The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades/Genesis of Permanent Divisions

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The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades by John B. Wilson
Chapter II: Genesis of Permanent Divisions
"Officers who have never seen a corps, division, or brigade organized and on the march can not be expected to perform perfectly the duties required of them when war comes".
Elihu Root 1

At the opening of the twentieth century, following the hasty organization and deployment of the army corps during the War with Spain, the Army's leadership realized that it needed to create permanent combined arms units trained for war. Accordingly, senior officers worked toward that goal until the nation entered World War I. Their efforts reflected the principal mission of the Army at the time: to defend the vast continental United States and its modest insular empire in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. During this period the infantry division replaced the army corps as the basic combined arms unit. Growing in size and firepower, it acquired combat support and service elements, along with an adequate staff, reflecting visions of a more complex battlefield environment. The cavalry division, designed to achieve mobility rather than to realize its combined arms potential, underwent changes similar to those of the infantry division. Army leaders also searched for ways to maintain permanent divisions that could take the field on short notice. That effort accomplished little, however, because of traditional American antipathy toward standing armies.

Reforms Following the War With Spain[edit]

The Army began closely examining its organizations after the War with Spain. The War Department had been severely criticized for its poor leadership during the 1898 mobilization. Under the guidance of Secretary of War Elihu Root, it established a board to plan an Army war college that would "direct the instruction and intellectual exercise of the Army."2 This concept inspired creation of the General Staff in 1903, which led to major reforms in Army organization and mobilization.3

Under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, the Chief of Staff, the new organization had a profound influence on the structure of the field army. In 1905 the War Department published Field Service Regulations, United States Army, in which Capt. Joseph T. Dickman, a General Staff member and future Third Army commander, drew together contemporary thought on tactics and logistics. Designed for the first level of officer training within the Army's educational system, the regulations covered such subjects as orders, combat, services of information and security (intelligence), subsistence, transportation, and organization. Under the guidance of Chaffee and other staff officers Dickman's organizational section directed the formation of provisional brigades and divisions during field exercises so that smaller permanent units could train for war.4

With these new ordinances, the Army departed from national and international practice, and the infantry division replaced the army corps, which had been used in the Civil War and the War with Spain, as the basic unit for combining arms. Since the mid-nineteenth century a typical European army corps had consisted of two or more divisions, a cavalry brigade, a field artillery regiment, and supporting units-about 30,000 men. Divisions usually included only infantry. Although they sometimes had artillery, cavalry, or engineer troops, they rarely included service units.5

In march formation (infantry in fours, cavalry in twos, guns and caissons in single file), a European army corps covered approximately fifteen miles of road, a day's march. To participate in a battle involving the vanguard, the corps' rear elements might have a day's march before engaging the enemy. Any greater distance meant that all corps elements could not work as a unit. In the continental United States an army corps actually required about thirty-five miles of road space because of the broken terrain and poor roads. Within a moving army corps, however, a division occupied only eleven miles.6

By replacing the army corps with the division, Dickman's regulation sought an organizational framework appropriate to the mission and the expected terrain. In 1905 the staff did not identify specific adversaries, but the planners believed that if war broke out a divisional organization was more appropriate for use in North America. Their assumption was that the nation would not be involved in a war overseas.7

For training, the regulations outlined a division that included three infantry brigades (two or more infantry regiments each), a cavalry regiment, an engineer battalion to facilitate movement, a signal company for communications, and four field hospitals. Nine field artillery batteries, organized as a provisional regiment, served both the division and other commands such as corps artillery. To attain a self-sufficient division, the planners added an ammunition column, a supply column, and a pack train, all to be manned by civilians. The regulations did not fix the strength of the organization, but in march formation it was estimated to use fourteen miles of road space. That distance represented a day's march, paralleling the length of a contemporary European army corps.8

In the field, divisions were both tactical and administrative units. Matters relating to courts martial, supply, money, property accountability, and administration, all normally vested in a territorial commander during peace, passed to the division commander during war. To carry out these duties, the division was to have a chief of staff, an adjutant general, an inspector general, a provost marshal, a judge advocate, a surgeon, and a quartermaster, along with commissary, engineer, signal, ordnance, and muster officers. The senior artillery officer served ex officio as the chief of the division artillery.9

The cavalry division, also described in the regulations, consisted of three cavalry brigades (two or three cavalry regiments each), six horse artillery batteries, mounted engineer and signal companies, and two field hospitals. Civilians were to man ammunition and supply columns. Because mounted troops were likely to be employed in small detachments, the cavalry division had no prescribed staff. 10

Above the division level, the regulations only sketched corps and armies. Two or three infantry divisions made up an army corps, and several army corps, along with one or more cavalry divisions, formed an army. Specific details regarding higher command and control were omitted.11

When the Field Service Regulations were published, General Chaffee harnessed them to training and readiness. First, he directed the garrison schools to use them as textbooks, taking precedence over any others then in use. Second, he applied the regulations to both the Regular Army and the Organized Militia when in the field. 12

Militia, or National Guard, units had dual missions. Each served its state of origin but, when called upon, also served in national emergencies. Under the Dick Act of 1903, National Guard units had five years to achieve the same organizational standards as the Regular Army units. To accomplish that goal, the federal government increased the funds for arms and equipment and annual training and provided additional Regular Army officers to assist with training. 13

Having an outline for field organizations and units available to prepare for war, the Army turned its attention to training. Combined arms training artillery, cavalry, and infantry-had been a part of the school curriculum at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, since 1881, but Secretary Root gave such training added meaning in 1899 when he noted that officers needed to see a corps, division, or brigade organized and on the march to perform their duties in war. In 1902 some state and federal units held maneuvers at Camp Root, Kansas, 14 but the first large drill took place two years later near Manassas, Virginia. At that time Guard units from eighteen states and selected Regular Army units trained together a total of 26,000 men. Maneuvers on a lesser scale were held in 1906 and 1908. These biennial maneuvers proved beneficial to both professional and citizen soldiers. Regulars gained command experience, and guardsmen refined their military skills. 15

