With its lineage extending back to 1808 when the Army organized the 4th Infantry, the 5th Infantry Regiment is one of the Army’s longest serving infantry units. In 1815, several regiments, including the 9th, 13th, 21st, 40th, and 46th Infantry Regiments, were consolidated to form the 5th Infantry. Elements that formed the 5th took part in several notable campaigns, including Tippecanoe in 1811, and Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane in 1814 during the War of 1812.
Following the War of 1812, the 5th was assigned to the American frontier to explore and protect America’s vast territory. The regiment was later sent to Florida to combat the Seminoles. For much of the nineteenth century, the 5th Infantry would be engaged in numerous campaigns against a number of Indian tribes.
The 5th Infantry was in Texas when war broke out with Mexico in 1846. The regiment was immediately assigned to BG Zachary Taylor’s army and took part in the American victories at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterey. The 5th was later reassigned to MG Winfield Scott’s army which was to advance on Mexico City. After participating in the American landing at Vera Cruz, the 5th fought at Churubusco and Molino del Rey. During the final assault on Mexico City, the regiment took part in the storming of the fortress of Chapultepec. Among the junior officers in the assault were James Longstreet and George Pickett, both of whom would later distinguish themselves as Confederate generals in the Civil War.
After the Mexican War, the 5th Infantry remained in the western United States, fighting hostile Indians such as the Comanche and serving as the primary infantry unit on the frontier. The regiment also assisted in quelling the Mormon uprising in the Utah Territory in 1857. During the Civil War, the 5th Infantry remained out west, taking part in only one campaign of the war, New Mexico 1862.
After the Civil War, the 5th Infantry was heavily engaged in fighting Indians and protecting settlers. In 1869, COL Nelson Miles, a veteran of the Civil War and one of the best Indian fighters in the Army, took command of the regiment and led it in campaigns against the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Nez Perce.
The 5th Infantry did not see service in the Spanish-American War, but briefly served in the Philippines during the insurrection. During World War I, the regiment was assigned to the 17th Division. While the regiment did not take part in combat operations, it did perform occupation duty in Germany after the Armistice.
In the years before World War II, the 5th Infantry spent time assigned to the 5th and 9th Divisions. On 10 July 1943, the 5th was assigned to the 71st Light Division, an experimental unit that was soon converted to a regular infantry division in 1944. The 5th arrived in France with the 71st Infantry Division in January 1945. During the war in Europe, the 5th, commanded by COL Sidney G. Wooten, took part in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns and fought through southern Germany, becoming the first American unit to cross the Danube River and the first to enter Austria. After performing occupation duty, the 5th Infantry was inactivated at Salzburg, Austria, on 15 November 1946.
On 1 January 1949, the 5th was reactivated in Korea and briefly served there until all U.S. combat forces were withdrawn later that year. When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, the 5th, under the command of COL Goodwin L. Ordway, was rushed to the Korean peninsula from Hawaii to help stem the Communist advance. Arriving at Pusan on 31 July, the 5th, which formed the core of a regimental combat team (RCT) that included the 555th Field Artillery Battalion, 72d Engineer Company, and a regimental tank company, was immediately pressed into service in support of the 25th Infantry Division. During fighting near Chinju from 9 to 13 August, the regiment’s 3d Battalion conducted a successful attack on enemy positions, seizing its objectives and inflicting heavy casualties. The actions at Chinju earned the 3d Battalion a Presidential Unit Citation. On 26 August, the 5th RCT was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division, replacing the division’s badly mauled 34th Infantry Regiment and 63d Field Artillery Battalion. The 5th RCT fought as part of the 24th Division until January 1952, when the 24th was replaced by the 40th Infantry Division. For the remainder of the war, the 5th RCT operated as an independent unit, first under IX Corps and later X Corps control. In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation for Chinju, the 5th earned three Korean Presidential Unit Citations. Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, also earned a Presidential Unit Citation for heroic actions at Songnae-dong. Two soldiers from the 5th earned the Medal of Honor. In all, the regiment lost 867 killed, 3,188 wounded, and 167 taken prisoner or missing in Korea.
During the Vietnam War, the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized), served with the 2d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. During its time in Vietnam, from 19 January 1966 to 30 April 1971, the 1/5 Infantry earned twelve campaign streamers, a Presidential Unit Citation, a Valorous Unit Citation, and several decorations from the Republic of Vietnam.
Today the 5th Infantry continues its proud legacy in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The regiment’s 1st Battalion is assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light), a Stryker Brigade Combat Team that is part of Task Force Olympia in northern Iraq. The 2d Battalion, 5th Infantry, is currently assigned to the 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light), a component of Combined Joint Task Force 76 in Afghanistan.