318th Infantry, AEF
The 318th Infantry first organized in August 2002 as a handful of reenactors/living historians interested in portraying some of America’s most forgotten and overlooked soldiers, the Doughboys of the American Expeditionary Force. Over the course of the next several years, this small group grew from a mere handful of individuals into a group of 20-30 members. The unit portrays the “Blue Ridge Division”, originally made up of men from Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, while today most of our members hail from Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina, along with members from the Midwest, New England, and the deeper South. Our impression is the 318th Infantry during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September and October 1918. While we are not “stitch-Nazis” we strive to portray the Doughboys in France as accurately as we can and work and research constantly to improve our impression.
The 318th is a member of the Great War Association (GWA) and participates in two major tactical combat weekends a year at the GWA site near Newville, Pennsylvania. These are not “reenactments” in the traditional sense as we do not reenact any specific battle during these events and they are not scripted. They are also reenactor-only events…no spectators. On Friday evening the fighting area, which includes extensive trench lines, barbed wire, and no-man’s land complete with shell craters, is closed off and combat begins and continues until 10-11 p.m. Saturday night. These events are a lot of fun and offer some of the more authentic experiences military reenacting has to offer. As a result, they are also quite a bit more potentially dangerous than reenactments from other eras. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves at these events, but we are also highly safety conscious. If you’re considering coming out with us sometime to give it a try, keep in mind that we do not tolerate anyone handling weapons in an unsafe manner or using the weekends to do their best Rambo impression.
In addition to the April and November events at Newville, the 318th participates in living history programs. Probably reflecting the fact that the unit has many educators and professional living historians in it, the unit likes these opportunities to interact with the public and help educate them about the Great War and the, generally under-appreciated, role the US and the Doughboys played in the drama that greatly influenced the course of the rest of the 20th Century.
If you think you would like to join us there are some things you should know about us so that you get some idea about whether or not you’d be a good fit. If you are an experienced reenactor, you know that units, like people, have their own personalities and are not all the same. For you (and us) to be happy, it’s best if potential recruits know some important things about our group.
- We’re a tight-knit bunch that genuinely enjoys each other’s company. The regard we have for one another comes from the fact that underneath our joking we respect each other’s views and opinions.
- We have members of different political and religious opinions and stripes and that is, in all honesty, fine with us. We may, and do, joke with each other about certain issues, but it is done in good fun and without bitterness or animosity.
- We have no political or religious axes to grind in the 318th.