Although periodic maneuvers had their merits, the General Staff soon realized that they fell short of preparing the Army for war. In 1906 the Regular Army was still dispersed among posts that accommodated anywhere from two companies to a regiment. To provide for more sustained training, the staff urged Secretary of War William Howard Taft to concentrate the regulars at brigade-size posts. Taft proved receptive, but most members of Congress opposed the reform, particularly if closing a post might affect their constituents adversely. 16

In 1909 Assistant Secretary of War Robert Shaw Oliver, a veteran with experience as a volunteer, Regular, and Guard officer, adopted another approach to readiness. Following the European example of mixing regulars and reserves in the same formation, he divided the nation into eight districts. Within each district, Oliver planned to form brigades, divisions, and corps for training Regular and Guard units. The district commander was to supervise all assigned regulars, but to exercise only nominal control over Guard units, which were to be federalized only during a national emergency or war. Nevertheless, Oliver expected the district commander to influence the citizen-soldier by manifesting an interest in the reserve forces. The plan was voluntary for the National Guard, but by early 1910 the governors of the New England states and New York had agreed to have their units participate. 17

About the same time this agreement was reached, the Army modified its field organizations, retaining divisions but replacing the corps and army commands with a field army. Since the mid-nineteenth century military theorists had debated the need for the corps. Col. Arthur L. Wagner, a founding father of the Army school system, believed that it was a necessary echelon between division and army, but based on experience during the Civil War Maj. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys, former Chief of Staff of the Army of the Potomac, disagreed. Humphreys wanted a strong division capable of independent operations, noting that the terrain and poor roads in the United States prevented the easy maneuver or movement of a large unit. 18

Agreeing with Humphreys, the General Staff decided that a command made up of divisions, designated as a field army, best fit the nation's needs. As described in the Field Service Regulations of 1910, the field army comprised two or more infantry divisions, plus support troops, which included pioneer infantry (service troops for the forward area of the battlefield), heavy artillery, engineers, signal and medical troops, and ammunition and supply units, which could maneuver and fight independently. Cavalry might be included in the division if appropriate.19

To fit within the new concept, the General Staff, in conjunction with the Army School of the Line at Fort Leavenworth, made the infantry division a more powerful and self-sufficient organization. A field artillery brigade of two regiments with forty-eight guns replaced the provisional regiment. Infantry and cavalry regiments benefited from additional firepower. Based on experiments with machine guns in 1906, a provisional two-gun platoon had been added to each infantry and cavalry regiment, and with the new regulations the authorization was increased to six guns. Depending on range, one machine gun equaled the firepower of between sixteen and thirty-nine riflemen. Thus, divisional firepower grew substantially. Other changes improved communications by replacing the signal company with a two-company battalion and expanded the medical service by adding four ambulance companies. For the first time, a directive fixed the strength of a division at 19,850 men-740 officers, 18,533 enlisted, and 577 civilians, the last serving mostly in the ammunition and supply units. Transport for a division included 769 wagons and carts, 48 ambulances, and 8,265 animals.20

While making the division more powerful, the regulations realigned the division staff. The new staff consisted of a chief of staff, an adjutant general, an inspector general, a judge advocate, a quartermaster, a commissary officer, a surgeon, the commander's three aides, and six civilian clerks. Engineer and signal battalion commanders joined it at the discretion of the division commander. The provost marshal was eliminated, as were the ordnance, muster, and senior artillery officers, with most of these positions moving to the field army headquarters.21

A new nomenclature for divisions indicated their self-sufficiency. Instead of being numbered as the 1st, 2d, and 3d Divisions, I Army Corps, as during the Civil War and the War with Spain, units were to be numbered consecutively in the order of their formation. No reference to any field army appeared in divisional designations. As before, brigades were identified only as the 1st, 2d, and 3d brigades of a division.22

The new ordinances also included a 13,836-man cavalry division in the field army, and, as in the infantry division, internal changes affected firepower, logistics, and staff. A field artillery regiment replaced the six batteries, and each cavalry regiment fielded a provisional machine gun troop. The engineer and signal companies were expanded to battalions, and two ambulance companies were added. A pack train completed the division. For the first time, the cavalry division was given a staff similar to that in the infantry division. Designations of cavalry divisions were also to be numerical and consecutive in the order of their organization.23

Maj. Gen. James Franklin Bell, the Chief of Staff of the Army, established the First Field Army on 28 February 1910. Although merely a paper organization before mobilization, it consisted of three infantry divisions, each with three infantry brigades. Each infantry brigade comprised three infantry regiments, and the other divisional units included a cavalry regiment, an engineer battalion, and medical and signal units. In place of the field artillery brigade, each division had only one field artillery regiment. Because the artillery and cavalry regiments were made up of both Regular Army and National Guard elements, Bell designated them as "National" regiments. The supply and ammunition trains, manned by civilians, were to be formed after mobilization.24

Within a few months the new Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, reported to Secretary of War Jacob M. Dickinson that the First Field Army existed in name only. Noting that the Army lacked the required units and equipment to field the organization, he nevertheless believed that the War Department had taken the first step in organizing the Regular Army and the National Guard for modern war.25

