Camp Eagle Pass, TX – May 15, 1916

On this day 105 years ago, the 1st and 3d Battalions of The Old Guard arrived in Eagle Pass, TX.

After three years in New York State–and a reunion with families not seen for three years–the 3d Infantry Regiment was ordered to the border with Mexico in Texas. War in Europe and an unstable political situation in Mexico were the reasons, spurred on by an attack on the town of Columbus, NM, by the irregular Mexican troops of Pancho Villa. This led to a US action in Mexico led by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing that came to be called the “Punitive Expedition.” Some troops, including the 3d Infantry Regiment, remained on the border. When the United States decided to close the largely unprotected border with Mexico, a large number of troops were kept on the border until the Mexican political situation smoothed out in 1920. A few regiments of regulars, among them.

The Old Guard, provided a disciplined backbone and cadre of men who trained citizen soldiers for warfare in Europe. Levied several times for men to fill up infantry units ordered overseas, by the end of the war and the occupation duty on the Rhine in 1921, almost every man in the Regiment in 1916 had been ordered overseas. In the Regiment at this time–and destined to rotate through and serve in Europe–were several young officers who were later to become famous: including James A. Van Fleet, later Field Commander in Korea; Henry H. Arnold, Army Air Force Chief of Staff during WWII; and Matthew B. Ridgway, Chief of Staff of the Army during the 1950’s.

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