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Speaker to Discuss Battle of Cantigny: First Battle Won by American Forces 100 Years Ago Has Connections to Old Fort Niagara

by Charlotte Clark
Fri, May 4th 2018 09:00 am
A free lecture by author and historian Matthew Davenport on May 19 will feature the history depicted in this prominent mural in the Fort Niagara Officers' Club, called `The Lions of Cantigny.` It highlights the U.S. 28th Infantry Regiment, which was victorious in the Battle of Cantingy one hundred years ago. Mr. Davenport wrote First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America's First Battle in World War One. (Photo by L. Gugino)
A free lecture by author and historian Matthew Davenport on May 19 will feature the history depicted in this prominent mural in the Fort Niagara Officers' Club, called "The Lions of Cantigny." It highlights the U.S. 28th Infantry Regiment, which was victorious in the Battle of Cantingy one hundred years ago. Mr. Davenport wrote First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America's First Battle in World War One. (Photo by L. Gugino)
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(May 4, 2018) Youngstown, N.Y. – “The Lions of Cantigny” is a colorful, prominent mural at the west end of the Fort Niagara Officers’ Club main hall in Fort Niagara State Park. It depicts hand-to-hand combat between the U.S. Army’s 28th Infantry Regiment and the German 18th Army on May 28 and 29, 1918. Visitors to Old Fort Niagara’s special events who have been in the building and have seen the mural may have wondered:

 

What does it have to do with Fort Niagara?

 

The Battle of Cantigny in northern France, on May 28-29, 1918, was the first offensive action and victory for the American Expeditionary Forces sent to Europe in World War One. The 28th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 1st Division of the AEF, played a critical role in the Battle of Cantigny. After the war, this regiment returned to the U.S. and garrisoned Fort Niagara from 1922 to 1940.

 

The 28th Infantry Regiment received a unit decoration from the French government, as well as the regimental title, “The Lions of Cantigny.” In 1938, the regiment commissioned Buffalo artist, Hubert H. Crawford (1910-1985), to depict a scene from the battle for the main hall of their new Bachelor Officers Quarters and Open Mess, today known as the “Officers’ Club.”

 

In commemoration of this historic battle’s 100th anniversary and its connection to the fort, Old Fort Niagara will host a lecture by Matthew Davenport, author of First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America’s First Battle in World War One, on Saturday, May 19. Mr. Davenport will tell the inspiring, untold story of the soldiers and their journey to victory on the Western Front in the Battle of Cantigny based on their letters, diaries and reports. He will make his presentation below the mural depicting the very same history.

 

The lecture will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Fort Niagara Officers’ Club located at 2 Scott Avenue, Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown, NY, 14174. It is free and open to the public. ADA-accessible viewing will be available in the fort’s Visitor Center simultaneously. Reservations are not required.

 

First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America’s First Battle in World War One will be for sale at the lecture or can be purchased in advance from the fort’s Museum Shop located in the Visitor Center (Thomas Dunn Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York, US$28.99).

 

Matthew Davenport served in the U.S. Army Reserve, is a member of the American Legion, and was the recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution 2017 Medal of Honor. A native of St. Louis and a former prosecutor, he practices law in eastern North Carolina where he teaches at East Carolina University and lives with his wife and two sons. His book was a finalist for the prestigious Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History and has been heralded by Pulitzer-Prize winning historian James McPherson as “military history at its best.”

 

The lecture is sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision/Action Grant with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

Enthusiasts of World War One history who attend the lecture are welcome to visit the Old Fort Niagara historic site and museum afterward. The museum currently features the exhibit “Fort Niagara in the Great War,” which shows how the fort was used as a training facility for two United States Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) camps in 1917 when the ROTC program was just getting started. The exhibit features uniforms, artifacts, letters and photos specific to the training camps. Admission into the historic site and museum is $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, free for children under 6, and free for members of the Old Fort Niagara Association.

Hours of Operation

The Fort is open year round with the exception of New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

  • Jan - June 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • July - Aug - 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sept - Dec - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Please note: Ticket sales end 30 minutes before closing time.

 

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Old Fort Niagara is operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1927. We do not rely on tax dollars. Instead, the Fort is funded through a combination of admission fees, museum shop sales, and charitable contributions.

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