Not everyone in the War Department agreed with the concept of the First Field Army. The Chief of the Division of Militia Affairs, Brig. Gen. Robert K. Evans, recommended that General Wood revoke the orders establishing the organization for two reasons. First, the field army did not fit any plan for the national defense, and, second, he believed that Regular and Guard units did not belong in the same formation. He further contended that the orders implied the existence of a field army. Events along the Mexican border soon caused the Army to abandon the organization, and eventually the secretary of war rescinded the orders.26

Concentration on the Mexican Border in 1911[edit]

In March 1911, during disorders resulting from the Mexican Revolution, the War Department deployed many Regular Army units of the First Field Army to the southern border. Units assembled at San Antonio, Texas, constituted the Maneuver Division and the Independent Cavalry Brigade, while others, concentrated at Galveston, Texas, and San Diego, California, made up separate infantry brigades. The division, following the Field Service Regulations outline, consisted of three infantry brigades, a field artillery brigade, an engineer battalion, and medical and signal units, but no trains. Thirty-six companies from the Coast Artillery Corps, organized as three provisional infantry regiments, comprised the brigade at Galveston. The brigade at San Diego had two infantry regiments and

small medical, signal, and cavalry units, along with a provisional quartermaster (bakers and cooks) unit. The Galveston and San Diego brigades were intended to defend against possible attack by the Mexican Navy, while the Maneuver Division readied for offensive operations against Mexico.27

The Army experienced great difficulty with this assembly of troops. Scores of movement orders had to be issued, and inadequate arrangements for transportation caused innumerable delays. Upon arriving at their new stations, the units found themselves considerably under strength. The division initially had about 8,000 officers and enlisted men but, with the addition of recruits, its strength climbed to 12,809. That total represented only about two-thirds of the authorized strength outlined in the regulations for the division. Although the division impressed some American citizens, General Wood's comment was "How little.."28

During the concentration of troops along the border, which lasted for almost five months, the Army learned many lessons about readiness. The foremost one concerned the effects of the lack of a mobilization plan, which caused delays in notifying and transporting units. Sixteen days were required to assemble the small force. By comparison, the following year the Bulgarians needed only eighteen days to mobilize 270,000 men against the Turks. After the troops arrived at the mobilization sites, the division's inspector general found many problems. No two units had the same tentage, transportation equipment, or quartermaster supplies. The large numbers of recruits overwhelmed the units and caused general confusion. Medical units performed poorly since they had been haphazardly organized.29

To correct these faults, the inspector general recommended that standard field equipment be issued to all units, that their peacetime strength be increased, and that permanent field hospitals and ambulance companies be maintained. Logistical problems stemmed from the lack of regulatory civilians in the ammunition and supply trains. But rather than urging the organization of those units, the inspector suggested that the Army experiment with "autotrucks."30

In the communications arena, the Signal Corps tested the telegraph, wireless telegraph (radio), and the airplane during tactical exercises. Cavalry employed the wireless telegraph, while infantry used telegraph wire, and both reported great success. In addition to training officers to fly, the airplane was used for reconnaissance in the division, which spurred further aeronautical development.31

When the Maneuver Division and the brigades were mobilized, General Wood expected that they could remain on the border for three months without asking Congress for additional money. He succeeded. The brigades at Galveston and San Diego were discontinued in June 1911, and divisional elements began returning to their home stations at the end of July. On 7 August the division headquarters passed into history.32

The mobilization served many purposes, not the least of which was to give impetus to General Wood's preparedness campaign. The performance of the division and the brigades illustrated the nation's unpreparedness for war.

The Stimson Plan[edit]

After the breakup of the division and brigades, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson requested the General Staff to review national defense policies and to develop a mobilization plan for the Army. Maj. William Lassiter, Capt. John McAuley Palmer, and Capt. George Van Horn Moseley prepared the recommendations submitted to Stimson in 1912 as the Report on the Organization of Land Forces of the United States.33 Known as the Stimson Plan, it set out the need for "A regular army organized in divisions and cavalry brigades ready for immediate use as an expeditionary force or for other purposes . . . ." Behind it was to be "an army of national citizen soldiers organized in peace in complete divisions and prepared to reenforce the Regular Army in time of war." Finally, the plan called for "an army of volunteers to be organized under prearranged plans when greater forces are required than can be furnished by the Regular Army and the organized citizen soldiery." 34

Although the Stimson Plan received support throughout the Army and the nation, changing the military establishment proved difficult. Congress balked at altering the laws governing the Army. The General Staff therefore opted to improve readiness by implementing as many of the recommendations as possible on the basis of existing legislation. After conferences with general officers, the National Guard, and concerned congressional members, sixteen divisions emerged as a mobilization force. The Regular Army was to furnish one cavalry and three infantry divisions, and the National Guard twelve infantry divisions. With these goals established, the staff developed plans to reorganize the two components. 35

On 15 February 1913, Stimson announced his new arrangement for the Regular Army. To administer it, he divided the nation into Eastern, Central, Western, and Southern Departments and created northern and southern Atlantic coast artillery districts, along with a third for the Pacific coast. These departments and districts provided the framework for continued command and control regardless of the units assigned to them. Second, he arranged to mobilize field units into divisions and brigades. The 1st, 2d, and 3d Divisions were allotted to the Eastern, Central, and Western Departments, respectively, and the Cavalry Division (1st and 2d Cavalry Brigades) to the Southern Department. The 3d Cavalry Brigade, a nondivisional unit, was assigned to the Central Department. When necessary, two regiments in the Eastern Department were to combine to form the 4th Cavalry Brigade. The plan addressed primarily the defense of the continental United States, but also included the territory of Hawaii. The three infantry regiments stationed in the islands were to form the 1st Hawaiian Brigade. 36

