Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

The History of the 43rd Artillery, C.A.C., During WWI


At the Front With the 43rd Artillery

The 43rd Artillery, C.A.C., had its inception as a full-fledged regiment of heavy artillery at Haussimont, Marne, near Chalons. It was here that the three Battalions assembled in August of 1918, and the Regiment was formed. The First Battalion consisted of Batteries C and D of the 57th Artillery, the Second Battalion of Batteries C and D of the 51st Artillery, and the Third Battalion of Batteries E and H of the 51st Artillery, the entire organization being under command of Colonel Harrison S. Kerrick.

At Haussimont the First and Third Battalions received their guns, 19 G's. It is interesting to note with what antique material some of our own Artillery regiments as well as the French artillery fought. These Guns are cast iron of the models of 1875 and 1876 and were taken from the Coast Defenses of Corsica and other Mediterranean Coast Defenses and were mounted on railroad Carriages of the model of 1916-17. These Guns are unique in that vague have a counter recoil system consisting of solid rubber bands, about the thickness of one's fingers, which stretch in recoil and carry the gun back into battery after firing. Thence sprung the name "Boston Garter Artillery" which was given the organization by the enlisted personnel. After a week of intensive training on the guns which were sorely needed as neither officers nor men had seen this type before, the First and Third Battalions moved out; the Second Battalion remaining at Haussimont and as it had not received its guns.

The quarters of one of the 43d's Medical Officers, Captain H. A. Felt, before Fritz visited them.

And...

Captain Felt's quarters after Fritz paid his respects.
The Captain was out.

The First Battalion

The First Battalion, under command of Major John H. Pirie, since promoted to Lt. Colonel, was assigned a position at Grimaucourt in the Department of the Meuse where firing was opened on the city of St.-Mihiel. After the St.-Mihiel drive Major Pirie moved his Battalion to a position at Aubreville from which it fired during the allied attack of September 26th through October 2, 1918, which was the beginning of the real Argonne offensive. The Battalion next moves to Charny and from there to Cumiere. At Cumiere Major Pirie was taken ill and was relieved by Major John B. Wogan, who soon after word was assigned to staff duty. Major A. C. Sullivan, who relieved him, commanded the battalion during the action at Cumiere and until the Armistice was signed.

At Cumiere on October 26th while Battery B was getting ready to fire a shell fell immediately to the rear of number one gun hitting the railroad; the gun crew, however continued their preparation for firing and two minutes later reported "Number one gun ready to fire." this gun section, which was commanded by Sergeant Fred Williams, received a letter of commendation from the Grouping Commander, Colonel John P. Spurr, as over 200 shells fell in the immediate vicinity of this Battery before the engagement was ended.

Another incident, which occurred in Battery B at Cumiere, illustrates the excellent morale and discipline among the men. The position, which the Battery occupied, was an exposed one, and one day it so happened that the Battery was heavily shelled by German guns of heavy caliber just at mess time. Despite this fact the men lined up in the open for their noonday meal. Some of the shell fragments landed in the pan of corned beef hash and were removed by the cook with various and sundry appropriate remarks pertaining to the antecedents and lineage of the Huns. The men showed their utter disdain for the Boche salvos by lining up for "Seconds."

It also happened during a shelling at Cumiere that one of the cooks was asleep in a pup tent on a little slope near the Battery when a 210 mm shell came along and exploded about one-half meter from the tent blowing both cook and the tent about 20 feet into the air. We picked him up and found that he had no other injury than a bad case of shell shock. During this day of shelling 263 shells fell on Battery B alone, half of them being duds.

Jacking up a 19-G
A 19-G in position. Projectile on the tray, ready for "Home Ram!"
Loaded and laid. Inserting the primer. Nearly ready to fire.

The Second Battalion

Although the second Battalion did not reach the Front as a part of the 43rd Artillery it had already seen considerable service in the 51st Artillery. It's batteries, C and D, were part of the original 6th provisional Regiment, C.A.C., which left the United States for France on August 14th, 1917, under command of Colonel William Chamberlaine, arriving in Liverpool, England, on September 2nd, 1917, and in France on September 15th, 1917. Two of the batteries of the 6th Provisional Regiment became Batteries C and D of the 51st Artillery with which they served until the 43rd was formed at Haussimont when they became Battery C and D of that organization. The second Battalion completed its period of training and received its guns, but the Armistice was signed before it got into action.

