Free presentation offered in Saratoga Springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The story of the National Guard’s 42nd Division in World War I will be the subject of a free presentation at the New York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The talk, titled “Poets, Politics and Poison Gas,” will be delivered by retired Maj. Patrick Chaisson, a former Army National Guard officer and a writer specializing in military history.
Chaisson will discuss the combat performance of the 42nd Infantry Division during the war.
Dubbed the “Rainbow Division” by then Col. Douglas McArthur, the division was made up of National Guard units from 26 states. McArthur said the division would “stretch across the country like a rainbow” giving the unit its nickname.
Chaisson’s presentation will focus on the Aisne-Marne offensive of July-August 1918. This was the first major American-led assault against German forces in World War I. He will also discuss many famous participants of this campaign, such as future five-star general MacArthur and poet Joyce Kilmer, who served in the New York National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the division.
Chaisson uses rare photographs, interactive maps, and first-person accounts of the battle to tell the story of a battle which happened 100 years ago.
Today the 42nd Infantry Division is part of the New York Army National Guard and based in Troy. The division has a training relationship with National Guard units from New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New Jersey.
In 2005, the division deployed to Iraq and commanded 23,000 troops including soldiers from the active Army, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.
Chaisson is a writer who lives in Scotia. He retired from the Army after a 26-year career in both the active component and the New York Army National Guard. Chaisson’s military assignments include service with the 82nd Airborne Division, 27th Infantry Brigade and the 42nd Infantry Division.
The program is sponsored in part by the Friends of the New York State Military Museum and the Friends of the Saratoga Battlefield.