These arrangements fell short of perfection. Divisional components remained scattered until mobilization, thereby precluding continuous training. For example, the 1st Division's elements occupied fourteen posts. All divisions lacked units prescribed in the Field Service Regulations. Stimson, however, hoped that Congress would eventually authorize completion of the units.37

To organize the National Guard divisions, Stimson had to gain the cooperation of state governors who controlled the Guard units until federalized. Captain Moseley devised a system to divide the nation into twelve geographic districts, each with an infantry division. Thirty-two states accepted the scheme, two states remained noncommittal, and fifteen refused comment. Although the staff failed to gain unanimous support of its proposal, in 1914 it adopted the twelve-division force for the Guard (Table 1), to which was added three multidistrict cavalry divisions. 38

Implementation of the plan moved slowly in the states. Governors hesitated to form certain units needed in the divisions, particularly expensive field artillery and medical organizations that did not support the Guard's state missions. The staff likewise moved slowly in developing procedures to instruct, supply, and mobilize the units. One bright area, the District of New York, which had maintained a division of its own design since 1908, quickly completed its part of the plan, perhaps because the state had been a pillar of support for the preparedness movement. Pennsylvania, the other state constituting a divisional district, which had supported a nonregulation division since 1879, gradually began to adjust its organization. Progress in the multistate districts, not unexpectedly, fell behind Pennsylvania.39

As it developed plans for the tactical reorganization of the Army, the General Staff pioneered the creation of tables of organization for all types of units. Forerunners of those used today, the tables brought together for easy comparison a mass of information about unit personnel and equipment previously buried in various War Department publications, greatly easing the task of determining requirements for mobilizations. Although the new tables did not alter the basic combat triad structure of the infantry division, their formulation was accompanied by internal changes in the infantry regiments and the divisional support echelon. Revisions eliminated the pack train, authorized a small engineer train, and manned the engineer, supply, and ammunition trains with military personnel instead of civilians.40


TABLE 1 National Guard Infantry Divisions, 1914[edit]

Table One copy.PNG


In 1912 Congress created a service corps within the Quartermaster Corps to replace civilian employees and soldiers detailed from combat units for duty as wagonmasters, teamsters, blacksmiths, and other such laborers and artificers. Only nineteen civilians-veterinarians and clerks-remained in the division. For the first time, sources for military police and train guards were specified. Traditionally, commanders gave regiments or battalions that had suffered severely in battle the honor of serving as provost guards, especially those that had conducted themselves with distinction.41

In the infantry regiment, besides the provisional machine gun company provided for in 1910, provisional headquarters and supply companies were to provide mounted orderlies and regimental wagon drivers. The arrangement eliminated the need to detail men from rifle companies, a practice that had plagued unit commanders since the Revolutionary War. These and other changes raised the division's strength to 22,646 officers and enlisted men and 19 civilians.42

The place of possible employment continued to influence the division's basic structure. Before the tables of organization were prepared, the staff debated whether a division should have two or three infantry brigades, noting that European armies continued to use a two-division corps organization. Maj. Nathaniel E McClure, appointed as an instructor in military art at the Army Service Schools, Fort Leavenworth, in 1913, attributed the European organization to economy in the use of personnel and to the proper use of sophisticated road networks. He concluded, however, that what the Europeans really wanted was a corps built upon multiples of three-regiments, brigades, and divisions. When preparing the Stimson Plan, the officers determined that a division with two infantry brigades limited the commander's ability to subdivide his forces for frontal and flank attacks while at the same time attempting to maintain a reserve. Along with ease of command, deployment on a road influenced the decision. Because a division containing two infantry brigades would make less economical use of road space than one of three brigades, the three-brigade division remained the Army's basis for combining arms. In march formation, it measured about fifteen miles.43

The revision of the cavalry division in many ways paralleled that of the infantry division. Military personnel manned ammunition and supply trains, and troopers from the cavalry regiments served as military police and train guards. Each cavalry regiment was authorized provisional headquarters and machine gun troops similar to those in the infantry regiment. The most significant change was in the division's three cavalry brigades, with each being reduced from three to two regiments since three cavalry regiments in a brigade required too much road space. The division's strength stood at 10,161, approximately 4,000 fewer men than the 1910 unit.44

To complement the 1914 tables of organization, Maj. James A. Logan revised the 1910 Field Service Regulations. The new edition emphasized the division as the basic organization for conducting offensive operations in a mobile army. Logan defined the division as "A self-contained unit made up of all necessary arms and services, and complete in itself with every requirement for independent action incident to its operations."45 His definition became the customary description of a division.

Operations on the Mexican Border, 1913-1917[edit]

The Mexican border remained a troubled area. Following the mobilization of 1911, the Army patrolled the frontier with small units, but when insurrectionists overthrew the Mexican government in 1913, President Taft decided on a show of force similar to the earlier concentration of troops. On 21 February he ordered Maj. Gen. William H. Carter, commander of the Central Department, to assemble the most fully manned of the Army's divisions, the 2d, on the Gulf coast of Texas. Unlike its mobilization of the Maneuver Division in 1911, the War Department used a mere five-line telegram to deploy the unit. Carter, who arrived with his staff in Texas within three days, established the division headquarters and its 4th and 6th Brigades at Texas City and the 5th Brigade at Galveston. The division lacked, however, some field artillery, medical, signal, and engineer elements and all its trains.46

