1st Battalion 22nd Infantry


The 22nd Infantry during the World War 1917-1918



Souvenir of G Company 22nd Infantry's service
at Ft Niagara 1917


The following account is taken from an offical history of the 22nd Infantry Regiment, written in 1922.


Service in the World War


Immediately following the declaration of war, on April 6, the First Battalion, 22nd Infantry,
proceeded from Fort Jay to Hoboken, New Jersey, where they transferred the crews of the German ships
lying alongside the great North German Lloyd and Hamburg-American line piers,
from their ships to Ellis Island, New York harbor, where they were interned.

This action was, beyond all doubt, the first act of war committed by the armed forces of the United States against Germany.
The transfer of the German sailors was effected in a quiet and orderly manner, and without resort to force of any sort.
On the completion of this duty the First Battalion returned to Fort Jay.
The Third Battalion of the regiment acted as guard at Ellis island from April 12 to April 20.

It was not long before the Government realized that not only was the property and shipping
of the great German lines in Hoboken of such enormous value that it must be protected and guarded,
but also that the piers and deep-water slips afforded facilities for the handling of overseas shipments
of either men or supplies, which were unequalled at any other port in the country.
As a result of this viewpoint, the Second Battalion, 22nd Infantry, was ordered from its station at Fort Totten,
New York, to the piers in Hoboken, on April 18, 1917, the order being received
while the battalion was on a practice march about one mile from the post at 10:30 A. M.
The command was marched back to Fort Totten at double time, packed up its full field equipment,
and left for Hoboken by boat at 3:30 on the afternoon of the same day.
The battalion reached Hoboken at about 8 p. M., April 18, and immediately went into quarters on the piers,
Companies E and F taking over the Hamburg-American line section, while Companies G and H
were quartered on the North German Lloyd side.

The officers of the Second Battalion at this time were as follows:

Captain George N. Bomford, commanding the battalion and Company H.
1st Lieutenant J. B. Bennett, Jr., commanding Company G, and acting battalion adjutant.
Captain J. H. Van Horn and Second Lieutenant D. S. Appleton, Company E.
Second Lieutenant J. V. Ware, Company F.
Second Lieutenant F. M. Van Natter, Company G.
Second Lieutenant J. A. Anderson, Company H.

Within the course of two or three days a thorough system was devised for the proper guarding of the piers and ships,
and the battalion entered upon a tour of guard duty that lasted for many months.
June 22, 1917, Companies A, B, F, G, K and L left their respective stations at Fort Jay and Fort Hamilton
and proceeded by rail to the New Jersey State Rifle Range at Sea Girt, New Jersey, where annual target practice was held.
Throughout this practice the troops lived under canvas at Camp Edge, named for the governor of the state.
The above organizations returned to their proper stations July 14, and on the following day
Companies C, D, E, H, I, M, machine gun company and supply company left for Camp Edge
to fire the prescribed annual course. The latter units left Sea Girt and returned to their proper stations on July 25.

August 3, 1917, the 22nd Infantry was called upon to furnish three officers and 400 enlisted men for immediate duty overseas.
At a conference of the field officers and company commanders held at regimental headquarters on that day,
the enlisted personnel for this detail were selected, each on account of some specific qualification,
such as motorcyclists, automobile and truck drivers, horsemen, horseshoers, wagoners,
mechanics and telegraphers. This detachment was transferred to headquarters troop,
headquarters train and military police of what was then termed the First Expeditionary division
and later became famous as the First Division, American Expeditionary Forces.

The officers selected were as follows:
Captain George F. Rozelle, Jr., to command the headquarters troop;
First Lieutenant P. K. Kelly, to command the first company;
Second Lieutenant Charles W. Yuill, to command the second company.

It is unfortunate that it is not within the province of this book to follow the subsequent careers of these men in France,
but theirs is the history of the First Division rather than the 22nd Infantry. Suffice it to say,
that the officers and men ultimately became distributed among nearly all the organizations of the First Division,
and throughout their service conducted themselves in a manner of which their old regiment may well be proud.
Captain Rozelle was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and Captain Yuill was cited in orders for gallantry
on five separate occasions. Regimental Sergeant-Major Patrick Regan, who had been transferred from duty
as first sergeant of Company H, 22nd Infantry, was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Many of these men never again returned to the United States, but of those who did,
a large percentage re-enlisted in the 22nd Infantry.

In September, 1917, the regimental supply company was attached to the 42nd National Guard division,
then being mobilized at Camp Mills, Garden City, Long Island; and a detachment of three officers
and sixty-one enlisted men was detailed to perform guard duty at Camp Merritt, New Jersey,
from September 1 to September 21.

