Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, August 22, 2015

99 Years Ago: The National Guard Deploys On the Border

On the Border
Arizona, 1916

On 9 March 1916, Mexican rebels led by Pancho Villa attacked the U.S. Army garrison at Columbus, New Mexico. All available troops were rushed to the U.S.-Mexican border, but there were not enough regulars to patrol such a vast area. On 9 May the National Guard of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas was called into Federal service; on 18 June the entire National Guard, except for coast artillery units, was called. Within days the first of 158,664 National Guardsmen were on their way to camps in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. National Guard units began patrolling the border immediately and columns of Guardsmen soon dotted the desolate landscape from Arizona to Texas

A typical National Guard unit sent to the border was the 2nd Connecticut Infantry. On 20 June 1916 the regiment assembled and began preparations for the long rail journey to the border. Within a week they were on a troop train headed for Nogales, Arizona. Although their patrols along the border were important, the training that the Guardsmen received was invaluable. Guardsmen were physically toughened and officers and NCOs gained experience in handling troops in the field. The 2nd Connecticut mustered out of Federal service in November 1916, only to be mobilized again in February 1917. The training the regiment received in Arizona would be important after the U.S. entered World War I two months later. Redesignated as the 102nd Infantry and assigned to the famous 26th "Yankee" Division, the regiment fought in six World War I campaigns. Today the 102nd Infantry, Connecticut Army National Guard, continues its proud record of over 300 years of service to state and nation.

From the U.S. Army Center for Military History
Painting by Donna Neary, as part of the National Guard Heritage Series

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