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Old Hickory Division

by R. Jackson Marshall III, 2006The Thirtieth Infantry Division overseeing the movement of German prisoners of war. Courtesy of North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh.

The Old Hickory Division, a World War I unit, initially consisted of National Guard units from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Officially the Thirtieth Division, it was nicknamed in honor of general and seventh U.S. president Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, who had connections with all three states. The division was formed on 18 July 1917 at Camp Sevier near Greenville, S.C.; later the state National Guard distinctions were eliminated. In October 1917 additional draftees from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota increased the Old Hickory's ranks to full wartime strength of approximately 27,000 men. Ninety-five percent of its original members had American-born parents, a rarity when compared to other U.S. divisions in World War I. Further, Old Hickory contained more North Carolinians, and its soldiers were awarded more Congressional Medals of Honor, than any other division.

In April 1918 the Old Hickory Division prepared for transfer to Europe. On arrival in France, the Fifty-fifth Field Artillery Brigade, including the 113th Artillery Regiment, was detached and assigned to the American Expeditionary Force. The rest of the division went with the American Second Corps, attached to the British Army in northern France. In July 1918 Old Hickory joined the British Second Army in Belgium, where it received additional training for combat. On 16 August the division was sent to the trenches in the canal sector between Ypres and Voormezeele in anticipation of the British Ypres-Lys offensive. On 1 September, following a British artillery barrage, both regiments advanced. During the next two days of fighting, they captured all of their objectives, including Lock No. 8 on the Ypres Canal, Lankhof Farm, and the village of Voormezeele. The North Carolinians in the two regiments inflicted about 300 enemy casualties in the 1,500-yard advance, with a loss of 37 dead and 128 wounded.

On 20 Sept. 1918 the American Second Corps (composed of the Twenty-seventh and Thirtieth Divisions) was transferred to the British Fourth Army, and by 25 September the U.S. divisions were in position opposite the Hindenburg Line's St. Quentin trench complex in preparation for a massive assault on the German lines. Under cover of darkness, U.S. divisions captured the German outpost line, and the British bombarded the enemy with artillery fire for two days. North Carolinians ventured into no-man's-land to run barbed wire and to prepare paths through the wire for the attacking infantry. At 5:50 a.m. on 29 September, the corps attacked. Due to high casualties, barbed wire entanglements, and smoke from shellfire, the advancing lines lost all sense of organization. Despite the confusion and losses, the North Carolinians of Old Hickory broke through the Hindenburg Line by 7:30 a.m. Nauroy, the objective of the attack, was won by midday. The next day, 30 September, the Americans were pulled out of battle and sent to the rear. Old Hickory's attack was a huge success, and the division was later credited as the first to break the Hindenburg Line. The Thirtieth suffered approximately 3,000 casualties, many of them North Carolinians.

On the night of 5 October, infantry regiments went back into the line. In the first two days of fighting, Old Hickory advanced more than six miles, often leaving behind the British troops on both flanks. The enemy at Vaux-Andigny, near the La Selle River, stopped this advance. In the five days of combat, the Thirtieth Division lost another 1,108 men. From July to October the division's casualties were 1,641 killed or dead from wounds, 6,774 wounded, 198 missing, and 27 taken prisoner-for a total of 8,415 losses.

For the remainder of October and until the armistice on 11 Nov. 1918, Old Hickory was not engaged. In March 1919 the division sailed homeward from St. Nazaire. After the units took part in parades throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, the men were discharged. Demobilization was completed by the end of April 1919.


Sam J. Royall, History of the 118th Infantry, American Expeditionary Force, France (1919).

John O. Walker, Official History of the 120th Infantry, "3rd North Carolina," 30th Division, from August 5, 1917, to April 17, 1919 (1919).

Additional Resources:

"30th Division: 'Old Hickory'." The Old North State and 'Kaiser Bill': North Carolinians in World War I. State Archives of North Carolina.  (accessed November 1, 2013).

NC Historic Sites, State Capitol, NC Historical Highway Marker Dedicated to Old Hickory Division:

History of the 105th Regiment of Engineers divisional engineers of the "Old Hickory" (30th) Division. 1919. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Digital Collections.

Operations, Thirtieth Division, Old Hickory : Belgium, Ypres-Voormezeele, the Hindenburg line, Bellicourt, Nauroy-Premont-Brancourt, Busigny-Escaufourt-Vaux-Andigny, by United States. Army. Infantry Division, 30th. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Digital Collections.

Search results for North Carolina in World War I in North Carolina Digital Collections (several portraits of men from the 30th  Division).



I am trying to get information on my Grandfather's service in the 30th. What I know is his name was James M Northcross, He was a WW1 veteran and had been in the National Guard for a number of years prior to WW1 in California as he was one of the troops sent to San Francisco to enforce martial law after the 1906 earthquake. He was living outside of Memphis at the time of mobilization and had to get a waiver because of his age, was he was 39 at the time we got into the war. He was a Master Sargent at the end of the war, but I think this was a bereaved rank. Can you steer me in the right direction to find his service record??


Dear William,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia. I am going to send you an email with more information.

Francesca Evans, Government & Heritage Library


My father, William Brown Terrell, served with the Old Hickory Division during 1918 in France and Belgium. I have artifacts from that time, including his helmet, leggings. tunic, and field glasses that he used as a Forward Observer on a bicycle. I also have numerous canvas maps, and a diary that Dad kept from his enlistment to his discharge in 1919. Please advise me about ways to preserve these items children, and also about possible museums for donation.


Hello Charles,

I suggest contacting the North Carolina Museum of History as they may have suggestions for how to preserve what you have as well as be interested in donations. Their website is at

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library


Thank you Erin for this helpful information. I have spent some time looking at the NC Museum of History website, and it is fascinating. It contains much material related to World War I artifacts and preservation.
I will plan to go there and explore in person.
Thanks again,
Charlie Terrell


You are very welcome!

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library


My name is Karin Johnsson. I'm working on a college history project on my great-grandfather, John D. Rill who was a member of the 120th division, company H. I was wondering if a list of the members of his specific company exists or more of their actions outside of the battle at Kalrath in February of 1945. Thanks.


Please inform Me. Marshall that the 30th Division had the second most Medals of Honor (they are not properly referred to as "Congressional" when describing the medals) of any US Division. The 30th had 12 while the 2nd had 15 (not counting Marine awards twice, since Marines of the 2nd each received both the Army and Navy medals).


Dear Mr. Davenport,

Thank you for your email. I can't be certain that you are correct, but here is a link for you and others to review:

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to share other authoritative lists or articles on this topic.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


My grandfather Clp. Andy Nomland from N.D. fought with the 30th,had three battle stars, was gassed with mustard gas but survived the war. A quiet man who was changed forever by the war. I asked him once what it was like and his response was sobering. He stated that two of the things that bothered him were rats as big as cats and the stench. I can't even imagine. Any info you may have in your archives would be great.

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