During the same month, Colonel Tillson was placed on temporary detached service
as in command of the Port of Embarkation, in Hoboken,
and Major Russell V. Venable assumed command of the regiment.
Colonel Tillson and Captain Rush B. Lincoln, regimental adjutant, returned to duty with the regiment the following month.
October 23, 1917, after six months of continuous guard duty on the Hoboken piers, Companies E, F and H
were relieved from that duty and transferred to Fort Hamilton, New York, for station.
Company G remained temporarily at Hoboken in order to turn over in detail
the information essential to continual guarding of the piers by the incoming troops of the 13th Infantry.
On the same day, Company I proceeded to Fort Niagara, New York, leaving detachments performing guard duty
at Clayton and Black Rock, New York. Detachments of Company K were sent also to Ellis Island
and the Morse Dry Dock Company, in Brooklyn, for duty, while Company L was transferred from Fort Hamilton
to Frankford arsenal, Pennsylvania, furnishing detachments for guard at Cramp's Shipbuilding Company,
Philadelphia and Gloucester, New Jersey. Company M changed station from Fort Hamilton to Fort Niagara, New York,
and on November 27, Company H also left Fort Hamilton for station at Plattsburg Barracks, New York.


Fort Jay, New York

Though this photo was taken much later, the fort remains much as it would have looked
during the World War

During the month of December, 1917, the following changes of stations and duties of the units of the regiment occurred:

One officer and 38 enlisted men of Company F, from Fort Hamilton
to Lehigh Valley Railroad piers, Jersey City, N. J., on December 13;

Two officers and 28 enlisted men of Company F, from Fort Hamilton
to the National Dock Company's piers on Black Tom Island, New Jersey;

Company G, from the Hamburg-American line piers, Hoboken, New Jersey,
to the New York Dock Company's piers, Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Company K furnished a detachment of two officers and 59 men for guard duty at Ellis Island, N. Y.,
and another detachment of two officers and 51 enlisted men for the same duty
at the Morse Dry Dock and Repair Company, at Brooklyn, N. Y.

Eighteen enlisted men of the machine gun company were placed on detached service from Fort Hamilton
and assigned to duty at the New York Dock Company in Brooklyn on December 30.
January 29, 1918, Company D, consisting of three officers and 79 enlisted men, proceeded to Kearney Meadows,
New Jersey, where they were detailed to guard the Foundation Shipbuilding Company.
The only other change of station during the month was that of Company E, which was transferred from Fort Hamilton
to Madison Barracks., N. Y., January 8-9. Company D returned to Fort Jay from Kearney Meadows on February 3.
March 13, one officer and 53 enlisted men of Company K, comprising the detachment on duty at Ellis Island,
were returned to Fort Hamilton, where they rejoined the company; three officers and 54 enlisted men left Fort Hamilton
March 14, for duty as a guard over the docks and warehouses utilized by the French High Commission.
This property was located at Franklin and Dupont Streets, Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The following month of April the organizations continued to make many changes of station; these were as follows:

April 1, 25 enlisted men of Company G were attached to Company F,
a detachment of two officers and 59 men of this company was detached as a guard at the Erie Railroad piers
in Jersey City, N. J., from April 2-27. On April 28, the entire company, including the 25 men of Company G,
moved to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Company G left Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, on April 4 and proceeded to Howard Place, Bayonne, New Jersey.

April 16, Company K, three officers and 63 men, was transferred by rail from the French High Commission Docks
to Gloucester, New Jersey, there to act as a guard at the Pusey and Jones Shipbuilding Company.

May 13, 1918, the supply company, 22nd Infantry, having completed its duties
in connection with the 42nd Division at Camp Mills, Long Island, moved by wagon train
from that place to Fort Hamilton; total distance covered, 35 miles.

Companies A and D moved from Fort Jay, N. Y., to Camp Edge, Sea Girt, New Jersey, for target practice,
August 9, 1918. The two companies returned to Fort Jay August 20.


1st Battalion Serves as the Capitol Guard in Washington, D.C.

August 21, Companies B and C left Fort Jay for East Potomac Park, Washington, D. C.
They arrived in Washington, D. C., at 6:00 A. M. the following day.
Companies A and D followed as soon as possible, and reached Washington at 6:00 A. M. August 24.


Company E was transferred from Madison Barracks, New York, to Fort Jay, arriving at the latter post
at 9:00 A. M. August 21. On the same day, Company F was transferred from Sandy Hook to Fort Jay,
and Company I moved from Fort Niagara to Fort Jay, arriving on August 24.
Company L was also transferred to Fort Jay, leaving Frankford Arsenal, Pa., on the morning of August 27
and arriving at Fort Jay at 3:30 P. M. the same day.
August 8-9, .1918, Company G moved from the Elco Boat plant, Bayonne, New Jersey,
to the Syracuse Recruit camp, Syracuse, New York. August 26, headquarters company proceeded from Fort Jay
to Camp Edge, Sea Girt, New Jersey, and returned from that station September 7.


From September 3-6, inclusive, a so-called "slacker drive", or round-up of evaders of the selective draft,
was held in New York City. Company F, 22nd Infantry, five officers and 188 enlisted men,
was placed on duty in the city in connection with this movement. The company had little to do
in aiding the draft authorities to pick up the delinquents, and having been relieved from this duty on September 6,
proceeded, three days later, with Company L,, to Sea Girt, N. J., for target practice.
Both companies returned to Fort Jay on September 22.

