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 Texas : Features : World War I

An Abbreviated and Incomplete
History of the 19th Infantry Regiment

They fought the British, Rebels, Indians,
Spanish, Mexicans, Philippine Insurgents,
Hurricanes, Blizzards, Malaria (and maybe Elliot Ness)

by John Troesser
(RA 14884897)

The 19th Infantry Regiment
& Private Dennis Buchicchio

19th Infantry Regiment battle Flag

The flag of the 19th Infantry Regiment that was flown over Veracruz

Formed a mere 16 days after the War of 1812 was declared, the 19th Infantry originally served under the command of General Winfield Scott. During this conflict, the 19th participated in the Battle of Niagra, the attack on Fort Mackinac and the Battle of Fort Erie. At the close of the war (1815), the 19th was consolidated with other regiments to form the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division.

During the Civil War elements of the 19th saw action at Shiloh, defended Washington against a threatened attack in 1862, participated in the battle at Murphreesboro and Chickamauga and were present at Antietam (but not engaged).

During Reconstruction the 19th was stationed in towns across Arkansas and in the 1870s, elements of the 19th guarded wagon trains to Fort Supply and Fort Dodge, Kansas while others guarded the railroad. Units fought Indians at Sappa Creek and others were caught in a blizzard outside of Fort Wallace, Kansas in January of 1875.

In 1879 the 19th's commanding officer, Lt. Col Lewis received a fatal wound in a skirmish with Indians fighting under Chief Dull Knife. The 19th took part in the last major campaign against the Indians and then various companies of the 19th were scattered to lonely outposts throughout the West waiting for the next fight which didn't take place until the USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor.

During the Spanish-American War, the 19th was one of the first units dispatched. Transported by train to Mobile and then Tampa, on July 21st the regiment boarded the USS Florida and USS Cherokee to set sail for what was then called "Porto Rico." They spent a year in Ponce performing guard and provost duty, then sailed to New York where they boarded trains to the west coast. On July 27, 1899 they sailed for Manila.

The regiment was broken into company-sized units and participated in many battles with the Insurgents before returning to the U.S. in 1902. They served a second tour in the Philippines from 1905 to 1907 and a third and final tour from February 1910 to May of 1912.

On April 23rd, 1914, the regiment was made part of the Fifth Brigade under General Frederick Funston - an American hero from his actions in the Philippines and for being "The Man who saved San Francisco" during the 1906 earthquake. They were with Funston when he briefly occupied Vera Cruz, Mexico after a "misunderstanding" between the U.S. Navy and Mexico. After that they were then sent back to Galveston - where they had been quartered prior to the Mexican occupation. There at Galveston they were battered by the hurricane of August 15, 1915. The camp was destroyed and the 19th was again split up with some companies being dispatched to Fort Sill, Oklahoma and other units to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

In the fall of 1917 the third battalion of the 19th was sent to Goose Creek, Texas (now included in greater Baytown) to quell a riot by oil field workers. After the strike was settled, the 19th won praise from the oil worker's union for their fairness in dealing with the strikers. The president of the union even requested that "if the Government intends to keep troops here, why can't it be the 19th Infantry?"
Colonel Robert C. Williams
Colonel Robert C. Williams
(West Point Class of 1886).
During WWI the 19th was again scattered - but their Headquarters was in the newly formed Camp Travis, just north of San Antonio's Fort Sam. Company 'A' was camped on San Antonio's South Flores Street - guarding the Army's warehouses and the U.S. Arsenal. The 19th provided men for other units that were reorganizing for Europe. In 1918, the 19th's commanding officer Col. Millard F. Waltz, was given a retirement parade in downtown San Antonio, not far from the Arsenal grounds. Col. Waltz was replaced by Colonel Robert C. Williams (West Point Class of 1886).
Gatepost at former US Arsenal  in San Antonio
A gatepost at the former U.S. Arsenal in San Antonio
TE Photo March 2006
* * * * *
Private Dennis Buchicchio of the 19th Infantry Regiment

Photos courtesy of his son, Raymond Buchicchio, Roselle, Illinois, who spent 29 months riding a destroyer in both Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of War during the Second World War..
Our thanks to Mr. Buchicchio for providing the photos and the Regimental Roster for the 19th Regiment which have since been forwarded to Fort Sam Houston's library. - Editor
Private Buchiccio in dress uniform 1918
Private Buchiccio in dress uniform 1918
Motorcycle Messenger of Company "B"
Private Buchiccio as motorcycle messenger, WWI
Private Buchiccio on motorcycle
 

Left: Private DB poses on cycle with sidecar. Inscribed on back: "Come on Katie, let's go for a ride. I am starting the machine."
Right: A dapper Private DB in gloves and garrison cap. 1918

Dennis Buchiccio back home in Chicago on a civilian motorcycle
Civilian Dennis Buchiccio back home in Chicago on a civilian motorcycle.
* * * * *
Al Capone's Triggermen?

The organization of the Army and its various units have evolved over time. In 1918 Army battalions had "Machine Gun Companies." It is interesting to note that the roster of men from the 19th Infantry Regiment's Machine Gun Company were mostly recruits from Chicago, Illinois.

Of the 147 enlisted men, 114 were from Chicago (five more were from NYC). All of the men were Privates except for one Corporal and a single "First Class Private" as they called PFCs back then. The NCOs were mostly from northern states (Michigan, Iowa, and Pennsylvania) with a sprinkling from the South (Kentucky and South Carolina). A single Sergeant was from San Antonio. Among the Privates there were only four other Texans. One each from Bertram, Gardner, San Antonio and Amarilla [sic].

Assuming these men were discharged after the war (to become "The Forgotten Men" of the Great Depression), they would've still been in their prime during Prohibition. Imagine looking for a job in Chicago when the only piece of equipment you could operate fired bullets? Who in Chicago was hiring during the 1920s?

The following names are from the 19th Infantry's Machine Gun Company's roster: Vincenzo Castrogiovanni, Pietro Castronovo, Fernand Delaune, Nicholas Delirigio, Vincenzo Di Gaetano, Vito Forges, Carminio Ianone, Cesare Palma, Natale Porcelli, Bruno Ritacco, and Jimmy Romegnano. There's not enough evidence to prove that they were later employed by Mr. Capone, it makes an interesting historical supposition.

John Troesser
Anyone wishing to share stories or photos of their fathers, uncles, grandfathers or great grandfathers that served in Kansas, Mexico, the Philippines, or Goose Creek, please contact us.

More World War I Chronicles
See also World War II Chronicles
 
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This page last modified: June 1, 2006