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Fall 2007 Immersion Event Information

October 20th and 21st, 2007
The March to Sedan
A high quality living history immersion event portraying the 168th Regiment of the the 42nd Division during the final days of The First World War

About the Event

An extremely high quality first person immersion event portraying the march to Sedan during the fall of 1918 will be taking place the weekend of October 20-21 in central Iowa.  The focus of this event is on experimental archaeology and first person historic interpretation, not the typical sham battles that are so frequently encountered in the re-enacting world.  The emphasis of this event is to better understand the experience of the AEF soldier as the war drew to a close.  Set on nearly 1500 acres of historic ground, this isolated rural site hosts a variety of positive features for such an event.  These include a heavily wooded terrain, stone rock outcroppings, creeks, ravines, a river, charred dead trees from a recent forest fire, abandoned 19th century roadbeds, stone building foundations, boulders, small fields, and barbed wire.  At such a site it is easy to forget that you’re in Iowa or even the 21st century!


Participation at this time is limited to those willing to portray a 1918 AEF impression, which has been narrowed down to that of a single company following the viscous battle of Hill 288 that is now moving towards Sedan as the war draws to a close.  The guiding impression is that of the 168th Regiment of the 42nd Division, Company L.  This organization was one of the first American regiments in France and had a reputation of being one of the AEF’s hardest fighting units.  Initially composed of Iowa National Guard soldiers, the regiment had a huge influx of replacements from all over the country following 75% losses along the Ourcq River earlier that summer.


Activities will include marching nearly ten miles, patrolling, a reserve ration issue, skirmish lines, digging funk holes, establishing outposts, sentry duty, and so much more.  All participants will be given an actual first person name from the regiment and back story, along with a set of dog tags with that person’s name and serial number stamped on them.  If you would be interested in attending such an event, please contact Darrek Orwig at for information pertaining to an assigned first person character, the regiments’ background history, and other important material concerning the event.



The Event Location

The event location is just 45 minutes north of Des Moines International Airport and easily accessable via paved highway. If anyone is interested in flying in for the event, I would be happy to provide transporation from the airport to the event site. In addition as the location is an outdoor education center, there is hostel type lodging available for those participants travelling from out of state and in need of a place to stay either before or after the event.

Within an hour driving distance of the event site is the hometown and grave of one of the first three American soldiers killed during the conflict, an outstanding military museum located at Camp Dodge which was a huge base associated with the war, or various other institutions with research libraries and incredible amounts of period material culture. If there is interest, I would be happy to organize a field trip before or after the event.

Event Standards

The standards for this event are probably much different from what is commonly encountered on unit authenticity guidelines and what is typically acceptable for reenactments.  These are the result of hours of research and will allow participants to better accurately portray how an actual company appeared during the fall of 1918.


Not only do these guidelines focus on material culture, but more important we ask that individuals attending this event bring the right attitude with them.  The purpose of this event is to better learn about the daily lives of the American solider during the fall of 1918 through applied archeology and first person historic interpretation.  Please do not spend your time at this event talking about the fine points of reproduction gear, or re-enactor politics.  This event is so much more than that, it’s an actual chance to immerse yourself in the period!


We ask for 100% compliance with these guidelines, this event is being held on private property and those unwilling or unable to adhere to the authenticity guidelines will be asked to leave, regardless of how far away they drove in order to attend the event.



Both the British and American pattern helmet is acceptable for use.  Initially, the veterans of the regiment were equipped with the British pattern, however as the war progressed and casualties increased the American pattern was issued in large number as battle field loss replacement and to conscripts joining the ranks.



Standard issue blouse of the 1912, 1917, or 1918 pattern are all acceptable for use.  Additionally cut down raincoats being worn as blouses are seen in large numbers as well.



Standard issue breeches of the 1912 or 1917 pattern are acceptable.  On October 25th, there were a number of new breeches drawn from the supply company.



During the fall of 1918 there is a fair amount of documentation suggesting that there was a mix of different styles of shirts worn within the regiment.  The most common would be remnants of the standard issue army shirt; however a large amount of German issue shirts were acquired from captured storehouses.  Additionally, going without a shirt is also acceptable.



Summer weight undergarments were what the regiment was wearing when it entered the Argonne.  German undergarments are also acceptable.  On October 25th there was a number of new drawers issued from the supply company, it's unknown which pattern these are but I speculate these would have been winter weight.



American or German pattern are acceptable.  On October 25th, there were a number of new pairs of socks drawn from the supply company.



Wool puttees were worn by members of the regiment; however recent replacements were arriving with the cotton leggings and were being ridiculed for it.  There was a number of new puttees drawn from the supply company on October 25th.



American, French, or Brown British pattern with German low quarter boots being acceptable as storehouses were being raided for supplies.


Overseas Cap

British, OD French Version, or American Version



Primary material suggests that overcoats were rather rare in the regiment and that men were picking up extra blankets for warmth from German storehouses and U.S. blankets off of the battlefield.  New material shows a number of new overcoats were drawn by Company L from the supply company on October 25th, but there is no actual amount recorded.  Throughout the regiments history, the supply company commonly issued out partial amounts of supplies and this date may have been no different.



At least one U.S. blanket and up to two others being German or American patterns.



Research shows that there were some shortages of these in the company, going without is acceptable.


Shelter Half

Company records suggest that there was a great deficiency of shelter halves.



