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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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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.

References:

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. https://wayback.archive-it.org/194/20160727173258/http://exhibits.archives.ncdcr.gov/wwi/OldNorthState/30thdivision.htm  (accessed November 1, 2013).

NC Historic Sites, State Capitol, NC Historical Highway Marker Dedicated to Old Hickory Division: http://www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol/stat_cap/tour.htm

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).

Comments

Comment: 

I have a written record in the family Bible detailing my grandfather's service in WWI in Old Hickory, 5th Pioneers Infantry. It lists Hindenberg and several other battles. Unfortunately, the spelling wasn't great and it shows his battles in October and November 1917, with a discharge in May 2018. Are those years wrong by one year? I only see Hindenberg as 2018. I have his serial number. Is there a good way to find out from other documents where he was and which battles he fought?
Thank you for all that you've done to put this together!

Comment: 

Hello, 

You may be correct abotu the dates being somewhat off. Here is an additional link about the Hindenburg Line at https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/allied-forces-break-through-...

Fold3.com is an excellent source for all things military through the WWII. It is a subscription site and many libraries offer remote access with a library card. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Comment: 

I am looking for an old photograph that was taken in 1950 of the Roanoke Rapids, NC National Guard 119 th division They were at Fort Jackson, S.C. for training and a picture of them was taken as a group. We had a picture, but it got destroyed . Where would I go to find another picture.

Comment: 

Hi Loretta!

Thank you for your comment! That is an excellent question! Unfortunately, we do not have photograph collections at our library, only photos that may be found in the books we have in our collection. Our library's catalog can be searched here: https://ghl.nccardinal.org/eg/opac/home. Published histories of the division might have old photos in them. 

You may want to try contacting the State Archives of North Carolina as they do have photograph collections. You can reach them through their contact form here: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/services/ordering-copies.

You might also want to want to look through the image collections on DigitalNC: https://www.digitalnc.org/collections/images/

I hope this helps and that you find the photo! Please let us know if you have any further questions. Best wishes!

Taylor Thompson, Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I remember my grandfather talking about Old Hickory when I was young, and wish I had asked him more questions and wrote it down ! He was James Keith (Jimmy) Sugg. From Asheville N C ; He died in 1966. If anyone has ANY information or pictures I would love to see it!

Thank You!

Comment: 

You may want to look through our digital collection for WWII at https://digital.ncdcr.gov/digital/custom/wwii

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Comment: 

My Grandfather was with old Hickory in WWII. He used to have a map showing where they fought. My family cannot find the map anymore since his death. Where would I find a map with the battles they were apart of in WWII?

Comment: 

There is a digital collection of what the State Archives of North Carolina has for WWII that includes maps. You may be able to find it there. https://digital.ncdcr.gov/digital/custom/wwii

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Comment: 

I am trying to find more info on my great uncle who was killed in France while with the 30th. His name was Pvt. Dock David Williams.

Comment: 

Hello,

There are several potential locations where you might find information. First is the State Archives of North Carolina. They have limited records for WWI and WWII, but you can see their finding aids for WWI at https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/finding-aids/military-finding-aid.... The National Archives also has records. Some of those reecords at the National Archives can be found online through subscription sites like fold3.com and ancestry.com.

Hopee this helps!

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

.

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