New Mexico in WW1 Home
When the U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917 approximately 345,000 people lived in New Mexico. A month later, Congress passed the Selective Service Act which required all men in the U.S. between ages 21 and 30 to register for military service. At the time the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, there were two million American soldiers in Europe and three million more training at home. Of the almost 4.8 million Americans who eventually served in the war, some 2.8 million were drafted. 17,251 New Mexicans either enlisted in the various military services or were drafted. Of the 523 New Mexicans who died in the war, 93 are buried in cemeteries maintained by the American Battle Commission, six in France and one in England.
New Mexico's 1st Infantry Regiment was released from federal service less then three weeks before being called up again and assigned to the 40th Infantry Division in France. Consequently, soldiers were in a high state of readiness from their service on the Mexican border. They were reorganized into the 143rd and 144th Machine Gun Battalions as well as the 115th Military Police BN. Once the 40th arrived in Las Guerche, France it was re-designated as the 6th Depot Division, responsible for training replacements for other divisions, guarding prisoners of war and providing ambulance services. Roswell's Battery A, 1st New Mexico Field Artillery would make a name for itself in France. Renamed Battery A, 146th Field Artillery Brigade of the 41st Infantry Division, the battery fought at Chateau-Theirry, St. Mihiel and the Argonne Forest. Battery A was commended personally by Gen. John Pershing, commander of the AEF. The unit's four guns fired more than 14,000 rounds in combat, surpassing all other U.S. heavy artillery units. Following the war, their commander, Lt. Col. Charles DeBremond died of poisonous gas wounds and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Battery A was also the unit of Albert Sidney Maudlin, the father of William Henry "Bill" Maudlin, an American editorial cartoonist who won two Pulitzer Prizes and as most famous for his WWII cartoons depicting American soldiers represented by characters Willie and Joe.
Campaigns New Mexicans saw action included:
- Defensive Sector
- St. Mihiel
- Army of Occupation
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive between Sept. 25 and Nov. 11, 1918 became America's deadliest combat ever: 26,277 U.S. Troops were killed out of a fighting force of 1.2 million American soldiers. They sacrificed their lives in the battles that forced Germany to pursue peace, thus ending the war. More than half of the AEF troops killed in Meuse-Argonne, 14,246 (32 from New Mexico) are interred at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.
The second largest number of New Mexicans killed in France died at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry in July 1918, some from Roswell's Battery A of the New Mexico National Guard. This massive AEF assault against German trenches represented an early battlefield presence of U.S. troops. It proved to be a stunning victory and validated General Pershing's offensive maneuvers. The 28 New Mexicans killed in this battle are interred at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery together with 2,261 AEF soldiers.