Of all the units I served in during my hitch, the one I spent the most time with, and consequently have the best memories of, was 2nd Battalion of the 7th Infantry Regiment. I know a lot of Army units simply post the honors at headquarters, and just leave it at that. Perhaps the only around promotion board time does anyone worry about unit history. Not with the 7th.
From day one, even as a battalion communications officer, I was told to learn the symbolism in the unit crest. It recalls the war of 1812 – bayonets over a cotton bale. This recalls the unit’s formation in 1812, recruited in what was at that time the “western” United States of Tennessee and Georgia. The bayonets are socket-type used on the issue musket of the time. The cotton alludes to the defense line held at the Battle of New Orleans, where the regiment fought behind the bales.
The coat of arms offers more symbolism.
In addition to the cotton bale and crossed bayonets a white and blue cord incorporate the two colors used to designate the infantry.
The red cannon and green hill recall the guns the battle of Cerro Gordo in the Mexican War. After one Captain Robert E. Lee found a route around the Mexican defenses, regiment participated in an assault on Telegraph Hill, “finished the conquest with the bayonet,” and captured the cannons in place there. Red, white, and green colors in that field are a nod to the Mexican national flag. Although the gun was “updated” to a French 75 from World War I at some point!
The brick wall is for the wall on Marye’s Heights, a Confederate defense led by General Robert E. Lee at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Regiment was part of a series of assaults on that position in December 1862 during the American Civil War. The 7th went to ground in front of the wall and held for twelve hours before finally able to retire.
Finally, at the bottom of the coat of arms is the distinctive symbol of the 3rd Infantry Division in which the regiment served during two world wars (and two battalions continue to serve in today).
The 7th has participated in all American wars since its creation. And with great distinction. The regiment “ranks first on the order of merit list in terms of date constituted, number of campaigns in which it participated, and awards and decorations received,” according to the regimental association. A plug for my “Civil War” side, you run into markers or monuments to the regiment on past battlefields such as at Gettysburg.
Now about that Johnie Horton song….
… what I don’t remember fondly is singing Johnny Horton’s song in cadence on battalion runs!