On May 28, 1918 the American 1st Division led an assault on the town of Cantigny, France, making it the first divisional attack by the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. On the nights of May 26 and 27, the 28th Infantry Regiment moved into the line with its reinforcements. They occupied newly dug positions, command posts, and mortar pits only 200 yards from Cantigny. An enemy trench raid attacked American lines northwest of Cantigny, but alert assault troops repulsed the attack. At 4:45 a.m. on May 28 all the artillery batteries fired a few timed rounds to confirm their targets. An hour later the bombardment began with heavy guns hitting German batteries with explosives and poison gas, while mortars and howitzers churned Cantigny with shells. American artillery concentrated on trenches and machine gun positions adjacent to Cantigny. By 6:45 a.m. the tanks had come up and the infantry followed them in three waves behind a rolling barrage. They encountered little resistance. The engineer and flamethrower teams prompted many Germans to surrender their shelters in the town, and signals’ men established communications almost immediately. The flanking battalions and part of the center battalion moved around the town and took up defensive positions. The Allies had taken Cantigny. The AEF’s 1st Division had shown that American troops could perform effectively in larger coordinated operations with other Allied armies, and that large American units could defend against determined enemy attacks. Though relatively small, the successful attack on Cantigny added a spirit of self-confidence to American forces.

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