Private Collection

 

Courtesy New York Public Library

 

Courtesy 1st Division Museum

 

Colonel Hanson Ely

50-year-old Colonel Hanson Ely, a native of Texas, commanded the unit

making the attack, the 28th Infantry Regiment, through the battle. 

Wearing a broad-shouldered, imposing build on a 6'3" frame, he had the type of physique

that breeds wartime legend.  He was a member of the West Point Class of 1891 where his

reputation as a boxer prevented many fights among cadets and instilled fear in first-year plebes. 

As a commander, his men called him a "steam-roller," and General Bullard quipped: "He will fight his friends if no enemy is handy."  But his force of personality was matched by his care for his men.  Through the three day battle, he worked day and night, staying in constant contact with his field commanders, personally visiting the front lines and pushing the brigade and division headquarters for relief for his exhausted troops.  He would go on to win the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery at Soissons and later command a division himself, but he would forever be known as "Ely of Cantigny." 

                                Brig. Gen. Charles Summerall

51-year-old Brigadier General Charles Pelot Summerall (pictured right as a major general after the battle), a Florida native and West Point class of 1892, was Bullard's choice to lead the division artillery.  As a young artillery lieutenant, he had effectively employed his guns against the Moro rebels in the Philippines in support of then-brevet-Col. Bullard's infantry.  At Cantigny, he established effective liaison with the front-line infantry and employed his own three field artillery regiments and supporting French artillery units in a preparatory bombardment, counter-battery fire, and a perfectly-orchestrated creeping barrage that combined with the infantry assault to take and hold the village of Cantigny, resulting in the first American victory in Europe. 

Maj. Gen. Robert Bullard, 1st Division Commander

57-year-old Major General Robert Lee Bullard (left), a native of Alabama and West Point class of 1885, commanded the 1st Division from December 1917 and through their victory at the battle of Cantigny.  Bullard spent much of his 30-year Army career prior to the World War leading volunteer regiments of citizen soldiers in the Philippines and on the Mexican border.  He had little regard for ceremony or formality and was a frequent presence up at the front lines with his soldiers through even the toughest of conditions.  He was personable, spoke with a high-pitched southern twang and was fluent in French, attributes that aided his deft touch in striking a successful balance between the tactical preferences of his boss, General Pershing, and the hard-won lessons of trench warfare he encouraged his men to learn from the French Army.  His choice of General Summerall as his artillery commander--and confidence Bullard placed in him and his young operations officer, Lt. Col. George Marshall, to draft the plan of attack on Cantigny--marked the beginning of combined arms and the birth of the modern Army.

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