The 28th Infantry Division in World War II
Publication Year: 2010
An inventive study of relations between the National Guard and the Regular Army during World War II, Guard Wars follows the Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Infantry Division from its peacetime status through training and into combat in Western Europe. The broader story, spanning the years 1939--1945, sheds light on the National Guard, the U.S. Army, and American identities and priorities during the war years. Michael E. Weaver carefully tracks the division's difficult transformation into a combat-ready unit and highlights General Omar Bradley's extraordinary capacity for leadership -- which turned the Pennsylvanians from the least capable to one of the more capable units, a claim dearly tested in the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. This absorbing and informative analysis chronicles the nation's response to the extreme demands of a world war, and the flexibility its leaders and soldiers displayed in the chaos of combat.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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List of Maps
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I have accumulated many debts during the writing of this book. The project originated in graduate school, and my parents, Fred and Evelyn Weaver, contributed much to its completion. During my time at Temple University, Russell F. Weigley encouraged my production of this work’s foundation, a dissertation that examined the Pennsylvania National Guard’s development ...
1. Introduction: Background and Issues
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Ever since the founding of the United States, policy makers have wrestled with numerous national security challenges. Among the most persistent has been the organization and manning of the army: should the country field a “regular” army composed of full-time well-trained professional soldiers, or should it rely on a militia system of civilians called to arms only when the country faces a military...
2. Relations with the Army and State Identity
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American national defense efforts in the late 1930s were hesitant and reluctant. They centered on the defense of North America; only a minority of Americans sought intervention in the crises in Europe and Asia. Feelings of contempt for the Old World in the aftermath of the First World War combined with the crisis of the Great Depression resulted in an inward focus within the...
3. Readiness and Training: 1939–1941
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Mobilizing the National Guard along with the Regular Army was a basic assumption of national defense planning, and as far as the war plans were concerned, making use of National Guard forces was not as optional as the debates of 1940 and 1941 made it appear. The United States was not ready for war when the security crisis in Europe worsened in 1938 and 1939, nor after...
4. Peacetime Maneuvers: 1939–1941
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Starting in 1935, National Guard units gathered with their Regular Army counterparts during the summer to conduct large-scale maneuvers.1 The Pennsylvania National Guard participated in four such exercises: once in 1939 and in 1940, and twice in 1941. The manner in which the NG participated revealed an institution full of esprit de corps and commitment to military service, but ...
5. The Pennsylvania National Guard and American Society
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Soldiers in the Pennsylvania National Guard interacted with society in ways distinctive from the manner in which the Regular Army related to the country and its people. Guardsmen had an unsettled and insecure relationship with their employers, who were ambivalent about adjusting work schedules to allow for National Guard training. Since they were civilian-soldiers, the public ...
6. Social Class, Recruiting, and Ideology
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A close examination of the soldiers who volunteered for the PNG prior to its induction into federal service highlights several issues surrounding American military service before the United States became fully involved in the war. Starting with an examination of the 1,988 PNG enlistment records remaining from 1939 to 1941, one can construct a social profile...
7. The October Purge
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Edward Martin led his division through the Carolina Maneuvers during the fall of 1941 knowing that his days as division commander were numbered. General Marshall had notified him on September 4 that at the age of sixty-two Martin was too old for the rigors of field operations and that he would have to relinquish his command. The Pennsylvania adjutant general took his medicine ...
8. Stateside Training: 1942–1943
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The first half of 1942 was a dreadful and unproductive time for the Keystone Division. Chaos presided over its manning during the first months of 1942 because the country had delayed the buildup and expansion of the Army. Just after Pearl Harbor, the Army Ground Forces totaled approximately 1.3 million soldiers and officers organized in thirty-six divisions in varying states of readiness. The ...
9. Training in Wales: 1943–1944
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Ships carrying the soldiers left port on October 7–8, and within two days the sea’s roughness started taking its toll. Seasickness sent many to bed.1 Cooped up and desperate to see daylight, the men on the S.S. Santa Paula opened its removable roof only to gaze at the depressing “dripping gray clouds of the North Atlantic.”2 By October 16 stormy weather made the men anxious for the ...
10. From Normandy to the West Wall
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When the 28th Infantry Division reached the shores of France on July 27th, its soldiers found the Normandy beaches littered with the refuse of fighting. After clambering up from the shore, they stared at “a small green field covered with row upon row of white crosses.”1 On their way to the front the soldiers saw and smelled the consequences of the recent fighting—fields scattered ...
11. Battle of the H
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While the 28th Infantry Division recovered from its battles along the Siegfried Line in October, VII Corps was carrying out an offensive to its north to try to reach the Rhine. Beginning in late September, Courtney H. Hodges and the VII Corps commander, Major General J. Lawton Collins, decided that advanc
12. Battle of the Bulge: Stubbornness and Flexibility
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December 16 saw the outbreak of the U.S. Army’s fiercest battle since Gettysburg: the Battle of the Bulge. The 28th Infantry Division was in the middle of the action from the beginning, and its performance highlighted two noteworthy traits of the Army: the flexibility of its organization and command structure, and the fighting skill, leadership, and tenacity of the American ...
13. Winter Battles
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Following the relief of Bastogne, the division was kept out of major combat operations for a month. The 112th Infantry functioned as part of XVIII Airborne Corps’s reserve through the end of December, with only the 2nd Battalion carrying out an attack as an attachment to the 75th Infantry Division. Through much of January its men manned a position between Givet and Verdun.1...
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One obvious question for the end of a book that examines the transformation of a National Guard division into an infantry division of the U.S. Army is this: Which kind of officer was better: National Guard, Regular, or Reserve? The surviving records may not yield a definitive answer, and anecdotal accounts from veterans follow no pattern. The small number of veterans who answered ...
Appendix 1: The Execution of Private Slovik
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Appendix 2: The Reestablishment of the Pennsylvania National Guard
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Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 17 b&w illus., 11 maps
Publication Year: 2010