Tension remained high between the United States and Mexico in 1914, and in response President Woodrow Wilson adjusted the deployment of military units to protect American interests. United States naval forces occupied Vera Cruz, Mexico, and soldiers soon relieved the sailors ashore. On 30 April the 5th Brigade, 2d Division, augmented with cavalry, field artillery, engineer, signal, bakery, and aviation units, and almost the entire divisional staff took up positions in the city. To placate uneasy United States citizens along the border, the 2d and 8th Brigades, elements of the 1st and 3d Divisions, and some smaller units moved to the southern frontier. In November the crisis at Vera Cruz ended and the 5th Brigade returned to Galveston, but activity resumed the following month when the 6th Brigade, 2d Division, deployed to Naco, Arizona. For the next few months no major changes took place in the disposition of forces. Then, in August 1915, a hurricane hit Texas City and Galveston, killing thirteen enlisted men and causing considerable damage to the 2d Division's property. Officials in Washington decided that the division was no longer needed there and ordered its units moved to other posts in the Southern Department. The divisional headquarters was demobilized on 18 October 1915.47

Before the Vera Cruz expedition, General Carter had evaluated the 2d Division. Although he found no glaring deficiencies in the unit, he recommended the maintenance of permanent headquarters detachments for divisions and brigades in peacetime to ease mobilization and to prevent the breakup of regimental organizations for division details. Carter also recommended that all communications equipment be centralized in the signal unit because the training of men assigned to combat arms units to operate signal gear seemed wasteful.48

On 9 March 1916, trouble flared again on the southern border when Mexican bandits raided Columbus, New Mexico, killing and wounding several soldiers and civilians. The following day the Southern Department commander, Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston, ordered Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the 8th Brigade, to apprehend the perpetrators. For his mission Pershing organized a provisional division and designated it as the Punitive Expedition, United States Army.49

This division differed considerably from the organizations outlined in the Field Service Regulations. It consisted of two provisional cavalry brigades (two cavalry regiments and a field artillery battery each) and one infantry brigade (two regiments and two engineer companies), with medical, signal, transportation, and air units as divisional troops. The design of the division followed the organizational axiom that it adapt to the terrain and roads where the enemy was located. In hostile and barren northern Mexico, Pershing planned to pursue the bandits with cavalry and to protect his communication lines with infantry.50 Violence intensified along the border during the spring of 1916, causing a general mobilization. After a raid in May at Glen Springs, Texas, President Wilson called the National Guard of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas into federal service. Following another raid on 16 June, he federalized all Guard units assigned to tactical divisions designated in the Stimson Plan.51

This final call exposed flaws in the nation's war plans. In some states mobilization locations were inaccessible, quartermaster supplies were insufficient, and even required forms were in short supply. Guard units were under strength and poorly trained. Some men failed to honor their enlistments, while others who were physically unfit entered the service. Besides these and other deficiencies, the need to have troops on the border meant that only two divisions, the 6th from New York and the 7th from Pennsylvania, mobilized in accordance with the Stimson Plan. On 4 August the War Department directed General Funston to organize ten divisions and six brigades provisionally from the remaining Guard units. But not all of these organizations could be formed because of the rapid shifting of units to and from the border. Although the mobilization pointed out many weaknesses in the nation's preparation for war, it provided an invaluable training opportunity for the Guard.52

The Punitive Expedition stayed in Mexico until February 1917. When hostile acts had abated along the border during the fall of 1916, the War Department had begun to demobilize the Guard. By the end of March most units had returned to state control. Pershing, the new Southern Department commander following Funston's sudden death from a heart attack in February 1917, realigned the Regular Army forces. He organized provisionally a cavalry brigade and three infantry divisions, but they existed for less than three months. With the nation's entry into World War I and the need for troops in Europe, Pershing's divisions were disbanded. Smaller units, however, continued border surveillance.53

Authorization of Permanent Divisions[edit]

While the Army concentrated most of its regulars in the United States on the Mexican border in 1915, the ongoing war in Europe prompted Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison to reexamine national defense policies. Among other matters, he asked the General Staff to investigate the organizations and strength figures needed by the Regular Army and National Guard, the reserve forces required, and the relationship of the regulars and guardsmen to a volunteer force. Garrison held the opinion that the federal government's lack of control over the National Guard was a fundamental defect.54

Members of the General Staff worked for six months to answer Garrison, and the War Department published their findings as the Statement of Proper Military Policy in 1915. It outlined a 281,000-man Regular Army and a 500,000-man federal reserve. An additional 500,000 reserve force was to buttress the reserves. Under the new policy the National Guard was downgraded to a volunteer contingent force that would be used only during war.55

Proposed legislation based on the policy statement, which was dubbed the "Continental Army" plan, quickly ran into congressional opponents who were unwilling to abandon the National Guard. But the debate led eventually to the National Defense Act of 1916. The new act provided that the "Army of the United States" would consist of the Regular Army, the Volunteer Army, the Officers' Reserve Corps, the Enlisted Reserve Corps, the National Guard in the service of the United States, and such other land forces as were or might be authorized by Congress. The president was to determine both the number and type of National Guard units that each state would maintain. Both the Regular Army and the National Guard were to be organized, insofar as practicable, into permanent brigades and divisions. Command echelons above divisions reverted to army corps and armies, the traditional command system; no mention was made of independent field armies directly controlling divisions. Undoubtedly the war in Europe, which involved large armies, caused the staff to revert to that system. To resolve the long-standing question of whether Guard units could be used outside the United States, the law empowered the president to draft units into federal service under certain conditions. Men in drafted units would be discharged from state service and become federal troops subject to employment wherever needed. Congress continued to dictate regimental organizations. 56

