78th Infantry Division, United States Army, World War I

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Known as the "Lightning Division." Insignia, crimson semi-circle with lightning flash in white. Organized about Aug. 25, 1917, at Camp Dix, New Jersey. The majority of the officers were from New York State and were trained at Madison Barracks. Enlisted personnel from northern New York State, New Jersey and Delaware. About the middle of Oct., 1917, the division began the gradual transfer of over 13,000 enlisted men, more or less trained, to other camps. On May 8, 1918, the division began movement overseas. The artillery brigade landed in France and proceeded to Brittany for training. The infantry units landed in England on June 4th and 5th, and crossed to Calais, three or four days later. The last units of the division arrived in France June 11, 1918.

Infantry units began training June 17, 1918, behind the Hazebrouck front in the British area. On July 19th, the division moved to an area east of St. Pol and trained there until Aug., 19th, when the infantry units moved to the Bourbonne-les Bains area. On Aug. 31st, the division began moving to the St. Mihiel front, arriving Sept. 10th. It remained in 1st Corps Reserve until Sept. 15th and 16th, when it relieved the 2nd and 5th Divisions. The artillery brigade had meanwhile come up to this front and was supporting the 90th Division. The division occupied the Limey sector until Oct. 4th when it was relieved and rejoined by the artillery brigade, moved to the Argonne forest. The division relieved the 77th Division on Oct. 16th and continued in the line until Nov. 5th, advancing twenty-one kilometers. On Nov. 6th the division, less artillery brigade and ammunition train, moved back to the Argonne camps west of Varennes, then to Florent, Les Islettes and to the south of St. Menenhould. It entrained for the Semur training area-on Nov. 15th.

This division captured from the enemy, 9 officers, 392 men, several pieces of artillery, numerous machine guns and quantities of other military supplies. It made a total advance against resistance of twenty-one kilometers or about thirteen miles. Casualties, 813, of which 63 were prisoners of war. Distinguished Service Crosses awarded, 95.

The 78th Division was assigned to:

Primary subordinate units were:


  • Maj.-Gen. Chase W. Kennedy, Aug. 23 to Dec. 27, 1917
  • Maj. Gen. Hugh L. Scott, Dec. 28, 1917 to March 15, 1918
  • Brig.-Gen. Jas. T. Dean, March 16 to April 20, 1918
  • Maj. Gen. Jas H. McRae, April 20 to Nov.11, 1918

For more information on the 78th Division during World War I, see:

  • HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY- EIGHTH DIVISION IN THE WORLD WAR 1917-18-19 Compiled and Edited by THOMAS F. MEEHAN Secretary-Treasurer, Association of the 78th Division; Copyrighted 1921 by Association of the 78th Division. PRINTED BY MERCANTILE PRINTING COMPANY WILMINGTON, DELAWARE, NEW YORK DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY. There are several photographs in this book!

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