Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

181st Infantry Regiment (United States)

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Active  1636–present
Motto(s)  "Keep Your Powder Dry”
Size  Battalion
181st Infantry Regiment (United States)
Country  England (1636-1707) Great Britain (1707-1776)  United States (1776-Present)
Branch  Massachusetts Army National Guard
Anniversaries  19 April (Anniversary of Lexington (1775) and Pratt Street Riot (1861))

The 181st Infantry Regiment shares the distinction of being the oldest combat regiment in the United States Army. The regiment traces its history to 13 December 1636, when it was one of four colonial regiments of foot of the British Crown in Massachusetts. It later served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, with Union forces in the American Civil War, and as a federalized Massachusetts National Guard regiment with the U.S. Army during War with Spain, Mexican Border Campaign, World War I and World War II. Most recently the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry has served in Iraq, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and in Afghanistan. The only active element of the regiment is the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, which returned from a year of service in Afghanistan in July 2011.


Formation and colonial operations

The 181st Infantry Regiment was organized 13 December 1636 in the Massachusetts Militia from existing train bands as the North Regiment. Redesignated 7 September 1643 as the Middlesex Regiment. Expanded 13 October 1680 to form the 1st (or Lower) Middlesex Regiment and the 2nd (or Upper) Middlesex Regiment (consisting of companies from Concord, Bedford, Sudbury, Marlborough, Chelmsford, Billerica, Groton, Acton, Lancaster, and Dunstable) (1st Middlesex Regiment – hereafter separate lineage (see 182nd Infantry Regiment (United States)).

Massachusetts Army and the American Revolution

The soldiers of the 2nd Middlesex Regiment fought at the Battle of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775. The regiment was reorganized and entered the Massachusetts Army as elements of Prescott's Regiment, Thomas' Regiment, Bridges' Regiment, Nixon's Regiment and Johnathan Brewer's Regiment of the Massachusetts Line.

The unit were redesignated on 1 January 1776 as the 6th Continental Regiment, the 13th Massachusetts Regiment, and the 23rd Continental Regiment of the Continental Line, Fought in the following campaigns: Battle of Lexington and Concord, Siege of Boston(Bunker Hill), Battle of Long Island, Battle of Trenton, Battle of Princeton, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Monmouth, and in New Jersey 1776, New York 1776, and Rhode Island 1778.

(The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (Hampshire Regiment) for Battle of Quebec 1775 and Rhode Island 1780.)

War of 1812

The 181st Infantry is one of only nineteen Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812. The Massachusetts militia was one of the largest, best equipped and best trained of any of the state militias, but support for the war in New England was lukewarm at best. As a consequence, no Massachusetts units were federalized until 1814, although as state units they were active in guarding the state's coastline. Only after Great Britain burned Washington and generally increased its naval pressure on the East Coast did Massachusetts allow its militias to be mustered into federal service.

Civil War

With the start of the Civil War the 6th Massachusetts (Militia) was ordered into active service for the defense of Washington in April 1861. As it marched to the relief of the capitol, it was attacked by a pro-southern mob in Baltimore (Pratt Street Riot). The regiment fought its way through, leaving four of its own dead on the streets of the city. On their arrival in Washington, they were greeted by President Lincoln, who shook Colonel Jones's hand and said, "Thank God, you have come." They slept that night in the Capitol building. The 6th Massachusetts was the first armed and trained regiment to arrive in Washington.

It was mustered into federal service on 22 April 1861 at Washington, D.C., for three months service, and served in the defenses of Washington before being mustered out on 2 August 1861 at Boston.

On 26 August 1861, veterans of the 6th Mass. formed the 26th Mass. Infantry in Cambridge. This regiment served four years and was mustered out of service on 26 August 1865 in Savannah, GA. Fought in the following campaigns: Mississippi River Campaign, Battle of Petersburg, Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

In 1862, the 6th Mass. (Militia) recruited back up to strength and were again mustered into federal service between 31 August - 8 September 1862. The regiment was stationed at Fort Monroe, Virginia and served at Deserted House, VA on 30 Jan. 1863 and the siege of Suffolk, VA in May 1863. Private Joseph S.G. Sweatt of Company C was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Carsville, VA on 15 May 1863. The citation reads: "When ordered to retreat this soldier turned and rushed back to the front, in the face of heavy fire of the enemy, in an endeavor to rescue his wounded comrades, remaining by them until overpowered and taken prisoner." Mustered out on 3 June 1863 at Lowell. In July 1863 Company F was ordered to state service to suppress the Boston Draft Riots. Campaigns: Virginia 1862, Virginia 1863.

The 6th Mass. (Militia) was again mustered into federal service, in July 1864 for 100 days service and did guard duty at Arlington Heights and at Fort Delaware before being mustered out on 27 October 1864 at Readville, Massachusetts and resumed state status.

(The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (10th Massachusetts) for the Peninsula Campaign, Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredricksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of Spotsylvania and Battle of Cold Harbor.)