The War Department published new tables of organization for infantry and cavalry divisions in May 1917. The structure of the infantry division remained similar to that mandated in 1914. Internal changes dealt with firepower, another consequence of observing the pattern of the European war. Infantry regiments gained additional riflemen, and the provisional headquarters, supply, and machine gun companies were made permanent. The field artillery brigade also gained considerable firepower, with one regiment of 3.8-inch howitzers and two regiments of 3-inch guns replacing the two regiments authorized in 1914. A two-battalion engineer regiment replaced the battalion, the signal battalion grew in size, and an aero squadron equipped with twelve aircraft joined the division for reconnaissance and observation. Enlarged ammunition, supply, engineer, and sanitary trains supported the arms, and the tables provided for the trains to be either motorized or horse-drawn. The tables also called for a headquarters troop for the division and headquarters detachments for infantry and artillery brigades. These units were to furnish mess, transport, and administrative support for the division to operate on a more complex battlefield. The redesigned division for war numbered 28,256 officers and enlisted men when the trains were authorized wagons or 28,334 when they were authorized motorized equipment (Chart 1).57

The staff, in rationalizing the division, divided the road space it would use between combat and support elements. Combat elements used fourteen miles, while the support elements, depending on whether the trains were motorized or horse-drawn, used five to six miles. Although it required about twenty miles in march formation, a 25 percent increase in road space over the 1914 organization, the division was still thought to be able to move to battle on a single road.58

The new tables dramatically changed the structure of the cavalry division for war. Cavalry brigades reverted to three regiments each, and the nine cavalry regiments acquired permanent headquarters, supply, and machine gun troops. As in the infantry division, the cavalry division fielded an aero squadron. The tables also introduced a divisional engineer train and enlarged the ammunition, supply, and sanitary trains. The division headquarters and headquarters troop and brigade headquarters and headquarters detachments rounded out the unit. Given these changes, the size of the division rose from 10,161 to 18,164 when the trains were equipped with wagons and 18,176 when they were equipped with motorized vehicles (Chart 2), and it occupied approximately nineteen miles of road space on the march.59

To achieve the mobilization force that the Statement of Proper Military Policy proposed-six cavalry brigades, two cavalry divisions, and twenty infantry divisions-the Army needed more troops. In 1916 Congress increased the number of Regular Army regiments to 118 (7 engineer, 21 field artillery, 25 cavalry, and 65 infantry) and increased the size of the National Guard, 800 men for each senator and representative, to be raised over the next five years. Several developments, however, interfered with implementation of the Regular Army portion of the act, especially activities along the Mexican border, a reduction in the General Staff that prevented appropriate planning, and the nation's plunge into the European war.60


TABLE 2 National Guard Infantry Divisions, 1917[edit]

  • Division District
  • 5th Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island
  • 6th New York
  • 7th Pennsylvania
  • 8th New Jersey, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia
  • 9th North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
  • 10th Alabama, Georgia, and Florida
  • 11th Michigan and Wisconsin
  • 12th Illinois
  • 13th Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota
  • 14th Kansas and Missouri
  • 15th Oklahoma and Texas
  • 16th Ohio and West Virginia
  • 17th Indiana and Kentucky
  • 18th Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
  • 19th Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah
  • 20th Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming

Meanwhile the Militia Bureau, formerly the Division of Militia Affairs, began work on new plans to organize Guard divisions. It scrapped the voluntary Stimson Plan and directed the organization of sixteen infantry and two cavalry divisions. Brig. Gen. William A. Mann, Chief of the Militia Bureau, sent the states advance copies of the new tables in January 1917 to acquaint them with the types of units they needed to maintain. Then on 5 May he forwarded the plan for organizing the divisions (Table 2), which gave the infantry divisions priority over the cavalry divisions. Because the Regular Army could more expeditiously organize new units for the existing emergency, Mann did not ask the states to raise any units at that time.61

Between the War with Spain and the United States' intervention in World War I, the Army's principal mission was to defend the national territory and its insular possessions. During this period the Army tested and adopted the infantry division as its basic combined arms unit. The underlying planning assumption was that the infantry division would fight in the United States. This meant, in turn, that one of the principal determinants of a division's size was road-marching speed. The cavalry division, although not neglected, remained more or less a theoretical unit. As the Army mobilized for the Mexican border crisis and took note of trends in foreign armies during the initial campaigns of World War I, its leaders became increasingly convinced of the need to create permanent tactical divisions. Congress approved them in 1916, but the nation entered World War I before these plans had been perfected.

Events during the next two years, however, profoundly affected divisional organizations, the infantry division in particular. For the first time in the nation's experience, the United States Army mobilized a huge expeditionary force to fight overseas in Western Europe, a mission for which it was thoroughly unprepared. The day of the old constabulary army was over. Faced with threats to national security of hitherto unimagined scope emanating from the Old World, the nation had to revolutionize its army to wage war against a formidable continental opponent. The necessity for an effective combined arms organization would force extraordinary changes in its entire structure.


Endnotes for Chapter II[edit]

1 Rpt of the Sec. of War, ARWD, 1899, p. 49.

2 Ibid.

3 WD GO 120, 1903.

4 Ltr, Capt Joseph. T. Dickman to Brig Gen J. Franklin Bell, 16 Sep 1904, no subject, and Ltr, Brig Gen J. Franklin Bell to Capt J. T. Dickman, I 1 Nov 04, no subject, AGO file 1168, RG 393, NARA; Field Service Regulations, United States Army, 1905, see table of contents.

5 Field Service Regulations, 1905 pp. 11-13; Arthur Wagner, Organization and Tactics, 7th ed. (Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 11-12; Paul Bronsart Van Schellendorff, The Duties of the General Staff, 4th ed. (London: Harrison and Sons, 1905), pp. 223-26, 235-38; William Balck, Taktik [Tactics], vol. 3, Kriegsgliederung, Nachrichten, Befehle, Marschdienst (Military Organization, Communications, Orders, and Marches), 4th ed. (Berlin: R. Eisenschmidt, 1903- 07), pp. 16-17, 28-33.