The Third Battalion

The Third Battalion was formed at Haussimont on August 10th, 1918 under command of Major Edward P. Noyes. It's two Batteries, E and F, was also part of the 6th Provisional Regiment, C.A.C., and saw service at the Front as Batteries E and H of the 51st Artillery.

Major Noyes took the third Battalion into a position at Tilly sur Meuse on September 7th 1918 in time for the big St.-Mihiel drive. The batteries opened fire on the morning of September 13th on some German strong points and dugouts about 12,000 meters away. Later, when the Germans retired, the officers of the Battalion examined these targets and found that they had been completely demolished. From here the Battalion moved into positions at Recicourt, near the Argonne Forest, and began firing in the Argonne drive on September 26, 1918. Here it engaged in a number of Counter-Battery duels with Boche "Heavies".

The guns were next taken to the garage at Dieu sur Meuse where the men constructed a railway from Charny to Regneville, Meuse, for the purpose of putting these guns into position at Regneville. The hasty departure from the garage at Dieu sur Meuse became necessary due to the fact that the Boche long-range 6's, which have a range of about 18 km, found the position and began firing. With all possible speed the guns were pulled out of the garage and moved up to newly constructed railway tracks to the positions to be occupied at Regneville, arriving in time for the Meuse offensive. The targets assigned were German batteries in the Bois de Sartelle, cross roads, trenches, and machine-gun emplacements. In this position there were nineteen 19 G's located along a stretch of railway tracks less than a kilometer long. It is interesting to note that in one night the Battalion fired 800 rounds, Battery be alone firing 504 rounds. The Armistice found a Battalion still firing in this position. During the course of its action the third Battalion served with a number of different groupings, including Groups McMillan, Moore, Spurr, Rose and Dwyer, which consisted of railway guns of all calibers, - 19 G's, 32's, 285's, 305's, French; 340's, and 400's, American, and 14-inch United States Naval Rifles. The French and American groups and batteries were interwoven without regard for the intactness of any particular organization; whenever a gun of any type or caliber was needed to occupy a certain position the nearest one available was simply ordered to take up the required place. The Battalion was relieved from the First Army on November 20th, 1918 arriving at Haussimont on November 22nd, and embarking at St. Nazairre on the 10th of December, and arriving at Newport News, Va. on December 21, 1918.

Battle participation of the 43d Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps:

Toul sector, France, 22 April-12 Aug. 1918 2d Battalion, 22 April-12 August 1918
3d Battalion (Battery F), 25 May-12 August 1918
St.-Mihiel offensive, France 3d Battalion (Battery E), 12 September-16 September 1918
Meuse-Argonne offensive, France 1st Battalion, 26 September-11 November 1918
3d Battalion, 26 Septcmbcr-11 November 1918

The living Train of one battery of the 43rd Artillery.
A 19-G on the move.
A camouflaged gun position.
A 19-G with a camouflage net to hide the gun from the Germans.
A 19-G set up in a pit ready to hurl some hot iron at Fritz.
A 43rd Officer's Dugout.

Battery B, 43rd Artillery

John B. Morris, Battery B, 43rd Artillery

Karen Morris Groce contacted me about her grandfather who was in Battery B, 43rd Artillery. She writes:

My Grandfather, John B. MORRIS, was part of Battery B, 43rd Artillery C.A.C. stationed at Camp Eustis, VA. He was born 27 January 1900 in Logan County, Arkansas to William Chesley and Laura (Keener) MORRIS. He was only about 17 when he entered service (just as my father was in WWII), and was just a poor country boy from the hills of Arkansas. After the war he worked as a farmer for many years, through the Depression, and later became a printer at the local newspaper in Danville, Yell Co., Arkansas. He married Frances Elizabeth BULLOCK in 1924, and had nine children, one of whom was my father, Clyde Norman MORRIS. John died 2 March 1982 in Yell Co., Arkansas at the age of 82. He was a wonderful man.

This photo was taken at Camp Eustis, VA. The three men are standing on a Railway Artillery gun. John Morris is at top left in the picture.
My Grandfather, John B. MORRIS, is on the right in the pic. I have no idea who the other gentlemen are, just as the ones in the previous pic are unknown to me. Don't they look like they're not old enough to shave yet?

