Monday, May 21, 2012

90th Infantry Division in World War I - Military Monday

The following is the first in a series of posts about the history of the 90th Infantry Division and its legacy units.

The 90th Infantry Division began it's nearly 100-year history on August 25, 1917 when it was officially organized at Camp Travis, Texas. Camp Travis was a training cantonment in San Antonio, Texas, adjacent to Fort Sam Houston. The first troops of the 90th were Texas and Oklahoma natives called to training following the first draft call for World War I. The Division Command tried as best as possible to follow geographical lines in assigning Soldiers to the regiments and brigades. The 179th Brigade was designated the Oklahoma brigade, with the 357th Infantry regiment filled with Soldiers from western Oklahoma and the 358th Infantry Regiment with eastern Oklahomans. The 180th Infantry Brigade became the Texas brigade with northern and western Texans assigned to the 359th Regiment and Southern and Eastern Texans the 360th. Soldiers with previous relevant experience filled specialized units such as field artillery, engineers and field signal battalions.
A 90th Division patch as shown on a WWI uniform.
The Division's patch features a "T" and an "O", reflecting the origins of it's first Soldiers: Texas and Oklahoma. Due to the courage displayed during many battles, along with the origin of its Soldiers, the TO came to be known as Tough 'Ombres, a nickname that continues to be attached to the unit.

While at Camp Travis the Soldiers participated in a myriad of training designed to prepare them for what they would find in France. This included intensive trench warfare training among a system of trenches built by engineers just east of Salado Creek, weapons familiarization, gas defense, sanitation and a study of the French language.
"View of Camp Travis looking toward Division Headquarters. Tents in foreground are part of the old Camp Wilson, a National Guard mobilization camp." Photo taken from A History of the 90th Division by Major George Wythe.
Following extensive training the Division felt prepared for movement overseas. But in early January 1918 the Division was stripped of its personnel to fill up other regular and National Guard divisions. Men with special skills such as mechanics, carpenters and engineers were sent directly to the port of embarkation to immediately fill necessary slots overseas.

The depleted slots began to be filled again in April and by May 1918 the Division was once again to near full strength. This quick fulfillment of brand new Soldiers meant more training and at a faster pace. On June 5, 1918, the 90th Division sent it's first units to Europe.

For more information on the Tough 'Ombres and the 90th Infantry Division visit the 90th Division Association website.


Pappy said...

Thanks for you stories and info on the Tough 'Ombres. My father was in that outfit during WW I.

Gerald Ramsey said...

Thank you for the uncle, Robert Stephen Ramsey, from eastern Oklahoma was KIA on October 22, 1918 in France. I am still trying to get more information and possible pictures of the soldiers. I'm not sure if any were taken, but one thing is for sure, I was proud of his service to our country.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Gerald- Thank you for the kind comment. Check out this post:

It may give you some leads to finding out more about your uncle. Good luck!