On March 7, 1918, German artillery rained down on an American position at Rouge Bouquet, a position that had generally been quiet. A dugout where 22 American soldiers had taken shelter collapsed.
Rescue efforts, led by Maj. William Donovan began immediately despite the shelling, but they were only able to rescue three men and 19 died in the collapse.
The men were members of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. The 165th was originally the 69th regiment of the New York National Guard (the Fighting 69th) which had gained fame in the Civil War as part of the Irish Brigade of the Amy of the Potomac.
Maj. “Wild Bill” Donovan was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his efforts, but he would become more famous in World War II as the founder of the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, the predecessor of the CIA.
A memorial service was held a few days later for the men who died, with Sgt. Joyce Kilmer reading a poem he had written, “Rouge Bouquet.” The poem was later published in “Stars and Stripes” two weeks after Kilmer was killed July 30 during the Second Battle of the Marne.