National Guard and overseas service

During the War with Spain, the unit mustered into federal service on 6 May 1896 at Framingham, Massachusetts. The 6th Massachusetts Regiment (Spanish–American War) served with the Expeditionary Force in Puerto Rico. Mustered out on 21 January 1899. (The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (2nd Massachusetts) for Santiago Campaign Battle of El Caney.)

The Land forces of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia were redesignated as the Massachusetts National Guard on 15 November 1907.

The 6th Mass. was mustered into federal service on 25 June 1916 at Framingham for Mexican Border Campaign and stationed at El Paso, TX, and mustered out between 10–15 November 1916.

World War I

The regiment was mustered again into federal service on 30 March 1917 for World War I. Soldiers from the 6th Massachusetts were transferred to form the regiments of the Yankee Division. The majority of the soldiers helped form the 104th Infantry Regiment. After the deployment of the Yankee Division the remaining soldiers of the 6th Mass. (15 officers and 279 enlisted men) trained at Camp Wadsworth and formed the 4th Pioneer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Holton B. Perkins and filled to wartime strength with draftees. The pioneer regiments included such specialists as mechanics, carpenters, farriers and masons. They were supposed to work under the direction of the engineers to build roads, bridges, gun emplacements and camps "within the sound of the guns." They received standard infantry training so that they could defend themselves, but there are very few documented instances of any pioneer troops unslinging their rifles. Once in France, the regiment was selected to be re-trained to form the 382nd Infantry Regiment. Before that transition could be executed the Fall Offensives of 1918 pushed the 4th Pioneer Infantry into service as engineer support and labor troops. The regiment was demobilized in February 1919 at Camp A.P. Hill, VA. Served in the following campaigns: Battle of Saint Mihiel, Meuse Argonne Offensive, and Battle of Lorraine 1918.

The regiment additionally is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry (2nd Massachusetts) for Isle de France, Lorraine 1918, and Champagne-Marne.

The unit reorganized on 31 August 1921 as the 3rd Infantry Massachusetts National Guard. It was redesignated as the 181st Infantry and assigned to the 26th Division on 30 November 1921 with headquarters at Worcester, Massachusetts.

World War II

The unit was inducted into federal service on 16 January 1941. The 181st Infantry conducted training at Camp Edwards and took part in the Carolina Maneuvers from 28 September to 6 December 1941.

With the United States entry into World War II, the 181st was relieved from the 26th Division and assigned to the Eastern Coastal Defense Command. (The 181st Infantry was replaced as part of the 26th Division by the 328th Infantry Regiment. The 181st Infantry was assigned to the Eastern Defense Command conducting coastal patrols from Higgins Beach, Maine to Watch Hill, RI to prevent the landing of German agents from U-Boats. The 181st Infantry was deactivated on 8 February 1944 and the soldiers were sent to Italy as infantry replacements in the 3rd, 34th and 36th Infantry Divisions).

The 328th Infantry regiment fought across Europe with the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division. Technical Sergeant Alfred L. Wilson was posthumously presented with the Medal of Honor for lifesaving care conducted under fire.

The regiment is entitled battle honors through the 104th Infantry Regiment (United States) (2nd Massachusetts) and the 328th Infantry Regiment for Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), Central Europe and in the Army of Occupation in Austria.

In 1947 the 181st Infantry was re-formed with headquarters at Worcester. (The war record of the 328th Infantry was assigned to the 181st Infantry.)

Recent service and the Global War on Terror

In September 2003 the 1-181st Infantry Regiment deployed to Cuba in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo. The unit was stationed at Camp America located on the United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The battalion's mission was to conduct security and presence patrols in and around Camp Delta, the maximum security prison housing high value detainees from the Global War on Terror.

September, 2005, 1-181st Infantry mobilized as the lead element of Joint Task Force Yankee for rescue and security operations in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

On 1 December 2005, the 1st Battalion, 104th Infantry was deactivated and the remaining units were reconstituted and integrated into the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment.

In 2007, elements of the 1-181 Infantry were mobilized for one year duty at the various locations in Iraq. Companies served as a rear area operations center, as well as providing security for facilities and personal protection for designated individuals.

The 1-181st Infantry mobilized on 31 July 2010 for a year service at various sites throughout Afghanistan, providing security to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and bases throughout Kabul, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan. Campaign credit for Afghanistan Consolidation III (2010–11) and Transition I (2011)The 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry was awarded the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation for distinctly meritorious performance in counterinsurgency, support and combat operations in Afghanistan from October 2010 to July 2011.


  • Headquarters Company 1-181 Infantry (Wellington Rifles)
  • Company A 1-181 Infantry (Springfield Rifles)
  • Company B 1-181 Infantry
  • Company C 1-181 Infantry (Cambridge City Guard)
  • Company D 1-181 Infantry (Hudson Light Guards)
  • 1181 Forward Support Company
  • References

    181st Infantry Regiment (United States) Wikipedia

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