6 Field Service Regulations, 1905, p. 44; Memo Rpt, War Plans Division to the C of S, 5 May 1905, sub: A Proper Proportion of field artillery for the mobile army of the U.S. AGO file, Journal, Reports and Related Paper of the Third Division, 1903-1910, RG 165, NARA.

7 N. F. McClure, "The Infantry Division and Its Composition," Journal of the Military Service Institution 50 (Jan-Feb 1912): 5-9.

8 Field Service Regulations 1905, p. 12, 87-88. Infantry and cavalry regiments were the largest permanent units in the peacetime Army. In 1901 Congress abolished artillery regiments (coast and field). Field artillery regiments were reestablished in 1907.

9 Field Service Regulations, 1905, pp. 25-26.

10 Ibid., p. 12.

11 Ibid.

12 WD Cirs 28, 50, and 61, 1905. In 1903 Congress revised the militia system, dividing the militia into Organized Militia and Reserve Militia classes. The Reserve Militia consisted of an unorganized manpower pool, while the Organized Militia, commonly known as the National Guard, included those units maintained by the states, territories, and District of Columbia. When discussing the National Guard, the District of Columbia is treated as a state unless otherwise noted.

13 WD GO 7, 1903.

14 Timothy K. Nenninger, The Leavenworth Schools and the Old Army (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1978), p. 22-23; Rpt of the Sec. of War, ARWD, 1899, pp. 489, ARWD, 1902, pp. 50- 52; Jamieson, Crossing the Deadly Ground, pp. 60-62. Camp Root, Kansas, today is Camp Whiteside, a subpost of Fort Riley.

15 ARWD, 1904, p. 30, ARWD, 1906, p. 47, AR WD, 1908, p. 37, ARWD, 1909, pp. 28-32; Rpt of the Chief of Staff, ARWD, 1904, p. 223.

16 Rpt of the Chief of Staff, ARWD, 1906, pp. 552-53; Ltr, Brig Gen J. Franklin Bell to Gen Leonard Wood, 18 Apr 12, Wood Papers, Library of Congress (hereafter cited as LC).

17 Rpt of the Sec. of War, ARWD, 1909, pp. 28-32; "The First Field Army, the Initial Step in the Correlation of the Regular Army with the National Guard," The National Guard Magazine 6 (Apr 1910): 352- 54; WD GO 35, 1910.

18 McClure, "The Infantry Division," pp. 6-9; Field Service Regulations, 1910, p. 13.

19 Field Service Regulations, 1910, p. 13.

20 Army and Navy Journal 46 (22 May 09): 1063; Ltr, CG, Philippine Dept, to Army C of S, 27 Jan 1914, sub: Revision of Field Service Regulations, Wood Papers, LC; Field Service Regulations, 1910, pp. 12-13, 15, 42-45; Edgar Raines, "MG J. Franklin Bell and Military Reform; The Chief of Staff Years, 1906-1910" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1976), p. 470; Mahon and Danysh, Infantry Part 1, pp. 380.

21 Field Service Regulations, 1910, p. 15-16.

22 Ibid., p. 13, 34-35; Memo for Secretary, Second Section, Army Staff, 1 Feb 1910, sub: Report of Committee of Second Section, General Staff, on proposed scheme for organizing into one unit the mobile troops of the regular army and organized militia now stationed in New York and New England, AGO Rpt of Second Section, General Staff 1 Jan-30 Apr 1910, RG 165, NARA.

23 Field Service Regulations, 1910, pp. 36-37.

24 WD GO 35, 1910.

25 Rpt of the Chief of Staff, ARWD, 1910, p. 128.

26 Memo, Chief, Div. of Militia Affairs, to CofS, sub: Revocation of General Orders No. 35, WD 1910, 8 Jul 11, AGO file 6106-3, RG 168, NARA; Report on Mobilization of the Organized Militia and National Guard of the United States (Washington: D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1916), p. 48; WD GO 6, 1914.

27 Rpt of the Sec. of War, Rpt of TAG, Rpt of th QMG, ARWD, 1911, pp. 12-16, 2381, 337; Memo for record, 7 Mar 11, no subject, Wood Papers, LC.

28 Rpt of the Chief of Staff and Rpt of TAG, ARWD, 1911, pp. 156-57, 2382. Russell F. Weigley, History of the United States Army (New York: Macmillan, 1967), p. 334. The quote is from ltr, Gen Wood to Col James G. Harbord, 26 Apr 1911, Wood Papers, LC.

29 Clarence C. Clendenen, Blood on the Border: The United States Army and the Mexican Irregulars (New York: Macmillan, 1969), p. 1489; WCD, "Statement for release in morning papers on Monday, Febraury 3," Wood Papers, LC.

30 Rpt of the Inspector General, ARWD, 7911, pp. 267-69.

31 Rpt of the Chief Signal Officer, ARWD, 1911, pp. 721, 739.

32 Ltr, William Howard Taft to Gen Leonard Wood, 12 Mar 1912, no subject, Wood Papers, LC: Rpt of TAG, ARWD, 1911, p. 242.

33 Ltr, John M. Palmer to J. F. Morrison, 22 Jan 12, John McA. Palmer Papers, LC; I. B. Honey, Jr., General John M. Palmer, Citizen Soldiers, and the Army of a Democracy (Westport, Corm: Greenwood Press, 1983), pp. 202-05.

34 Rpt on the Organization of Land Forces of the United States, Appendix A, ARWD, 1912, p. 125.

35 Rpt Sec. of War, ARWD, 1912, pp. 14-16; Ltr, AG, Mass. to Gen Wood, 3 Oct 1912, Wood Papers, LC (other letters from state adjutants general are in the Wood Papers; Memo for CofS, draft of Ltr to governors on the reorganization of the National Guard, 6 Nov 12, War College Division, Army Staff (hereafter cited as WCD), 7409-1, RG 168, NARA.

