U.S. 42nd Division, 151st Field Artillery Battery F

  Hover over the squares on the image below to learn about the scene.

Caisson (kā-sän)

Caissons were designed to carry the ammunition needed for large field guns. Horses and mules moved the heavy caissons throughout the war; this caisson carried shells for a 75 mm gun.


A shell, also known as a round, is a term used for a projectile and its outer casing. This 75 mm shell weighed 16 pounds and had a maximum range of 5.3 miles (8,500 meters). More than 20 rounds per minute could be fired by the "French 75" field artillery.

Field Artillery

This gun, known as the "French 75," weighed 3,400 pounds (1,544 kilograms) and was a groundbreaking weapon in its mobility and recoil system. The hydro-pneumatic recoil system, which kept a stable location for the gun as it was fired, was considered a French national secret.

Sidearm Holster

This standard holster was made of leather and often used by U.S. servicemen to carry a Model 1911 Colt .45 caliber automatic pistol.

U.S. First Aid Packet in Pouch

Every American soldier carried a U.S. first aid packet on his waist belt. The metal box, inside the canvas cover, contained two rolled bandages and two safety pins.

Steel Helmet

This steel helmet is based on a British design and weighed about 2.5 pounds. Inside the helmet, there was a lining, leather support and a chin strap.

Puttee (put-tee)

Puttees, an East Indian term, were made of wool and tightly wrapped around the legs from the ankles to the knees. Worn outside of the soldier’s pants, puttees were originally believed to increase muscle stamina, but the best contribution they offered was an extra layer of protection against mud.

Images like this one, originally owned by a YMCA rest camp worker stationed in Germany, tell a lot about the war.  Because of the information written on the back, we know it is a picture of Battery F, 151st Field Artillery, U.S. 42nd Division. 

National Guard units from all over the United States, from Iowa to Alabama and California to New York, made up the 42nd Division.  Because of the number of states represented, the 42nd earned the nickname the “Rainbow Division” and took on a post-war shoulder sleeve insignia of a rainbow.  The Rainbow Division, which included poet Joyce Kilmer, took part in several severe fights.  

On July 15, 1918, Artilleryman Charles MacArthur, of the 42nd Division, described the dangers: “Black clouds rise from Reims Cathedral, on fire in front, a boiling bank of dirty smoke hides the flower of the Prussian Guard.  In back, ammunition trains race across the fields at a dead gallop. The guns are so hot now that they have to be swabbed after every shot.” 

Questions to consider:

Why would the U.S. be using French artillery?
Was this picture staged or in the midst of battle? Why or why not?