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Major General John F. Hartranft, who was later governor of Pennsylvania, came up with the idea of building a Pennsylvania National Guard. The idea was initiated in 1878 as the 10th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, and by 1881, consisted of Company A (Monongahela); Company B (New Brighton), which had been transferred from the 15th Regiment; Company C (Uniontown); Company D (Freedom); Company E (West Bridgewater); Company H (Washington); Company I (Greensburg); and Company K (Waynesburg). Sometime between 1886 and 1891, both Companies D and E were disbanded. The regiment was commanded by Colonel Alexander Hawkins and was attached to General Wiley's Brigade. During the summers from 1879 to 1898, the unit trained at Mt. Gretna, Pa. In 1891 and 1892, the regiment was used in the Homestead Steel riots and the labor strike in the coke fields of Westmoreland County.'
The Tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers were pressed into duty during the Spanish-American War. Orders were first sent directing them to Georgia with the expectation of being part of the force to invade Cuba, but before they could head south, their orders were changed to report to San Francisco and then to the Philippines under General Wesley Merritt. The men paraded through New Brighton, amid the cheers of people lining the streets. There the Company boarded day coaches and were handed Bibles as they got on the train. It took them eight days to reach the west coast where they arrived on June 14, 1898. Seven days later, their transport ships arrived in Manila. By the end of the month, the Tenth saw its first action in foreign lands while defending entrenchments to the south of Manila during a typhoon. They met the enemy in hand to hand combat with fixed bayonets after ammunition had been temporarily depleted. Inspired by Colonel Alexander Hawkins' return from the sickbed, they successfully drove the Spanish from their positions. It was reported the Tenth had "yielded not one inch of ground ... and had left the field with his (the Spanish) thousand or more dead and wounded."' The Tenth then occupied the Philippines serving at the hospital on Corregidor until May 14, 1899. During that occupation, the Tenth had to go up against the Filipino insurgents who proved a more difficult foe than the Spanish since they knew the islands so well.' Upon its return via Yohohomma and Nagasaki, Japan, the Tenth was saddened to find its commander, Colonel Hawkins had died en route home. The Fighting Tenth then returned to the United States, and provided with three special Pullman trains financed by $25,000 in funds from home area and the Pennsylvania Railroad, traveled home across the country. In Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, the troops were welcomed by President William McKinley. On September 30, 1899, they participated in the Dewey Day Parade in New York, marching to the music of John Philip Sousa's 200 piece band.
The Tenth served sporadically in domestic situations until July 8, 1916 when it was transferred to the Texas-Mexico border when trouble began to develop between the countries. The unit was then demobilized after a gigantic parade in Pittsburgh on October 5, 1916.
After the outbreak of World War L the old "Fighting Tenth" was reorganized as the 110th Regiment (organized from the Tenth and Third Regiments under Colonel Henry Coulter and Colonel George Kemp). Company B initially sent 150 men and three officers nearly all from Beaver County. After mobilization, the troops trained at Camp Cuthbertson in Brady's Run and then at Camp Hancock, Augusta, Georgia, September 7, 1917. In April, 1918, they moved to Camp Meritt, and then on to France on May 4. Throughout its service in France and Germany, the 110th earned praise and recognition in the Campagne-Marne defensive, the Aisne-Marne offensive, the Fismes Sector, the Oise-Aisne offensive, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, and the Thiscourt Sector. Their casualties were 15,433, the highest among any national guard unit. The Germans called the unit "The Bucket of Blood"' because of the red keystone patch, on the men's arms, and John J. Pershing designated the 28th as the "Iron Division."' On May 11, 1919, Company B returned to the United States and was demobilized after twenty-two months service. Twenty-one of the Company's men had been killed and fifty-eight wounded.
Another County unit from the 110th Regiment in World War I was the Machine Gun Company, recruited and trained by Captain John E. "Give Em Hell"
Boyle of Beaver Falls who had been wounded twice while attacking a German machine gun position, and later received eleven wounds from an exploding shell. This Company served in the same areas as Company B. The commander of the First Battalion, Colonel Joseph H. Thompson, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his capture of a German machine gun nest.' One soldier from the Machine Gun Company, Private Richard Lucht remembered how the mules that pulled the gun carriages were given gas masks in preference to the men because the men could be replaced, but the mules could not! Between the two World Wars, the Regiment was used in 1936 to keep law-and-order and prevent looting after the Johnstown Flood.
Company B in World War I became part of the 28th Division, 110th Infantry Regiment. It was mobilized on February 17, 194 1, and left from New Brighton's old freight station on Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street on February 24. Rigorous training followed at Indiantown Gap (Pa.), Virginia (basic training at A.P.Hill Military Reservation), the Carolinas (maneuvers), Louisiana (forced overland march of nearly 1600 miles), and Florida (amphibious training). The 110th landed at Bristol, England on October 18, 1943, trained for seven months on invasion techniques, and landed in Normandy on July 22, 1944. The Company saw its first action only six days later. The Regiment achieved a bit of glory in being the first unit to check the great counter-offensive by the Germans commonly referred to as the Battle of the Bulge or the Ardennes counter-offensive in December, 1944. The command post had been overrun but elements of the unit fought in isolated groups, delaying the enemy advance until reinforcements arrived. Colonel Daniel B. Strickler, then in command, reorganized and successfully defended Wiltz, Luxembourg until Division Headquarters could be evacuated. Finding himself surrounded by the enemy, Strickler still managed to effect the escape of his men through 35 miles of enemy lines. After the Bulge, the 110th progressed through Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands until they got to the Rhine River on February 28, 1945. After VE (Victory in Europe) Day, it occupied the Saarland, expecting to be transferred to the Pacific Theater. The dropping of the atomic bomb ended the war through, and the regiment was deactivated on October 25, 1945.
Following the War, the 110th resumed training and served as NATO forces in Germany during the Korean War and in the civil rights disturbances in Pittsburgh following the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. They were also used to handle flood services due to the destruction of Hurricane Agnes in 1972, strikes of independent truckers in 1974, the effects of Tropical Storm Eloise in 1975, and the Blizzard of 1977.
The Armory in New Brighton that served as Company B's home practically from its inception, was abandoned in place of a new structure on Janet Street in Chippewa in 1978. The cost of the new structure was $1.2 million. Meanwhile the old Armory in New Brighton was taken over by the Borough and renovated as a Municipal Building.
The official designation of the unit presently
at the new Armory is: Company B, 28th Signal Battalion, Army National
Guard, and 475th Quartermaster, U.S. Army Reserves.