Cottonbalers, By God!

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.

7th Infantry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
7th Infantry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia

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.

7th Infantry Regiment Coat of Arms

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.

7th Infantry 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!


– Craig.

19 thoughts on “Cottonbalers, By God!”

  1. “… what I don’t remember fondly is singing Johnny Horton’s song in cadence on battalion runs!”

    Whiny baby!

  2. Having worked with 2-7 IN extensively from 2006-2010 (same BCT), and both 2-7 and 3-7 IN from 1995-1998, the only proper response to “Cottonbalers, by God!” is “Damn fine Soldiers.”

  3. I forget which battalion it was, but the 1st AD in Desert Storm borrowed a brigade from 3rd ID, one battalion of which was 7th IN. Good troops.

    1. North to Alaska is great. My older daughter used to be confused by the lyrics when I played Johnny Horton’s greatest hits. She thought he sang “the Russian zone” instead of “the rush is on.”

    1. “Willing and Able.”

      When I was with 2-7 the response to salutes was “willing and able” instead of “Damn fine soldiers.” Our battalion radio call sign preface was “ABLE” while 3-7 used “BALER.”

  4. Craig,
    Yeah, I was in “Speed and Power” 3-69 right next door. I did Vigilant Warrior where Honore took over the brigade during a mounted change of command, all the way through till he left and Brandenburg took over. Left for advanced course in ’98.

    1. I remember VW well. And that mounted change of command.

      As for you XBrad, I’ll ask Liberty 6 to show up at your place for some “corrective training.”

  5. I used to live a half mile from the Chalmette Battlefield. I rememer quite clearly when that song came out, as it was played on the radio a lot, and a lot of kids in New Orleans knew the song word for word 🙂 And my ancestors were on the line as well with the “Balers”. They just didn’t have fancy uniforms or speak good English.

  6. Ahhhh, yes…The Cottonbalers.

    I was at FT Stewart in the old 24th ID when the 2/21 IN (GIMLETS!) and 2/34 IN (Leyte Dragons) redesignated to 2/7 IN and 3/7 IN. They were in 1st Brigade. At the time I was the S4 for 3rd/19th Infaatry (Rock of Chickamauga) in 2d Brigade. We bemoaned the loss of the 21st and the 34th Lineage and Honors from the Army division that had fought the longest and hardest of any Army division in the Pacific War….from Pearl Harbor through New Guniea to the Phillipines and Surrender. Also, despite the stain of TF Smith, the 21st Infantry and the rest of the division went on to fight very well during the Korean War.

    Of course, that didn’t stop us from calling them The Q-Tips when we met our fellow officers at the O Club on Friday evenings!

    Lineage note: One of the downsides to the drawdown of forces ion the 1990s is we lost a lot of lineage and honors of the the units which fought in the Pacific. The 24th ID became the 3rd ID..the 19th became the 15th and our Army is left with 1 division, the 25th ID, with primary lineage and honors intact from the Pacific…and none for the hard slog through the Solomons and New Guinea. The NG still has it but it is kind of sad we institutionally turned our back on such a huge piece of our history.

  7. Once a Cottonbaler….Always a Cottonbaler

    “Cottonbalers By God”

    Doc Carr B Co Medic 2001-2004

    1. “Damn Fine Soldiers”
      Damn right Doc Carr, and everyone was glad to have you with us.
      B CO 2-7Inf 2000-2003

  8. I remember my days at 1/7th in Aschaffenburg and the way we trained with knowledge knowing we were in the most decorated unit from history, We were all proud to be Cottonbalers. We will always be cottonbalers at heart and glad to of served under such a historic flag. Born in the backwoods, raised by a bear, double boned jaw and two coats of hair, cast iron balls and a blue steal rod, I am a damn fine soldier, cottonbaler by God.

  9. I was in Aschaffenburg at Graves Kasserne from may 73 till sept 74,recently I went online to see if there was any pictures or info of graves kasserne and to my supprise it is no longer there,closed ,leveled and rebuilt as residential housing.
    I was with the (new at the time) combat support company and was with the fourth plattoon using 4.2″ mortar tracked apc’s “nothin’ like supervising teenagers who use HE”or getting my smokes for 28 cents a pack ah,the good ol’ days.I was at camp Hovey in south korea too and same thing there,there was’nt one building that I recognised,all redone moved,consolidated all that I remained were the streets and bridges that stayed the same.

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