1st Battalion - 102nd Infantry Regiment
The mission of the 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, is to mobilize on short notice, conduct post-mobilization training, and deploy to any battlefield, fight to win while protecting the force, and conduct Operations Other Than War, including state missions.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry Regiment traces it's roots back to 1639 when the New Haven Plantation of the British Empire published and order of it's general court establishing an armed watch to guard against attack by "savages, pirates, or other hostile forces".
Members of this "trained band of Militia" took part in the great swamp fight and other small skirmishes during the "King Philip's" War, names after the Indian sachem Philip, who led the Indians of Connecticut and Rode Island in a general war to drive the settlers from their home lands in 1675. In 1672, the trained bands in the New Haven area were formed into the Regiment of New Haven County. The Regiment was further reorganized in 1739 as the Second Regiment of Colonial Militia.
During the Revolutionary War, one of the first militia units to respond to the call form help from the Massachusetts Colony was the New Haven Militia led by Captain Benedict Arnold (He later became a Traitor). The militia fought in many major campaigns throughout the war.
During the War of 1812 with the British raiding along our coastlines, it was decided in New Haven to form a second company of Light Infantry to protect New Haven. On September 13, 1816 the New Haven Grays were formed from members of the New Haven Militia and new recruits. They elected Shapos Staples to be their commander. The Grays were used as a defense force for New Haven and were called out during times of unrest in the city. In one incident, a young woman form West Haven, died and was buried, the following day it was discovered that her body was taken by some medical students at Yale Medical School for research. Armed with a small cannon and muskets, the outraged citizens marched on Yale, the mayor called out the Grays who quickly took control of the situation. The body was returned and peace was restored. Another incident occurred with the citizens of Fair Haven, a small fishing community in New Haven, the "Yalies" were chasing after the young women of Fair Haven, and the village fathers demanded it stopped, at a meeting it was decided to take steps to stop the "Yalies." Again armed with a small cannon and muskets they marched on Yale. The Grays were again called upon and peace and quiet were soon restored.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Grays enlisted for a 90 day period of service as part of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry. They took part in the first major engagement of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run. It was this battle, which was a victory for the Confederate Forces, which the Grays saved the day for the union. Union Forces broke and ran, throwing down their weapons and fleeing in panic, while being attacked by the Confederates leaving the road to Washington, DC open to the enemy. However, the Grays led by CPT Alfred H. Terry held, and withdrew in an orderly fashion using covered fire to "Leap Frog" back, which cause the Confederate Leader, to think he was facing a superior well-trained force, to call off his attack. The unit took part in 19 battles during the Civil War, and at Gettysburg several monuments stand today in honor of those men and their deeds.
The next federal service took the unit to the Mexican Border at Nogales, New Mexico. It was called up on 26 June 1916 and was mustered out 8 November 1916.
The unit was called up on March 28, 1917, at which time the 1st Infantry Regiment of Connecticut and the 2nd Infantry Regiment were combined to from the 102nd Infantry Regiment, at this time the unit became Company A of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, it was still fondly called the Grays but only as an unofficial "Nickname." The 102 Infantry left for France on September 7, 1917. Company A took part in may campaigns, among them Il De France, Champange-Mare, Aisene-Marne, Oise_Marnne, St. Michiel, Muse Argone, and Lorraine. At the Battle of Seicheprey, the 102nd Infantry met the crack German Guards in overwhelming strength and stopped the German attack cold. At the start of this attack, the Germans sent a raiding party to kill or capture the Regimental Staff as they sat down for supper in the town, two cooks from Company A who were cooking for the staff, spotted the Germans sneaking up to the building, one cook threw boiling water at the raiders thus giving the alarm, and another cook named Edward Shaffer charged the Germans with his meat cleaver killing two of them. The 102nd Infantry Band who was providing security guard, killed or captured the remaining German raiders saving the staff who could coordinate the counter attack, (A painting of this action hangs in the102nd Infantry Museum in the New Haven Armory.) During the counter attack Company A and Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry were decorated by the French Government for this action.
Following World War I, the 102nd Infantry returned home to Connecticut to again become National Guard Units. Company A, now called the Grays was housed in the Meadow Street Armory until 1928, when it moved to the Goffe Street Armory in New Haven with the rest of the 1ste Battalion 102nd Infantry Regiment were it stayed until 1941, when the 43rd Infantry Division that the 102nd Infantry Regiment became a part of in 1924, was called up for 1 year federal service (which lasted 4 years).
During World War II, the 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry moved out as part of a task force on January 30, 1942 to the South Pacific. Company A 1st Battalion Infantry went to Christmas Island. The battalion remained on Christmas Island, and there are many stories about their fears of a Japanese invasion of the island that never came. The stories are preserved in the 102nd Infantry Museum in the New Haven Armory. In time most of the members of the battalion were reassigned to other units most going to the 25th and 37th Infantry Divisions where they took part of the toughest fighting in the Pacific. Company A as a whole remained on Christmas Island until the spring of 1945 when they began training for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. With the drop of the atom bombs on Japan, and the surrender of the Japanese, the invasion was not necessary. Estimates were that the 43rd Infantry Division would suffer 80-90 percent casualties as they were scheduled to be in the first waves to invade Japan, and were to face and enemy determined to die in defense of their homeland.
The War ended in 1945 but most of the troops did not return home until the following year.
It wasn't long before the 102nd Infantry Regiment was back in the Harness again. North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950 and the 102nd Infantry Regiment while at Annual Training at Pine Camp, New York (now called Fort Drum) learned of the impending federal call up. On August 16, 1950 the 102nd Infantry Division, along with it's parent Headquarters, the 43rd Infantry Division were called up an sent to Camp Pickett, Virginia. For a year , the battalion trained with draftees from around the country used to bring the 43rd Infantry Division up to full war time strength, Then came the 3rd Army Maneuvers at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in August/September 1951, and on October 11, 1951, the entire 43rd Infantry Division sailed to Germany as part of the NATO Defense Force along the "Iron Curtain."
The 102nd Infantry Regiment landed at Bremerhaven and proceeded by rail to Camp V-79 outside Mannheim, Germany. The 102nd Infantry Regiment was assigned to Ausburg for about a year, participating in may field operations and training exercises. The following year the troops returned home in several groups and after release from federal service. The 102nd Infantry Regiment was reorganized in late 1952 with the company being assigned to the New Haven Armory along with the rest of the 1st Battalion and the Regimental Headquarters.
In 1959, the 102nd Infantry Regiment was reorganized into tow battle groups. On May 1963 into two separate battalions, the 1st of the 102nd Infantry and the 2nd of the 102nd Infantry. On December 16, 1967, the battalion was assigned to the 26th Infantry Division along with the 43rd Infantry Brigade, renewing an association that began in 1918.
In April of 1992, Company A 1-102nd Infantry became part of the 3rd Battalion 102nd Infantry Regiment in anticipation of the reorganization of the Connecticut Army National Guard. Company A of the 1st Battalion 169th Infantry located in New Britain became Company A 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry. The designation "The New Have Grays" remained with Company A 3rd Battalion 102nd Infantry until September 1992, when the 3rd Battalion 102nd Infantry along with the 1st Battalion 169th Infantry were deactivated. The designation "The New Haven Grays" were passed to HHC 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry Regiment in October 1992, in a ceremony held at the East Haven Rifle Range. The reason being the Grays Charter stipulates they are to guard New Haven only and can not move out of city limits.