36 WD GO 9, 1913; WCD, "Statement for release in morning papers on Monday, February 3," 1 Feb 13, Wood Papers, LC.

37 "General Orders No. 9," Infantry Journal 9 (Mar-Apr 1913): 706-08.

38 George Van Horn Moseley, "One Soldier's Journey," Ms history, 3 vols., 1:103, Moseley Papers, LC; Memo 52103, C, Division of Militia Affairs, to C, WCD, sub: Organized Military Divisional Organization, 12 Jan 15, AGO file 7409-25, RG 168, NARA; WD Cir 8, 1913, and 19, 1914; "The Division Plan," National Guard Magazine 10 (Jan 1913): 14.

39 Rpt of the Sec. of War and Rpt of the C of S, ARWD, 1913, pp. 31, 174; GO 7, State of New York, 1908, printed in Rpt of the Adjutant General, State of New York, 1908, p. 270; GO 1, Pennsylvania National Guard, 1879, printed in Rpt of the Adjutant General, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 83.

40 Memo, WCD for C of S, 21 Feb 1914, sub: Tables of Organization, US Army, 1914, AGO file 8371, RG 165, NARA; Tables of Organization: U.S. Army, 1914 (Washington: D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), p. 19 (hereafter cited as TO, 1914).

41 TO, 1914, p. 19; James A. Huston, Sinews of War: Army Logistics (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1966), p. 295; Wagner, , pp. 19-20.

42 TO, 1914, pp. 12-13, 19.

43 McClure, "The Infantry Division." p. 10; Report on the Organization of Land Forces in ARWD, 1912, pp. 103-04.

44 TO, 7914, pp. 14, 23; Report on the Organization of Land Forces, pp. 104-05.

45 Field Service Regulations 1914, p. 10.

46 Rpt of the Sec. of War, ARWD, 1912, pp. 13-14; Rpt of the Sec. of War and Rpt of the Second Division, ARWD, 1913, pp. 9-10, 113; Thomas P Burdett, "Mobilizations of 1911 and 1913," Military Review 53 (Jut 1974): 72.

47 Frederic L. Huidekoper, Military Unpreparedness of the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1915), pp. 446-48; Rpt of the C of S, 1914, and Rpt of TAG, ARWD, 1914, pp. 13536, 179; Rpt of the C of S and Rpt of TAG, ARWD, 1915, pp. 151-52, 211-12; Clendenen, Blood on the Border, p. 162; Burden, "Mobilizations of 1911 and 1913," p. 72: Rpt of TAG, ARWD, 1916, p. 278.

48 Rpt of the Second Division, AR WD, 1913, pp. 118-l 9.

49 Rpt of the Chief of Staff, ARWD, 1916, pp. 186-89; John J. Pershing, Report of Operations of the Punitive Expedition to 30 June 1916, pp. 4-5, AGO file 2480591 RG 120, NARA; John A. Porter, "The Punitive Expedition," Quartermaster Review 12 (Jan-Feb 1933): 18-30.

50 Frederick Funston, Annual Report for FY 1916, Southern Department, p. 26, AGO file 243231, RG 120, NARA; Robert T. Thomas and Inez V. Allen, "The Mexican Punitive Expedition under Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing," Ms in the Organizational History Branch, Center of Military History, hereafter cited as DAMH-HSO, p. II-2; Porter, "The Punitive Expedition," pp. 22-23.

51 Rpt of the Chief of Staff, ARWD, 1916, pp. 186-89.

52 Report on Mobilization of the Organized Militia and the National Guard of the United States, 1916, pp. 10, 50-51; "Mobilization in Spite of War Department," National Guard Magazine, 13 (Aug 1916): 153+; Ltr, George Van Horn Moseley to Leonard Wood, 3 Sep 1916, no subject, Wood Papers, LC; John F. O'Ryan, The Story of the 27th Division, 2 vols. (New York: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., 1921), 1:120-25; Pennsylvania in the World War: An Illustrated History of the Twenty-Eighth Division, 2 vols. (Pittsburgh: States Publications Society, 1921), pp. 1:120-25.

53 Rpt of TAG, ARWD, 1917, p. 196- 97; GO 8 and 25, Southern Department, 1917, copies in Division General files, DAMH-HSO; Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War (1917-19), Zone of the Interior (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1949), pp. 602-05.

54 John P. Finnegan, Against the Specter of a Dragon (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1974), pp. 45-46; Rpt of Sec. of War, Appendix C, Statement of Proper Military Policy, ARWD, 1915, pp. 113, 126-31.

55 Statement of Proper Military Policy, pp. 126-31; Finnegan, Against the Specter of a Dragon, pp. 478.

56 Weigley, History of the United States Army, 3448; WD Bull 16, 1916; Finnegan, Against the Specter of a Dragon, p. 44-52; "Mobilization in Spite of War Department," 153+.

57 Table of Organization US Army, 1917 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1917), pp. 390, (hereafter cited as TO 1917).

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid., pp. 57-58.

60 Statement of Proper Military Policy, pp. 124-26; WD Bull 16, 1916; WD GO 22 and 50, 1916.

61 Rpt of the Chief of the Militia Bureau, ARWD, 1917, pp. 850-52; Rpt of the Chief of the Militia Bureau, ARWD, 1918, p. 1102; Ltr, Chief of the Militia Bureau, to TAGS of all States, Territory of Hawaii, District of Columbia, and inspector-instructors and officers in charge of militia affairs, department headquarters, 5 May 1917, sub: Organization and entry in Federal service of National Guard, (MB) file 325.4, RG 168, NARA.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).
– US Army Center for Military History