October 10, Company E left Fort Jay at 3:30 p. M., for Morgan, New Jersey, arriving at 6:00 p. M. the same day.
A terrific explosion had just occurred in the powder magazines at the government plant,
and this company was immediately dispatched as a guard. Company G was transferred from the Syracuse Recruit camp
to Anatol, New Jersey, October 19.

On November 11, 1918, the armistice was signed,
and all military operations against the enemy were suspended at 11 A. M. that day.

To say that the foregoing record of almost continuous change of station of all the organizations
of the 22nd Infantry constitute a narrative of the part it played in the World War would be a statement far from the truth.
It is, however, quite impossible to tell in detail of the long and arduous tours of guard duty performed by the regiment
during the nineteen months of the war. That the regiment played a highly important part in the government's plans
to defeat the enemy is beyond question, and the fact that of all the millions of dollars' worth of property
entrusted to the regiment's care between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, not one atom was ever lost to the nation
or to an individual owner, speaks for the manner in which the 22nd Infantry accomplished its task
in words far more potent than can be set down in the pages of a book.




Colonel J.C.F. Tillson

Colonel John Charles Fremont Tillson commanded the 22nd Infantry Regiment from 1916 to 1920.

In 1917, with mobilization underway, COL Tillsontook the regiment from Camp Harry Jones, Arizona, to Fort Jay,
Governors' Island, New York, where, as commander of the 22nd Infantry he also became commander of Fort Jay.
The draft had been instituted in 1917, when it became apparent the United States would inevitably enter the World War.
Those who resisted the draft were brought to Governors' Island, where it would be decided if they would serve in the military
or serve sentences of incarceration. As commandant, Colonel Tillson had command over these men.


"Colonel Tillson...had charge of "slackers", men who failed to comply with the draft law.

In the opinion of competent observers, he handled a difficult problem with tact and

common sense. Scores of men who came before him, sullen and defiant, a few hours later left

Governors' Island for Camp Upton as anxious to get into the service as they

previously had been to avoid it. More than 95 per cent of the slackers he

interviewed later got ready enthusiastically and faithfully at Camp Upton to

'go over the top'.

At times he had to use as many as three interpreters to get to the bottom of the case of some

unfortunate who had American citizenship papers but could not understand a single

word printed on those documents. His experience in China, where he had to

communicate with Chinese through interpreters, then stood him in good stead."

The New York Times, Wednesday December 17, 1941



The port of New York, and more officially, Governors' Island, was designated the port of embarkation
for the US troops expected to be sent overseas to the War in Europe. The 22nd Infantry Regiment would not be sent overseas,
but would be given the mission of guarding the docks at Hoboken, New Jersey, against possible acts of sabotage or espionage.
As commandant of Fort Jay, Colonel Tillson was also given the job of protecting the railroads leading into the city.

On April 6, 1917, at 3 a.m. war was declared. However, Colonel Tillson had been ready and had made plans in advance.
At one minute past 3 a.m. , he sent detachments of the 22nd Infantry to the docks in Hoboken, where they took possession
of all ships of the North German Lloyd and Hamburg American Lines. Altogether they seized 16 German ships,
including the Vaterland (later named the Leviathan) and took their crews into custody.

By this seizure, well-planned by Colonel Tillson long in advance of the war declaration,


The 22nd Infantry remained under Colonel Tillson's command at Governors' Island throughout the war.

In 1920 Colonel Tillson was retired from the US Army.

Edited from THE ELMIRA ADVERTISER, 1938 and 1941


*A heartfelt Thank You to Grace Paris, who graciously shared the above information about her grandfather, Col JCF Tillson.



Above: Discharge of Sergeant Reynold D. Schmidt of the 716th Motor transport Company stationed at Fort Jay, New York.
Document is signed by Colonel John C.F. Tillson, Commanding Officer of the 22nd Infantry and of the Post of Fort Jay.

Courtesy of John Willis, the grandson of Reynold D. Schmidt




The importance of the seizure of the German ships by the 22nd Infantry should not be under-estimated.
All of the seized vessels were pressed into American service, to be used as cargo ships and troop carriers,
adding immensly to the movement of men and material across the Atlantic to the war zone.

The USS Leviathan

One of the German ships seized by the 22nd Infantry at Hoboken on April 6, 1917 was the Vaterland (Fatherland).
After refitting and renovation, the ship was renamed the USS Leviathan, and was used to ferry troops
to and from the European theatre of operations.

From 1914-1921 this was the largest ship of any kind afloat. She was 950 feet long and 100 feet wide, displacing 54,000 tons.

During the war the Leviathan made 19 round trips across the Atlantic, carrying 10 % of all American troops ferried.
In March of 1919 she brought home 14,416 troops on one run, setting a world record
for the most people ever sailing on a single ship.

After the war the Leviathan once again was refitted, and became a passenger liner from the years 1921-1934.
She was scrapped in 1938.


The Vaterland in a photo taken before the war, and looking much as she would have
when seized by the 22nd Infantry.



The USS Leviathan, in her wartime camouflage paint, about to set out across the Atlantic.



Workers leave the Leviathan during one of her refittings.
Her immense size can be gauged by the size of the workers coming down the fore and aft gangplanks.
For seven years this was the largest ship in the world.







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