1st Brigade 29th Infantry Division (Light)

The 1st Brigade's lineage dates back to 1742 when Colonel James Patton organized the Augusta County Regiment of Militia. This Militia protected settlers against Indians and later the French, during the period prior to 1775. During the Revolutionary War, the battalion fought under General Andrew Lewis who was the commander of the 2nd Virginia Regiment.

The geographical area covered by the 1st Brigade furnished several regiments which formed in 1861 as the First Virginia Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah, Confederate States Army, commanded by Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson. It was at the first battle of Manassas, 21 JUL 1861, that the brigade won the illustrious nickname "The Stonewall Brigade".

The Virginia volunteers were first designated as the Virginia National Guard in 1916 and both the First and Second Virginia Regiments were called into Federal Service for duty on the Mexican Border from 1916 to 1917.

In 1917, the First, Second, and Fourth Virginia Regiments were combined to form the 116th Infantry Regiment of the newly formed 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division. The Blue and Gray Division was formed at Camp McClellan, Alabama, and was composed of National Guard units from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.

The 116th Regiment saw heavy action in France during World War I, and as a result, the Infantry battalions earned the motto "Ever Forward" for their reputation of never having given ground in battle.

Between World Wars the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division became a part of the National Guard, and was called into Federal Service again on 03 FEB 1941. The Regiment trained at Fort Meade, Maryland and then A.P.Hill Military Reservation before it embarked for England in October of 1942 to engage in "D-Day" preparations.

"D-Day", 06 JUN 44, found the 116th Regimental Combat Team spearheading one of the greatest military operations in history - - the assault landing on the German held coast of Normandy. The 116th Infantry, assault regiment of the Division, suffered 341 casualties on Omaha Beach.

After gaining a foothold and pushing inland, the 116th drove on toward St. Lo. The fall of this heavily defended stronghold led to the breakthrough. Major Thomas D. Howie, a Battalion Commander in the 116th, killed in action before the capture of the town, became a legend as the "Major of St. Lo". As he issued his final attack order, he parted company with his Commanders and staff with, "See you in St. Lo!"

Pinched out of line in August, the 116th was sent to Brittany to reduce the Wehrmacht fortifications at Brest, chief port on the peninsula, and fanatically defended by Nazi paratroopers. This mission accomplished, the Division took off on a 200 mile move across France, Belgium and Holland to attack the vaunted Siegfried Line. They smashed through at Aachen and became the first allied Division to reach the Roer River, holding its position throughout the Battle of the Bulge to the South.

In February of 1945 the 29th crossed the Roer and pushed on to the Rhine. On 02 MAY 45, the Blue & Gray made the historic link-up with Russian forces along the Elbe River. A few days later the war ended and the 29th counted its casualties; 19,814 killed, wounded and missing. The Division was inactivated from Federal Service in January 1946 and reactivation began in its National Guard role later that summer.

In August 1985 the 29th Infantry Division was reactivated with the 116th Regiment as the division's 1st Brigade. Today the 1st Brigade stands ready to serve the Commonwealth and Country. "Ever Forward"

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Courtesy of the 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation, Inc.
Last Updated November 13, 2001
Copyright 2001