The wartime variant of the 1910 haversack is the most common pack that shows up in images and artwork associated with the regiment.  At this point no evidence has been found to show the early elliptical meat can pouch and pack in use within the regiment.


Ammunition Belt

The most common ammunition belt being worn within the 168th Infantry was the LTD wartime production pattern.  Eagle snap belts are also acceptable, but in limited numbers.


Canteen, Cup, and Cover

WW1 pattern with LTD covers being the most common when surveying original photographs.  In addition French pattern canteens with brown covers may be utilized as a second canteen.


First Aid Pouch

Standard US Army pattern first aid pouch


Gas Mask

The original members of the regiment were issued British pattern gas masks and bags, but as the war dragged on both this style of bag and the American version were being used by the 168th and even show variation at a squad level.  No French M2 masks as they were no longer being carried by the regiment at this point in the war.


Entrenching Tool

Research is indicating that by this point in the war, many infantrymen in the 168th were parting with the T-handle shovel and digging funk holes with mess kits, bayonets, captured German shovels, and acquired large shovels.  Pick Mattocks and Bolo knives are allowed but in limited numbers.


Trench Knife

There is no firm documentation of what particular pattern of trench knife was being used by the 168th, but participants are encouraged to carry private purchase, French, or 1917 pattern trench knives.  Please no rubber “sham battle” play toys.


Service Rifle

There is overwhelming evidence of both the 1917 and 1903 Pattern rifles being used at this time in the 168th with little thought to standardization by company or squad.  Rifles are expected to have a fitting bayonet that can be attached for maneuvers.  1917 pattern bayonets are to have an American pattern scabbard and 1903 rifles may have either a 1910 scabbard or a 1917 scabbard.  Slings should be of leather with darkened or polished period appropriate hardware.


Trench Shotgun

Winchester M97 shotguns were issued in limited numbers to the 42nd Division during June of 1918.  Research indicates that because of the small scale issue of the M97 shotguns they were frequently utilized by special organizations such as Battalion Scouts.  Event organizers plan to limit the amount of trench shotguns used by participants, in order to keep them from being over represented.  Please inquire prior to bringing a trench shotgun to this event.



Handguns can only be carried by squad leaders, officers, runners, and other parties that would have been issued such a weapon.  The .45 auto of the early 1911 pattern seems to be the most common with smaller numbers of 1917 revolvers being seen in images as early as May of 1918.  If numbers permit, some souvenir handguns will be allowed in limited quantities.



The pockets of the belt are to be full of ammunition, preferably dummy rounds loaded on stripper clips.  In addition up to three bandoliers of ammunition may be carried on the person.  Weapons are to be unloaded of live ammunition at all times and are subject to inspection by officers.


Knit Items

Items that are knit from period appropriate patterns with historically correct materials will be allowed.  These can be either American or German patterns.


Toiletry Kit

Each participant is expected to have a period appropriate toiletry kit.  Please no facial hair longer than a three days growth with the exception of mustaches which should be trimmed to a period military appearance.


Musette Bag

French bread bags, British P08 bags, or Chauchat bags are acceptable.



French pattern grenades are encouraged; however British pattern Mills bombs and German stick grenades are acceptable.  Please carry no more than two grenades per enlisted man within pockets, musette bag, or spare 1910 canteen cover.



All rations will be issued on site; please do not bring your own.  A reserve ration of tinned corned beef, boxed hardtack, coffee, sugar, and salt will be issued along with a bread issue from quarter master department marked burlap bags. 

Please do not bring tinned emergency rations.



Smoking of pipes and filter less cigarettes seem to be the most typical means of nicotine delivery for the soldiers of the 168th Infantry.  Please use accurate pipes and cigarettes with historically correct packs or cases.



There is a fair amount of documentation for the acquisition of souvenirs being picked up by members of the regiment.  German belts, binoculars, buttons, iron crosses, and etc. are all acceptable.



Officers will be pre-selected prior to the event and are to be armed and equipped like the men they lead.  During this period of the war, line officers in the 168th were going on campaign armed and equipped like their men due to heavy losses by snipers in early engagements.  Uniforms may be a tailored commercial pattern or they can be of the standard issue pattern.  Those serving as officers will be expected to be able to competently lead their command in field maneuvers and look out for the well being of their men.  A heavy amount of privately purchased material culture is encouraged.


Auto Rifle Teams

At this point research is showing that two types of automatic rifles were being issued to the regiment.  The Chauchat was used by the first two battalions and the third battalion was equipped with a .303 pattern auto rifle of unknown pattern.  Additionally, only half of the teams carried their AR with them while the other half were armed and equipped as regular infantry with their automatic held in reserve.


Rifle Grenadiers

By looking at company records, we have come to the conclusion that the regiment rifle grenadiers were still carrying French rifles, grenade cups, bayonets, and frogs; as the 1903 Springfield stocks would shatter at the wrist when discharging the French pattern rifle grenades.


Hand Bombers

Grenadiers may use mussette bags, sand bags, or medic belts as a way to carry their munitions.  We ask that grenades be of the French or British pattern.  Pistols of the 1917 and 1911 pattern are permitted to be worn by hand bombers.



We encourage all participants to have a physical prior to attending this event and to share any medical conditions that event organizers may need to be aware of.   All information received will be kept confidential by a trained medic that will be joining us in the field as an infantryman.  Please be aware that this will be physically demanding event that will take participants into a very rural undeveloped area, miles from modern civilization.