According to the Department of the Army, the 115th Infantry originates from the 1st Battalion of Infantry, Maryland National Guard, which was first organized in western Maryland in 1881. Several past and present members of the regiment, however, firmly believe that the 115th’s origins date to 1775, when Michael Cresap responded to the Continental Congress’s call for troops in the aftermath of Lexington and Concord by organizing an independent company of riflemen in Frederick County. “Cresap’s Rifles”, as the unit was known, joined George Washington’s Continental Army near Boston by making a remarkable 550-mile march in only 22 days.During the Civil War, Cresap’s legacy was perpetuated by many western Marylanders, who responded to Abraham Lincoln’s call for federal volunteers by joining Colonel John R. Kenly’s 1st Maryland Volunteer Infantry, U.S. Army. At the Battle of Front Royal in May, 1862, the 1st Maryland engaged vastly superior Rebel forces – including the 1st Maryland C.S.A – and was virtually destroyed after a heroic stand. The 115th Infantry’s current motto, “Rally Round The Flag,” originated at that engagement.
In 1886 the 1st Infantry Battalion, a recently formed Maryland National Guard unit, expanded into the 1st Regiment of Infantry by consolidating with independent companies in Elkon, Catonsville, Annapolis, Waverly, Towson, and Baltimore.
In 1882, after several Eastern Shore companies joined the 1st Maryland, the regiment’s recruitment area encompassed virtually the entire state of Maryland except for Baltimore City.
The 1st Maryland was federalized in 1917 and attached to the newly established 29th “Blue and Gray” Division. At Camp McClellan, Alabama the 1st was consolidated with the 4th and 5th Maryland Regiments to form the 115th Infantry. In October 1918, the 115th participated in the massive Meuse-Argonne offensive. Indeed, two of its members were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic deeds in that battle. The regiment returned home in June 1919, after 21 months of mobilization.
The 1st Maryland was reorganized between 1919 and 1923, with headquarters in Frederick, Maryland.
In February 1941, the entire National Guard was called up into Federal Service and the 115th, as part of the 29th Division.
On D-Day, June 6 1944, the 115th was part of the second wave of the assault force that landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy. The entire regiment was awarded gained a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation, embroidered “St. Laurent-sur-Mer” for its gallant actions on that historic day.
The 115th experienced slow progress and numerous casualties fighting its way across the bocage of the Normandy toward its ultimate goal, St. Lo. During the final move on St. Lo from the 11th through the 22nd of July, the regiment lost 175 KIA and 726 WIA. In late August, the 115th moved with the rest of the 29th Infantry to assist in the siege of Brest. The city surrendered on the 18th of September and the regiment then moved to Maastricht, Holland and then assisted in the campaigns in Germany. The strength of the regiment was 3327 on June 6th and it suffered nearly 5,800 casualties between D-Day and December 31st of 1944.
Subsequently the 1st Battalion, 115th Infantry was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star for repulsing a determined German counterattack outside St. Lo on 11 July 1944.
The first parts of the division set sail for home in December 1945 and the 115th, for the most part, was released from active duty on the 17th of January 1946.
The 115th was called up on two occasions during the Civil Rights Movement, once in Cambridge, MD in 1963 and again in Baltimore in 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The regiment was briefly part of the Pennsylvania National Guard in the 1960’s but reverted back to Maryland control in 1976 as part of the 58th Separate Infantry Brigade.
In 1984, upon reactivation of the 29th Division, the 115th became part of the 3rd Brigade. At that time, the 115th consisted of 2 battalions, the 1st Battalion consisting of troops from Western Maryland to the Baltimore and DC suburbs, and the 2nd Battalion consisting of mostly Eastern Shore troops.
In the 2000’s, the 115th was folded into the 175th Infantry and deactivated as an independent regiment.
1. Balkoski, Joseph. The Maryland National Guard: A History of Maryland’s Military Forces, 1634-1991. Baltimore, MD: Guard, 1991. Print.
2. Snyder, Ernie. “A Brief History of the 115th Infantry Regiment (First Maryland).” Letter to David Ginsburg. 28 Jan. 2014. MS. N.p.
3. Ewing, Joseph H. 29 Let’s Go!: A History of the 29th Infantry Division in World War II. Nashville, Tn.: Battery, 1979. Print.