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Historical Report of the Chief Engineer

Including All Operations of the Engineer Department
American Expeditionary Forces 1917-1919

Pages 174-176

2d Engineers, 2d Division.—The 1st Battalion was detached from the regiment, then engaged in training with its division in its training area on February 26, 1918, and on the following day, to supplement the 1st Engineers, joined the 1st Division in the Ansauville subsector, north of Toul, occupied jointly with the French. The battalion there received front-line training similar to that given to the 1st Engineers until May 9, when it rejoined its regiment with the 2d Division.

In the meantime, on March 15, the regimental headquarters and the 2d Battalion had left with the 2d Division for a tour of front-line training with the French in the Robert Espagne and Sommedieue sectors, south of Verdun. It was there the 1st Battalion joined the regiment.

The German drives of March and April caused Marshal Foch to retire his reserve divisions from positions in training to points where long movements might be facilitated. Accordingly the 2d Division, which had been turned over to him, was assembled near Bar-le-Duc, May 10-12, and after a week of cleaning up, reequipping, and drilling, the Engineer regiment was moved with the division on the 20th to the vicinity of Chaumont-en-Vexin, from which latter point the 1st Division had already gone into line at Cantigny. It was intended that the 2d Division should relieve the 1st Division and the 2d Engineers had received orders to proceed into line near Montidier when, on the afternoon of May 30, the orders were rescinded, and the entire 2d Division was prepared for its march to the Chateau Thierry front, where it was thrown in to stop the advance of the enemy west of Chateau-Thierry. On June 3 the division took over a line thinly held by the French, and running through Hill No. 142, south and east, through Lucy-le-Bocage, T[r]iangle, Le-Thiolet to La-Mouette Farm. The division front was held on the left by the 4th (Marine) Brigade, 5th and 6th Marines, and on the right by the 3d (Infantry) Brigade, 9th and 23d Infantry.

The Germans attacked principally at Lucy-Le-Bocage, on the following day, and were decisively repulsed. On the 6th the division began its attack which continued day after day in spite of vigorous enemy counter attacks. By July 10, when the division was relieved, it had won Belleau Wood, Bouresches, Dois de la Maritte, and Vaux. It had forced back the German line approximately a mile and a half, so that the division front was established on the line running south­easterly from Hill No. 126, and including Belleau Wood, Bouresches, and Vaux.

The 2d Engineers was engaged as Infantry throughout almost the entire period of defense and offense, the 1st Battalion attached to the 32d Brigade and the 2d Battalion attached to the 4th Brigade. Elements of the regiment, nevertheless, did procure sufficient relief from action as combatants, by working at night, to construct a very strong second line of defense approximately upon the division's original jump-off position. The excellence of the 2d Engineers as a combatant unit is attested by numerous citations concerning its work in the 2d Division's advance. It is significant that all or part of the 2d Engineers participated with the Marine and 3d Infantry Brigade on an equal footing as combatants in every action in that defensive and offensive operation which so covered those brigades with glory. The extent of the regiment's casualties is indicated by the fact that at the end of the series of actions one company mustered 30 men. The regiment's technical ability, however, was afforded no opportunity for test in the operation. The 2d Division, after stabilizing its line, was relieved by the 26th Division, the 101st Engineers taking over from the 2d Engineers. The latter regiment then withdrew to the vicinity of Montreuil-aux-Lions, where, until July 16, it rested, refitted, drilled, and accomplished some work on the corps defense line. On the 16th it moved in camions with the division to its sector in the line southwest of Soissons. The 2d Division took over to the right and south of the 1st Morrocan [sp] Division, on whose left was the 1st (American) Division. The southern point of the 2d Division's line of attack was Chavigny Farm. The objective of the three divisions, has already been described. The 2d Division attacked on the morning of the 18th, advanced 8 kilometers in the first 26 hours, and took its objectives.

During the advance both battalions of the 2d Engineers were attached to attacking Infantry elements. As new positions were taken they were consolidated and partially manned by the Engineers. From darkness until 2 a. m. on the night of July 19-20 both battalions worked on the organization of the division's new front, part of the men working their rifles where they were needed and the others working their entrenching tools on the defense works. Withdrawn from the front line at 2 a. m. on the 20th, the regiment and the division were relieved from the sector on that day, retiring to the vicinity of Meaux. On the 30th, after a slight rest and some reequipping, the regiment moved with its division by train to Champigneulles, near Nancy, in preparation for the St. Mihiel offensive.

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