Source: US Army / www. army.mil

Above left: The 7th Infantry Regiment Crest. The shield is white and blue, the old and present Infantry colors. The base alludes to the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 3d Division with which the 7th Infantry served during the first World War.

The rich heritage of the 7th Infantry Regiment spans 200 years and 12 wars with 76 campaign streamers earned and 14 unit decorations received. The Regiment has served in more campaigns than any other Infantry unit in the United States Army. It was initially organized in response to the “quasi-war” with France during the summer of 1798. The first major conflict in which the Regiment was engaged was the Indian War of 1811, where it fought under General William Henry Harrison in Ohio and Indiana. Its first encounter against foreign troops took place in the War of 1812, where the 7th Infantry saw action in Canada, Florida and Louisiana.

It was the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, while being commanded by Andrew Jackson, who later became President of the United States, that the 7th Infantry was dubbed the “COTTONBALERS.” During that battle, the 7th successfully held their position against the British forces from behind a breastwork of cotton bales. The nickname “Cottonbalers” was proudly accepted by the Regiment and a cotton bale was incorporated into the Regimental Coat of Arms and to the Distinctive Unit Insignia.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Cottonbalers went into action, and by 1865, had added 14 campaign streamers to the Regimental colors. In 1898, the Spanish-American War began, and the 7th Infantry was sent to fight in Cuba at El Caney and San Juan Hill. In 1901, the Regiment was shipped to the Philippines to quell the insurrection there, serving in Samar and Luzon.

During World War I, a well-prepared 7th Infantry landed in France as part of the newly formed 3d Infantry Division. It participated in the Aisne Defensive, the struggle at Chateau-Thierry, the Champaigne-Marne Defensive, and proceeded onward in offensive actions at Aisne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne, and St. Mihiel.

With its outstanding record of achievement stretching out over almost half a century, the Cottonbalers plunged into World War II by being among the first to land in North Africa in 1942 with their assault on Morocco. This was the beginning of a series of victories during WWII that added ten more battle streamers to their colors. The 7th Infantry pushed onward from North Africa through Italy and France to Germany, where the Cottonbalers capped their efforts by capturing Berchtesgaden, Adolph Hitler’s mountain fortress. (See 3rd Division WWII Combat Chronicle.)

Five years after the end of WWII, the 7th Infantry was deployed from Fort Devens, Massachusetts to action in Korea where it rejoined the other elements of the 3d Infantry Division. Landing at Wonsan, North Korea on November 17, 1950, the Cottonbalers took up positions between Wonsan and Hamhung while they fought a courageous rear guard action receiving elements of the First Marine Division as it withdrew from the Chosin Reservoir, controlling the escape route to Hamhung and the sea for UN forces mauled by the entry into the war by the Chinese. Following the truce with the North Koreans the Regiment returned to Fort Benning, Georgia.

In 1990 the 2d and 3d Battalions deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the 24th Infantry Division, attacking into Iraq the following February as it lead the 24th into the Euphrates River Valley. Victorious, the 24th moved back into Saudi Arabia on March 9, 1991, and subsequently redeployed to Fort Stewart.

In early 2003 the 2d and 3d Battalions returned to the Middle East as fighting resumed in Iraq, distinguishing themselves once again as elements of the Army’s Premier Regiment. Today, as ever, the 7th Infantry Regiment stands by its motto, “Willing and Able,” to defend freedom at a moment’s notice, anywhere in the world. The 7th Infantry ranks first on the Army’s Order of Merit List in terms of date constituted, awards and decorations received, and campaign streamers earned.