Karen Groce, granddaughter of John Morris.

Cpl. Cassevant of Battery E, 43rd Artillery

In June of 2002 I was contacted by Tim Lewis about his great-grandfather Albert G. Cassevant. Tim had told me that his great-grandfather was in the Coast Artillery Corps before the war and then had died of the flu epidemic at Camp Eustis, VA, in 1919 after coming home from the war in France. Tim was searching for additional facts about his great-grandfather and did know some facts about him on which he could build upon. This is what he did know:

"The only things I have are his discharge documents, a promotion document, a letter from the Treasury Dept. to his wife stating that she was the beneficiary for $10,000 from the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, and a letter of condolence from his commander to his wife. I also have his Victory Medal with a bar for St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive Sector. Attached to the medal is a smaller medal for Verdun (given by the French I think), which says, "they shall not pass" in French. It has a woman's head on one side and a castle on the other. I can follow his units from the notes on the discharge documents fairly easily up until 1915 or so. I am not sure what happens during his time in France. Here's the chronology as I can tell from the documents I have. I think most of his time was at Fort McKinley and Fort Preble, Maine. Now that I look at it, I am not sure he was in the 51st Artillery. I gathered he was since I found on your site that Battery "E" was made up of men from Fort Preble but the promotion you'll see listed below makes me wonder."

Albert G. Cassevant born in New Market, NH 1882
Enlisted in 1901 - 120th (torpedo) Co. C.A.C.
Re-enlisted 1905 - 24th Co. C.A.C.
Re-enlisted 1908 - 24th Co. C.A.C.
Re-enlisted 1909 - 24th Co. C.A.C.
Re-enlisted 1912 - 24th Co. C.A.C.
Re-enlisted 1915 - ?
Promoted to Corporal, Battery "A" 54th Artillery C.A.C. 2/23/1918 Fort Williams, Maine. Died March 5, 1919 - Battery "E" 43rd Artillery C.A.C. Camp Eustis VA. He was listed as a mechanic, musician, barber, bugler, and a 1st class gunner, character "excellent"


I did some research from a list of Troops that I have into what Tim had given me as fact on his great-grandfather and found that Ft. Preble and Ft. McKinley were in the Coast Defenses of Portland, Maine. Being that he was listed as a member of Battery A, 54th Artillery, C.A.C. and that Regiment was made up from men from the Coast Defenses of Portland seems to fit.

I next did some research into the 24th Co. C.A.C. and found three different 24th Companies mentioned within the C. D. of Portland. At Ft. Preble, ME there was the 2nd Company originally organized in 1899 and in April of 1917 was organized from the 24th Company C.A.C. No other notations about this 24th Co. were found.

Also at Ft. Preble, ME. There was the 24th Co. (I) with a notation that this unit was converted into the 7th Co. at Ft. McKinley, ME within the C.D. of Portland. The notation of (I) shows that this was a different unit at Ft. McKinley as there was a second unit there also named the 24th Co. (II) from March 1918 until December 1918. It does not appear that this 24th Co. (II) ever went overseas and was stationed at Ft. McKinley.

The 24th Co. (I) that was transferred to the 7th Co., Ft. McKinley in August of 1917 was re-designated as Battery E, 54th Artillery, C.A.C. in December of 1917. The entire 54th Regiment sailed to France in March of 1918. TimÕs great-grandfather was promoted to Corporal on February 23rd, 1918 as a member of Battery A, 54th Artillery and was stationed at Ft. Williams, ME in the C.D. of Portland.

The question of how Cpl. Cassevant (TimÕs great-grandfather), came to be in Battery E, 43rd Artillery could be answered in this way. I believe that Cpl. Cassevant was at Ft. Preble, ME in the 24th Co. (I) that was transformed into the 7th Co. at Ft. McKinley, ME that was re-designated as Battery E, 54th Artillery in December of 1917. It is fact that Cpl. Cassevant was promoted to the rank of Corporal on February 23, 1918 in Battery A, 54th Artillery at Ft. Williams, ME. It is possible that he was transferred from Battery E, 54th Artillery, to Battery A, 54th Artillery at that time.

