“In time of war, send me all the Alabamians you can get, but in time of peace, for Lord’s sake, send them to somebody else,”- General Edward H. Plummer

When we think of Alabama’s military history, we most often think of The Creek Indian War and the Civil War, we think of names like Andrew Jackson and William C. Oates we think of Horseshoe Bend and Gettysburg. What doesn’t come to mind is World War I, yet the First World War produced one of the greatest battles in Alabama’s history.

At the heart of this story is the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment, a unit often regarded as the descendant of a Confederate unit with the same name and number. Interestingly, there had not been a 4th Alabama between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and its re-establishment by the Alabama legislature in 1911 as part of the militia. The newly activated 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment, led by Major William Preston Screws, a seasoned regular army officer, assembled at Vandiver Park in Montgomery, Alabama, in late June of 1916 and was sent to the border to hunt Pancho Villa.

The journey of the 4th Alabama did not stop at the Mexican border; it continued to expand and evolve. The regiment underwent basic infantry training at Vandiver Park from July 4, 1916, to October 22, 1916. Later, Major Screws led about 1,300 officers and men to Nogales, Arizona, for advanced infantry training, which lasted until March.

As World War I engulfed the globe, Alabama rallied to support the Allied forces. Among the many battalions that stood tall during the Great War, the 167th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Alabamians,” stood out for its unwavering determination and indomitable spirit. Under the leadership of Colonel C. A. Scruggs, this regiment proved its mettle during the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm.

The Battle of Croix Rouge Farm fought on the blood-soaked soil of France, witnessed a fierce clash between the 167th Infantry Regiment and the formidable 4th Prussian Guards of Germany. It was a battle of attrition, where bravery and tenacity were the only currency. On that fateful day of July 26, 1918, the 167th Infantry Regiment faced intense enemy fire as they pushed forward with unwavering resolve.

The Alabamians encountered a daunting landscape: muddy trenches, shell-pocked fields, and camouflaged machine guns. Yet, they moved forward undeterred, answering the call of duty with a resolute “Hell with the bayonet.” The 1st Battalion, under Major John W. Carroll, and the 3rd Battalion, led by Major Dallas B. Smith, valiantly charged through thin woods towards their objective – the Croix Rouge Farmhouse.

The attack was relentless, and the casualties were heavy. Men fell to enemy fire as they fought valiantly, exhibiting remarkable leadership by example. Major Carroll’s 1st Battalion faced staggering losses, with 65% of its troops either killed or wounded in the initial assault. Captain Lacey Edmundson’s D Company saw 80% of its men killed or wounded during the fierce battle.

Amidst the carnage and chaos, Lieutenant Robert Espy, a true hero of the Croix Rouge Farm, led a successful second effort. With men from various companies coming together in a united front, they displayed unwavering courage and determination, pushing the Germans back and seizing the farmhouse.

However, the 3rd Battalion, under Major Dallas B. Smith, faced its share of trials. Despite being pushed back and reorganizing into two small companies, a ray of hope emerged as First Lieutenant Edward R. “Shorty” Wrenn and his detail brought a one-pounder mortar. Wrenn’s efforts turned the tide of the battle, saving the day and earning him the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.

As night fell on July 26, the battlefield was shrouded in darkness and drizzling rain. The Alabamians showed unwavering determination, attending to the wounded, while burial parties somberly laid the fallen soldiers to rest. It was a night of sorrow and heartache, yet the Alabama spirit endured.

The Battle of Croix Rouge Farm was a testament to the courage, resilience, and unbreakable spirit of the Alabamians. Their sacrifice and heroism stood out amidst the chaos of war, exemplifying the true meaning of valor. While the battle itself was overshadowed by the more significant conflict of World War I, it remains a crucial chapter in Alabama’s history – a chapter that deserves remembrance and recognition.

In the annals of Alabama’s military history, the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm finds its place alongside the gallant actions of William Oates and other celebrated military heroes. These brave Alabamians, with their bayonets held high, exemplified the spirit of their state, displaying unwavering determination and courage in the face of adversity. As we remember the courage of those who fought at Croix Rouge Farm, let us honor their sacrifice and ensure that their memory lives on, undiminished and forever etched in the fabric of Alabama’s rich military history.

John Slaughter

John Slaughter is a native Alabamaian. He is a graduate of Troy University, a Marine Corps Veteran, and an aspiring novelist.


  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    Semper Fi my Alabama cousins. Deo Vindice

  • Earl Starbuck says:

    The old 4th Alabama/167th played an important part in the Battle of the Ourcq River, too, as I recall. 28 July-6 August. They were responsible in no small part for Douglas MacArthur’s successful military career.

  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.

    At least I used to think so…now…maybe I know better. To fight and die, led by evil men is to do yourself no honor. To fight for a country that has no honor and is led by evil men turns the stomach. I can understand how men have always had to choose between the lesser of two evils. I just wonder if the choices have always been so confused.

    I don’t have the perspective of a dirt farmer, hearing news from afar, in bits and pieces. I get bombarded by lies 24/7. Mail doesn’t have to make its way thru injun country…it has to squeeze through corporate filters of varying meshes and thicknesses depending on its proximity to the truth.

    Men fight for what they believe in, and it’s usually just the guy on the left and the right of them validating that belief. It doesn’t take much to destroy an army. Your Alabamians were lucky…the psyop had not been perfected against them.

    Today, you strike back against the psyop aimed at your people. Thank you for your contribution.

  • Lewis Bell says:

    Thank you for a very information and well-written article. As a fellow Alabamian, I’m embarrassed to admit that I did not know about the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm.

  • Baron says:

    Nothing heroic about fighting and dying for the great satan that is the USA. They were fools or worse. I have no respect for American soldiers that contributed to globalism and evil. The Germans were the good (or least bad) guys then, and they’ve been punished for that ever since.

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