1945 product, but augments them with collected personal photos and U.S. Signal Corps photos to create a yearbook-style history.)
  • Passega, General. Le Calvaire De Verdun. Paris: Charled Levauzelle, 1927. Print. (This book is a history of the battles around Verdun in World War I written by the French Corps Commander that commanded the YD during the early campaigns of World War I. It includes descriptions of the actions of the YD in the Toul Sector and the actions of the 104th Infantry at Apremont.)
  • Sibley, Frank P. With the Yankee Division in France. Norwood, MA: Little Brown and, 1919. Print. (A Boston newspaper man who served as an "embedded reporter" with the YD from the founding throughout World War I.)
  • Stanton, Shelby L. (1991). World War II Order of Battle. Galahad Books. ISBN 0-88365-775-9.
  • Taylor, Emerson G. New England in France, 1917–1919. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. Print. (A narrative history and another of the trio of volumes on the YD in the war published by newspaper men immediately following the war.)
  • Westbrook, Stillman F. Those Eighteen Months. Hartford: Case Lockwood and Brainard, 1934. Print. (This is a personal printing of war letters by the commander of the 104th Machine Gun Company in World War I.)


  1. ^ History of the 181st Infantry Regiment (Sixth Massachusetts). Milford, MA: Historical Services Office, Office of the Adjutant General. 2003.
  2. ^ a b Stofft, William A. (1987). Department of the Army Lineage and Honors Certificate.
  3. ^ Lineage and Honors Certificate 104th Infantry Regiment. US Army Institute of Heraldry. 1998.
  4. ^ Harris, Charles C. (2015). The Great Call-Up: The Guard, the Border, and the Mexican Revolution. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 5. ISBN 9780806149547.
  5. ^ Clendenon, Clarence C. (1969). Blood on the Border: The United States Army and the Mexican Irregulars. London: Macmillan. p. 296.
  6. ^ "Pvt. Louis Raab, 2nd Pioneer Infantry, III Corps". Berkeley, CA, USA: The Great War Society. 5 July 2002. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  7. ^ Sibley, Frank (1919). With the Yankee Division in France. Norwood: Little Brown.
  8. ^ Fifield, James (1946). A History of the 104th U.S. Infantry AEF 1917–1919. Springfield.
  9. ^ Egger, Bruce (1998). G Company's War: Two Personal Accounts of the Campaigns in Europe, 1944–1945. University of Alabama.
  10. ^ Connole, Dennis. The 26th Yankee Division on Coast Patrol Duty 1942-1943.
  11. ^ Stanton, p. 232
  12. ^ McKinney, Carolyn (1994). The Gentle Giant of the 26th Division. Terra Alta, WV: Headline Books.
  13. ^ Palladino, Ralph (1960). History of a Combat Regiment 1639–1945. Baton Rouge: Army and Navy Press.