While a member of the 54th Artillery Cpl. Cassevant sailed with the Regiment to France in March of 1918. After the Regiment was in France they were used as an Artillery Replacement Battalion. What that means is this unit was composed with men already trained for the heavy Artillery regiments and as Regiments at the Front needed replacements they were drawn from the 54th Artillery. I believe that this is how Cpl. Cassevant came to be in Battery E, 43rd Artillery.

Tim stated that he had his great-grandfathers WWI Victory medal and that it had a bar for St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive Sector on it. It is fact that the 43rd Artillery did participate in the St.-Mihiel Operation as Army Artillery for the American 1st Army from August 30th - Sept. 16th, 1918. And it is also fact that the 43rd Artillery was with the 1st Army during the Meuse-Argonne Operations September 26th-November 11th, 1918. These facts support that he was in the 43rd Artillery.

The 43rd Artillery was returned to the States on December 20, 1918 aboard the USS Princess Matoika, and was stationed at Camp Eustis, VA. Cpl. Cassevant died on March 5th, 1919 of the flu at Camp Eustis, VA were the 43rd Artillery was stationed.


Below are some facts on three of the Forts in the Coast Defenses of Portland, Maine that Cpl. Cassevant was stationed at.

Fort McKinley, Maine

Permanent post, located on Great Diamond Island (formerly known as Hog Island), Portland Harbor, Cumberland County, Maine. Named in honor of William McKinley, twenty-fifth President of the United States. Acquired by purchase in 1873 with an area of about 111 acres. It is a station of the Coast Defenses of Portland, Maine, North Atlantic Coast Artillery District.

Troops
NONDIVISIONAL UNITS
Coast Artillery: 1st C. D. Co. Ft. Lyon; 1st, 2d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th (I), 10th (II), C. D. Cos. Ft. McKinley; l0th, 11th, 12th (I), 12th (II), 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th (I), 16th (II), 24th (I), 24th (II), 25th (I), 25th (II), 26th (I), 26th (II), 27th (I), 27th (II), 28th Companies, Coast Defenses of Portland.

Fort Williams, Maine

Permanent post, located at Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland County. Named in honor of Brig. Gen. Seth Williams, U. S. V. (Bvt. Maj. Gen. U. S. V.), a distinguished veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars. Acquired by purchase, 1872-73 with an area of about 90 acres. It is the Headquarters and station of the Coast Defenses of Portland, North Atlantic Coast Artillery District.

Troops
NONDIVISIONAL UNITS
Coast Artillery: 5th Anti Aircraft Battalion; 29th, 54th, 72d Artillery Regiments; 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th (Hq.), 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th Coast Defense Companies, Ft. Williams; 1st (I), 1st (II), 2d, 3d, 4th, 17th, 18th (I), 18th (II), 19th (I), 19th (II), 23d Companies, Coast Defenses of Portland.

Fort Preble, Maine

A permanent post located 3 miles southeast of Portland at Preble Point, Portland Harbor. Named in honor of Commodore Edward Preble, U. S. N., who commanded the American Naval forces in War with Tripoli in 1804. Acquired by purchase in 1808, it is a sub post of Fort Williams, with an area of about 80 acres.

Troops
NONDIVISIONAL UNITS
Coast Artillery: 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th Coast Defense Companies Ft. Preble: 6th, 7th, 8th (I), 8th (II), 20th (I), 20th (II), 21st Cos. C. D. Portland. U. S. Guards: Headquarters 27th Battalion.


Below are some photos of Cpl. Cassevant had. I think that he would have spent most of his time at Ft. Preble, ME and I'm assuming that these photos came from Ft. Preble. But they could also be Ft. McKinley or Ft. Williams, ME.
Above is a disappearing gun mount. Most likely a 12" gun.
Same gun as in the above photo.
A Pit Mortar looking at the breach.
12-inch Shells
Possibly the 24th Co. (I) at Ft. Preble, Maine
or the 7th Co. at Ft. McKinley, Maine
Possibly the 24th Co. (I) at Ft. Preble, Maine
or the 7th Co. at Ft. McKinley, Maine

© 2002-2014 Joe Hartwell. This Page was last updated on March 15, 2014

If you have research comments or additional information on this page e-mail them to: Joe Hartwell

[ Return to the Coast Artillery History Page ] [ Return to the Site Map ]